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Broadway Plaza Turns 60

Walnut Creek’s outdoor shopping center celebrates a big milestone with festivities this weekend, including Nordstrom's grand reopening.

It’s a big year for Broadway Plaza: Walnut Creek’s bustling shopping center marks its 60th anniversary. And, like all things Broadway Plaza, it’s celebrating in style, with special events taking place this month through the fall.

When J.C. Penney wanted to open up a store in Walnut Creek, the idea quickly grew into a plan for an entire shopping center. At the time of its opening on October 11, 1951, “Broadway Walnut Creek” was one of the first open-air malls in the country. One of the Marx brothers even provided entertainment for the opening.

Built on 30 acres (construction meant covering over the Walnut and San Ramon creeks), the center was originally anchored by several main attractions. J.C. Penney, Sears, Lucky Supermarket, Woolworths, and Joseph Magnin (a San Francisco based clothing store) helped draw shoppers to the 38-store plaza.

The center would transform Walnut Creek from a sleepy town to a bustling shopping destination, bringing unprecedented revenue into the city and contributing to a spike in population—2,400 to 40,000 in the twenty years after the opening. Since then, Broadway Plaza has grown to include 77 retailers and restaurants, and has evolved from a humble shopping center into the chic shopping experience it is today.

Among the special events taking place this weekend are:

The Little Black Dress Party: June 24, 7–9 p.m., at the Promenade Fountain across from Nordstrom. Slip on your favorite LBD and come to enjoy cake and light refreshments, dance to live entertainment from the group East Bay Mudd, and snag giveaways such as the Little Black Book of Savings, which is choc-full of offers and specials from Broadway Plaza retailers. Also, stick around for the chance to win one of several fantastic raffle prizes: an evening for four at Teatro ZinZanni, a $500 subscription for two to Center Repertory Company performances, and the fantasy of any true shopoholic: a $500 gift certificate to Broadway Plaza with VIP parking on Black Friday.

Family Day: June 25, 10 a.m.–3 p.m., at the Promenade Fountain across from Nordstrom. Arts and crafts, face painting, balloon artists, live entertainment, and other kid-friendly activities will make for an afternoon jam-packed with fun.

Nordstrom's Grand Reopening: June 25, 10 a.m.–9 p.m., at Nordstrom. The department store celebrates its brand-new look, with raffles and gifts-with-purchase in each department, complimentary beverages at the e-Bar and a special treat from the Café, complimentary monogramming and basic alterations, and facial makeovers in the cosmetics department. Plus, shoppers spending more than $200 during the weekend will score a free Nordstrom/Broadway Plaza logo water bottle, while supplies last.

Additional reporting by Cady Lang.