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Check out State Street’s new look this summer in Madison

State Street’s Pedestrian Mall Experiment kicks off on Wednesday, May 8.

A woman and child working together to paint a large street mural

Take a stroll down State Street to see the new murals. | Photo via City of Madison

The 400 to 600 blocks of State Street have a new look. In preparation for this summer’s pedestrian mall experiment, over 600 Madisonians helped city staff spruce up a chunk of State Street with vibrant murals this past weekend.

The experiment

Stretching from Gorham Street to Hawthorne Court, the pedestrian mall experiment launches on Wednesday, May 8. This six-month trial will explore the potential of State Street as a car-free public space. “We hope it will encourage others to come downtown and experience the amazing things our Downtown has to offer,” said Urban Design Planner Rebecca Cnare.

608 pedestrian mall

The experimental pedestrian mall will span the 400-600 blocks of State Street. | Rendering via City of Madison

The City initially presented the concept to the public in December 2023. Over 300 Madisonians unanimously voted in favor of the experiment.

Some excited thoughts from the public poll included:

  • “As European cities have shown us, spaces where people are free to casually gather and socialize are vital to people’s mental health.”
  • “Less cars! More people-centered structure.”
  • "[This] will be a gateway to making the city more pedestrian-friendly...”
  • “Opportunity to make it more community based and inclusive for everyone.”

The murals

From afar, this area of State Street now looks filled with polka dots. Take a closer look to see the details of the many circular murals.

A group of people working together on a street mural

Hundreds of Madisonians volunteered to help paint State Street. | Photo via City of Madison

Some larger designs include flamingos (Madison’s official bird) and a hopscotch court, while some smaller designs include Madison-specific items like a sailboat, ice cream, Madison’s flag, and the Winter Carnival’s Lady Liberty.

The following local artists contributed designs for the stencils used during the community mural day:

Now that the street murals are finished, the city will begin adding 18 new benches, 23 planters, and a few flamingo sculptures to the area over the next few weeks.