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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Northland Center- (Southfield, Michigan)

          Let me take you back to the year 1951, and delineate the tale of an industrial American city built by traditional means, brawn and dreams. A young man is born outside the city of Detroit, Michigan by French Canadian parents. By the age of 3, in 1954, a few miles from home, the Northland Center opens to the public in neighboring Southfield, Michigan. One of few malls in America to bring the dreams of partnered J.L. Hudson Corporation and Victor Gruen to Eastern Michigan. Now only fuzzy memories described to me outside the fenced-in lot of the former Macy's on a summer weekend in July, are the only pneuma that the mall was once prospering. As I learned that this young man shopped at Hudson's, Kresge, F.W. Woolworth's, and Kroger with his Mother and Father after school, on the weekends, and after church on Sunday's, that just may have had inspired him to dedicate himself to a life's career in retail management. Although my Father is now 64, he is alive and well, but the Northland Center, at 61 years old, has passed over to the realm of other shuttered malls, although physically impossible to shop at now, those memories of the past will never be forgotten by my Father.

          Northland Center mall is now dead, anchored by only Target and Macy's, which both closed in 2015 and a few inline tenants before ultimately closing in April 2015.

          These pictures might be meek, as the chain link fence blocked off most the property, I got the best shots I could from the car window, as too many people wondering around the lot waiting for public transportation, or just homeless, created to great a danger for me to walk around as I normally would. Too bad I never got to see the inside of the mall, but a new friend of mine, who run's the Ace's Adventures YouTube channel will soon enough get good footage of the inside for me, and many of his fan's.

          Northland Center began construction in 1952 after retail space designer Victor Gruen convinced J.L. Hudson, an upscale Detroit department store, to draw away the concentration of there downtown store on Woodward Avenue, and take advantage of suburban growth by building four mall anchor stores- Northland Center, Southland Center, Eastland Center, and Westland Center. Northland was the first to be built, which was completed in March 1954 on approximately 160 acres of land becoming the largest mall in the world! The mall was located along Northwest Highway, Greenfield Road, and 8 Mile. The centers original anchor's included a four level J.L. Hudson's and a small number of inline tenants.

"The mall was known to be the beginning of Post-War shopping in America!"
          Other stores featured in the mall according to several sources included Hughes & Hatcher, Barna-Bee Child store, Baker's Shoes, a Big Boy restaurant, Kroger, and S.S. Kresge. Other than shopping, the center also featured auditoriums, a bank, post office, public art, fountains, lavish landscaping, and so much more.

Former Firestone
          The mall was fully enclosed in 1974, as JCPenney was added, and Federated-owned Mainstreet opened in 1985 and bought and changed to Kohl's in 1989. T.J.Maxx, Montgomery Ward, and a food court were all added in 1991.

          To my surprise, Kohl's closed in 1994, and a Target opened on the opposite side of the mall in 1996. Montgomery Ward closed due to sales and pending bankruptcy in 1998, and JCPenney and T.J.Maxx closed in 2000 and 2004. In 2001, Hudson's converted to Marshall Field's as a result of Dayton-Hudson begin bought by Target. All the anchor store seemed to be gone by 2006 when only Target and Macy's, changing from Marshall Field's, remained open, aside from any stores inside the mall.

Former JCPenney

          In November 2014, Target announced it would close its Southfield location in February 2015, and Macy's also announced it would close its location here by March 2015, closing the exact day the mall opened 61 years to the date.

Former Target

Former J.L. Hudson's/ Marshall Field's/ Macy's

Where are all those piles of gravel from? nothing is demolished?

Last "sign" of Hudson's once running Detroit's textile needs.

Love the sign, trust me, it is suppose to be leaning.

Wonder what the water tower will say in the future?

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