Cincinnati's Swifton Center  

A target-type trademark was used to promote the original SWIFTON CENTER, the shopping center that has everything. A similar graphic had been created for Greater New York City's CROSS COUNTY CENTER, which opened for business 2 years before Cincy's SWIFTON.

A circa-1951 rendering of (what would become) the Queen City's first shopping mall.     
Drawing from the Jonathan Woodner Company Proposal, 1951 / Varady's Research Archive

A circa-1951 site plan of the shopping center and neighboring Swifton Village Apartments. The residential complex (but not the shopping center) was once owned by Donald Trump.
Drawing from the Jonathan Woodner Company Proposal, 1951 / Varady's Research Archive

Another circa-1951 plan; this for the Mall (or Upper) Level of the prospective retail center. As one can see, two Professional Office Buildings were to be part of the shopping center. This layout would be substantially altered for the project that was eventually built.
Drawing from the Jonathan Woodner Company Proposal, 1951 / Varady's Research Archive

Here we see the first office tower. This 6-story building would have been part of the actual mall structure.
Drawing from the Jonathan Woodner Company Proposal, 1951 / Varady's Research Archive

A second (11-story) office building was to be situated on a pad south of the mall and across Langdon Farm Road. It would have been connected with the mall via an elevated walkway.
Drawing from the Jonathan Woodner Company Proposal, 1951 / Varady's Research Archive

Here we see a storefront in the shopping-center-to-be.
Drawing from the Jonathan Woodner Company Proposal, 1951 / Varady's Research Archive

A shiny new Rollman's department store is nearly ready to open for business in this late 1956 photo. It would anchor the south end of the mall.
Photo from the Cincinnati Enquirer

A layout of SWIFTON CENTER, as it was actually built. The open-air complex, hailed as a shopper's dream world, had two retail floors; the Mall Level and Langdon Level. Concourses on the Mall Level were named for seven American Presidents, with the main mallway known as Washington Plaza. There were also Lincoln Plaza, Monroe Plaza and Taft Plaza. The retail hub was surrounded by a parking area with space for 3,500 autos.

A late '50s view of the Washington Plaza mallway at SWIFTON CENTER. It was appointed with landscaping, fountains and seating areas. The tall pylon off in the distance is part of the Rollman's anchor store.
Photo from "Explore Cincinnati and More!" 

The SWIFTON Rollman's was short-lived. It closed in April 1960 and re-opened, as a Mabley & Carew (or "Mabley's"), in November of the same year. Grand opening festivities included appearances by Glen "Skipper" Ryle, of WKRC, and Marian Spelman, popular WLWT vocalist.
Drawing from

By the mid-1970s, SWIFTON CENTER had been bested by a plethora of newer, larger -and fully-enclosed- shopping malls in its trade area. The dilapidated complex was given a 12 million dollar revitalization. It re-opened, as SWIFTON COMMONS, in September 1985.
Photo from The Cincinnati Enquirer 

The repositioning of the moribund mall as SWIFTON COMMONS was a spectacular failure. The mall lumbered through the 1990s, partially vacant and on life support. In 2001, a religious congregation acquired the property. Their new sanctuary, the Allen Temple AME Church, was built in the mall's northeast parking area and was dedicated in May 2004.
Photo from

The SWIFTON mall was renamed JORDAN CROSSING CENTER. In this circa-2009 layout, the 5-year-old AME Church is shown in light gray. The anchor store on the south end, abandoned by Elder-Beerman in January 1996, was substantially renovated by the Hamilton County Community Action Agency in 2004-2005.

One of the promotions used to increase foot traffic was a a series of summer concerts, Jazz At Jordan Crossing, which were held in the mall's central courtyard. These were discontinued just before the historic shopping facility was demolished, in August 2013.
Photo from

A redevelopment project could create a mixed-use facility at the SWIFTON CENTER site. As proposed, MIDPONTE CROSSING would include office and retail components. It is also possible that residential units, and a hotel, may be built.
Graphic from
Reading Road / US 42 and 25 and Seymour Avenue
Cincinnati, Ohio

Planning for Cincinnati's first shopping mall was underway by 1950, with a prospectus being completed in April, 1951. In this proposal, a regional shopping center was to be built on a 34 acre site, located 6.7 miles northeast of Fountain Square, in the Bond Hill district of the city. At the time, the site was at the geographic center of Greater Cincinnati.

A 2-level, open-air shopping center was designed by Knoxville, Tennessee's David Liebman Associates and would be built by the General Development Corporation. A groundbreaking was held June 10, 1955.

