On August 12, 2017 everything in Charlottesville changed. We went from being a lovely, historic college town that was frequently a “number one place to live” selection in national magazines to the epicenter America’s racial unrest. The DTM, or Charlottesville Downtown Mall, a 9-block stretch of Main Street that was converted into a pedestrian mall in the 1970s, took the brunt of what’s come to be known as “A12.” The DTM was already a dynamic, interesting place, which, against the odds, has grown in popularity over the last few decades.
Indeed, the late Bill Lucy, a UVA architecture professor of urban and environmental planning, once called the DTM a “sacred place,” even more sacred than the famed “Lawn” at UVA. “A sacred place is where people commune, share ideas, eat together,” said Lucy. “ There’s a helluva lot more intellectual exchange on the Downtown Mall than at UVA, and that’s because UVA has destroyed it– not by destroying buildings, but by changing their uses.”
After A12, however, which saw protesters mowed down and killed on one of the DTM’s vehicle crossings, things have changed and the future of the DTM’s cultural life remains uncertain. Moving forward, The DTM is an attempt to chronicle the history, large and small, of this dynamic and sacred place.
David McNair, founding editor