In the 1980s, the winds of retail change howled through downtowns everywhere. Cities suffered a jolt to their economic and cultural centers with the departure of stores, restaurants, and movie theaters to that new cultural phenom--The Mall.
Kresge's, Woolworth's, Sears, Spiess Department Store, J.C. Penney's, and the Healy building were all located in the triangle running from Fountain Square and formed by S. Spring Street, DuPage Street, and S. Grove Avenue. Salvation, bought in bricks, turned the triangle into a pedestrian mall. Despite that salvation, discarded papers blew about its bricked-over, lifeless streets while sad-eyed buildings sat empty.
The City of Elgin did a major renovation of downtown in the mid-2000s and cars again ply S. Grove Avenue. Sears is now ECC's downtown campus; Penney's is a restaurant/bar; and Spiess was replaced by a large condominium complex., and Woolworth’s “dime store” ironically houses the Chamber of Commerce. DuPage Court remains bricked and serves partly as outdoor space for Al's Cafe. Pedestrians walk their dogs, frequent the restaurants and bars, visit others living in downtown; all in the shadow of that noble representative of the city's strength--the Tower Building.