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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

So Much is Defined by This Four Letter Word

Southdale Center- Edina, Minnesota (1956)
          Upon passing through the crowded halls of another mall, lost in the images of modern shopping trends, I can't help but think there has to be more to the establishment than just one building packed with smaller stores. So much more is defined by the four letter word, "mall", no, its not an acronym, but that's just it, what does it stand for? I resort to referencing episode 16 of Tom Explores Los Angeles, where he takes a look inside the old Hawthorne Plaza outside LA county. As Tom walks the apocalyptic levels once crowded with eager shoppers, he begins to enlighten us with some history on the creation of the modern shopping mall, Southdale in Edina, Minnesota, opening in 1956 and designed by Victor Gruen, an Austrian immigrant that came to America in hopes of further educating himself and starting a career. He got into retail design to further accentuate his socialist idea's into retail architecture, designing a mixed communal space filled with beauty of fountains and foliage, and commerce, where people can come together to socialize and shop.

          As it started from there, like anything created, it will be replicated and redone by other people, that is the boom of retail shopping, as stores left downtown and came to the suburbs when World War II was ceased, families were started and the suburban lifestyle was born, better known as "baby boomers", people left the cities for new suburban developments, thus shopping had to follow where the people went. With the signing of the Federal Aid Highway Act in 1956, this made vacations and traveling way more convenient for families. Going from home to there desired vacation spot, stopping for gas and lodging with a mall located near by, made for one stop pleasure, the combination of a gas station, motel, diner, and mall at an exit every few 100 miles was the trend of development in the 60's and beyond, but where it ended up is the most shocking side, the death of the mall.

          These photos below best resemble enclosed shopping malls of the 70's, the high point of the mall, no matter what location in America, each mall, located in a particular market, had at least two national retail anchors, such as JCPenney or Sears, a regional anchor like Marshall Fields, Kaufmann's or Hudson's, and the local anchor like Hornes around Ohio and Wieboldt's in Chicago. No matter what your mall had, it followed this general design. The mall interior, typically pastel or neutral colors, tile and brick flooring, and a lot of wood veneer. Air conditioning is what brought people in during the summer, and heat in the winter.

Holyoke Mall at Ingleside- Holyoke, Massachusetts (1982)

          The heart of the mall, known as the "center court" is the epicenter of the shopping mall, where the fountain was located, all the plants, any attraction, food court near by with seating, and divided the halls that lead to the anchor stores. The architecture was the greatest design attribute that really takes to me as a mallrat, each mall is so different from one another, even when a major property form like Taubman Centers outside Detroit. They have designed and constructed many malls around the Midwest, a common design attribute of there malls is such attention to design with the ceiling and the stairways. Take a look at Woodfield Mall outside Chicago, or Beverly Center outside Los Angeles, the stairways and halls look alike, although the malls themselves are very different based on when they were built, or for what market.


          Traditional anchor stores brought families together, they did, no matter how cheesy that may sound, its were you bought your first suit, or dress, pair of heels for prom, that new bike, or washing machine, even got your hair done at there in house salon, and afterwards, had something to eat at there lunch counter. These stores served at a communal, even ceremonial space for people to come together, to sell, and to spend, you shopped for something you needed, from someone that was looking to sell it. First dates and reunions of friends found open seats at the food court, and the story you tell your kids, when I was a kid, I shopped, I shopped at Wards with my dad, or my first job was a Prange's. Today, there is JCPenney and Sears, no matter how analysis's say they will close, there the last traditional department stores left. Other like Dillard's, Von Maur, and Boscov's serve there select regions.

Northglenn Mall (1971)

Northglenn Mall (1971)
          As scads of malls began to die in the late 80's and all throughout the 90's, it inspired a group of guys to create the original website devoted to the lost of art of malls, Here is a clip featuring some of my friends Peter Blackbird and Brian Florence, as they tell there story on why malls are important  to them, and why this is such an issue in our economic society.

          Next time you take your friends or family to the local mall, stop, and sit, and gaze at what is surrounding you, and think, its more than just a four letter word, from where it started, to for most people, where it ended. There are still several hundred excelling malls in North America, and for the ones that did not make it this long, have been demolished to and redeveloped to reintroduce new retail trends to the area that mall once housed.

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Photos in the post are provided by these links below:


Here is my review of the YouTube channel: Tom Explores Los Angeles

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Mars Markets Closing All Stores in July

          Exclusive to the Baltimore area, the grocery chain Mars is closing all 8 of its stores at the end of this July. Announced yesterday that Mars will sell 5 stores to competitor Weis, and today announced the closures of the rest of there chain.

