A few days ago I drove through Morristown on my way back home. I remembered hearing about downtown’s overhead sidewalks and thought I’d stop by to see them for myself. ‘Sidewalks in the air?’ you might ask. Absolutely! And they’re the only ones you’ll find in the world still standing. They have quite the story to tell, too!
The Chester Rows, an interconnected network of second-level balconies that began about 700 years ago in Chester, England, fascinated local architect Hubert Bebb. Bebb brought the idea to Morristown as part of the massive 1960s urban renewal project. The goal was to create two “Main Streets” in one and double the downtown shopping district. They called it SkyMart. This downtown shopping area is the only one of its kind, a unique attraction that made newspaper headlines around the world. From London to New York to Miami, SkyMart put Morristown on the map.
There was a big celebration for its Grand Opening in 1967 with music from a few people you might recognize. Tex Ritter, Porter Wagoner, and Dolly Parton were all part of the concerts and parades that marched down Main Street!
But from a local perspective (or at least the perspective of two girls I met ‘hanging out’ in the upper-downtown), it’s not just about history. They told me they just love to come and hang out downtown. They grew up playing on these sidewalks, watching the parades, and for today…just blowing bubbles.
Whether it’s the unique history or just nice places to watch the sun set you’re looking for, the overhead sidewalks of Morristown are a great place for both.