Here are the locations that Weis will convert:
  • 1080 Maiden Choice Lane, Baltimore
  • 9613 Harford Road, Baltimore
  • 165 Orville Road, Baltimore
  • 7200 Holabird Ave., Baltimore
  • 7848 Wise Ave., Baltimore

Here are the other 8 stores that will close July 31st:

  • 15 Padonia Road, Lutherville-Timonium
    • 1401 Pulaski Highway, Edgewood
    • 9150 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City
    • 1811 York Road, Timonium
    • 1700 E. Northern Pkwy., Baltimore
    • 9544 Philadelphia Road, Baltimore
    • 11953 Reisterstown Road, Reisterstown
    • 8667 Bel Air Road, Baltimore

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    Tuesday, May 17, 2016

    Rolling Acres Mall Virtual Reality

              Years of sitting empty and abandoned has continued to the point that Google Streetview cars decided to finally drive around the desolate parking lot of Rolling Acres mall in Akron, Ohio. Backed by popularity in archived search results, the Streetview is recorded from December 2015, the latest look at the deterioration of the former mall. All I see it as is overgrown and vibrant, not archaic like the Coliseum, just a point paused in time.

             Rolling Acres Mall virtual reality should be an app as you take a realistic, detailed, 3D, visual tour of the mall property. All the former anchor stores and surrounding shops come to life on your portable device.

    Lets take a look...

    The former Target.

    Former O'Neil/ May Co./ Kaufmann's/ Macy's. known as the store of broken windows.

    Rolling Acres Cinema.

    Former Target used as a storage center.

    Former Sears, the last anchor to leave.

    Front of the mall, and famous entrance logo.

    Former JCPenney and Macy's

    Former JCPenney/ discount store.

    JCPenney Auto Center/ Firestone.

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    Friday, May 13, 2016

    Wickes, Gordmans, & Art Van Oh My!

    Wickes Furniture liquidating in fall 2008.

    Timeline from around 2008-2016 with the liquidation of Wickes Furniture, Gordmans construction and opening, Gordmans closing, and Art Van Furniture opening in Algonquin, Illinois.

    Demolition of portion of old Wickes Furniture.

    Gordmans opens August 2011.

    Gordmans closing July 2015.


    Opens as Art Van Furniture in March 2016.

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    Redevelopment: Four Flagg Shopping Center in Niles, Illinois

             This is the Four Flagg shopping center located at the intersection of Milwaukee Avenue and Golf Road in Niles, Illinois across the street from Golf Mill Mall. I have little history of this shopping center other than the pictures I have, much like Winston Plaza in Melrose Park or Cermak Plaza in Berwyn. I am sure its been here for years and started with the typical stores like National or Kroger, and Service Merchandise and Highland. Any input would be appreciated.

              These pictures I took in 2012 do not show much change today other than the Jewel-Osco that closed in 2013 and three year later, a Fresh Farms grocery store opened. The Archiver's craft store closed with the chain two years ago, and maybe a few small stores moved around.

    The Jewel-Osco closed shortly after this picture

    Archiver's in the distance.

    A few years ago, note the old Petsmart sign.

    Long gone Service Merchandise store, unsure of what took its place in the plaza, possibly the Petsmart and Archiver's?

    Now Party City.
    I almost thought the Fresh Farms market would never open, it took forever.

    Opened March 2016:

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    Monday, May 9, 2016

    Glimpse of Crestwood Court- Crestwood, Missouri

              A pitch black nigh sky and county police guarding the abandoned parking lot allowed to me get only one shot, one glimpse of the old Crestwood Court mall in Crestwood, Missouri.

              Although there are hundreds of pictures of the mall online , and dozens of videos on Youtube, why does it matter that I take my own pictures of the center? But only knowing what the old mall looked like just from what I seen through pictures, I can't begin to describe just how big, and amazing this center looked, even at night, what looks like a Lego brick on Google Maps, looked like a warehouse that goes for miles sitting in an ocean of parking lot. And seeing it in person, I will never forget, and by now, as I am writing this, if it remains true, the Crestwood Court mall is being demolished for future development.

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    Mid Rivers Mall- St. Peters, Missouri

              Mid Rivers Mall is located in St. Peters, Missouri along Interstate 70 and is one of the more distant malls from downtown St. Louis. The mall is currently anchored by Sears, Macy's, JCPenney, Dillard's, Dick's Sporting Goods, and a V- Stock book store.

              Although I could not find a clear development date for the mall, Famous-Barr opened in 1981 on the site of what would become Mid Rivers Mall. The mall did open in 1987 with Famous-Barr and Dillard's, along with the Cinema in that opened in 1988.

              An expansion in 1990 led to Sears opening an anchor and another expansion in 1996 came with JCPenney opening as the fourth anchor.

    Here are pictures of the mall from April 2016:

    Borders closed in 2011, and V-Stock opened in its former space.

    Famous-Barr was converted to Macy's in 2006.

    How is BonWorth opened?

    I hate blurry pictures but it leaves something to the imagination.

    Dick's Sporting Goods opened in 2008.

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