SWIFTON CENTER opened for business on October 24, 1956, with 486,000 leasable square feet and fifty-four stores and services. A 3-level (150,000 square foot), Cincinnati-based Rollman & Sons anchored the south end of the facility.

Charter stores and services included Walgreen Drug, Gentry Shop For Men, Franklin Simon ladies' wear, Lillian's Dress Shop, Associated Cotton Shops, National Shirt Shops, Baker's Qualicraft Shoes, Big Tree Market, Loft's Candies, Klosterman's Bake Shop, Pennington's Cafeteria, Rogers Toy Shop, Squire's men's wear, a Slenderella Figure Salon and S.S. Kresge 5 & 10.

There were also a (19,300 square foot) Kroger supermarket, (19,300 square foot), Dayton-based Liberal supermarket and 2-level (47,700 square foot) G.C. Murphy 5 & 10. The Mall Level included the Pee Wee Valley kiddie amusement area, which had a mini-merry-go-round, mini ferris wheel, boat ride and teeter-copter.

On the Langdon (or basement) Level of the mall were a Pasquale's Pizza Carry-Out, State (liquor) Store, Social Security Administration office, Electrolux office, practices for several dentists and physicians and a fallout shelter, which could accommodate 10,000 people.

Rollman's SWIFTON CENTER store was shuttered after only 3 and a half years in business. Cincinnati-based Mabley & Carew renovated the building and opened on November 21, 1960. It was the chain's second branch location. This store was rebranded by Dayton-based Elder-Beerman on August 10, 1978.

By the late 1970s, SWIFTON CENTER had been outpositioned by newer and larger shopping centers in its vicinity. These included TRI-COUNTY CENTER (1960) {6.9 miles north, in Springdale}, KENWOOD MALL (1966) {4.5 miles northeast, in Hamilton County} and WESTERN WOODS MALL (1966) {9 miles west, in Hamilton County}.

At one point, there were only five tenants in business at SWIFTON CENTER, which had space for nearly seventy. The complex sat practically vacant for several years. Then, a 12 million dollar renovation was undertaken by the Youngstown-based Edward J. DeBartolo Corporation and Jerome Glazer of New Orleans. A newly-remodeled -and renamed- SWIFTON COMMONS was dedicated on September 4, 1985.

One of the features of the revitalized open-air complex was its enclosed Treats Food Court. New stores included Lane Bryant, Kinney Shoes, Finish Line, SupeRx Drugs, Hancock Fabrics, National Record Mart, Regis Hairstylists, Waldenbooks, Gold Star Chili and Zales Jewelers.

This effort to reinvigorate the shopping venue was an abysmal failure. By the mid-1990s, it was in foreclosure. Elder-Beerman shuttered its location (by now operating as an Outlet Store) in January 1996. The complex was sold in 1996, again in 1997 and -for a third time- in 2001.

The final purchase was made by the Allen Temple African Methodist Episcopal Church, who attempted to remarket the former SWIFTON COMMONS as an "informational and community service mall of the 21st century".

The complex, which was renamed JORDAN CROSSING CENTER, included a branch of Wilberforce University and offices for the Cincinnati-Hamilton County Community Action Agency. These occupied the extensively-renovated shell of the old Rollman's / Elder-Beerman anchor store.

A freestanding sanctuary, the Allen Temple AME Church, was built on a 4.5 acre section of the mall's northwest parking area. The new house of worship was dedicated in May 2004. Further renovations to the circa-1956 open-air mall were proposed but never carried out.

In its final years, JORDAN CROSSING CENTER housed retail tenants such as Derrick Allen's Beauty Salon, Deveroes Clothing, Family Printing & Design Center, Image Makers Barber Shop and Ike's Bar-B-Que. There were also offices for three non-profit organizations and five church sanctuaries.

By 2010, there was public concern about the partially vacant -and rapidly deteriorating- shopping mall. The plan was to demolish it and repurpose the property. 23 acres of the site were acquired by The Port of Cincinnati in February 2013. The MKSK firm was enlisted to design a mixed-use facility that would cost upwards of 75 million dollars.

A vacant Burger King, on the north end of the property, was knocked down in April 2013. Demolition of the mall proper began in August of the same year. The Allen Temple AME Church and Hamilton County Community Action Agency structures were left standing.

If all goes as planned, the historic shopping center will be replaced by a development known as MIDPOINTE CROSSING. It will include 141,000 square feet of office space and 100,000 square feet of retail. It is also possible that a 100-room hotel and several residential units will be built.


Varady's Research Archive, Bond Hill / Album: Swifton Commons / Jonathan Woodner Company Proposal (1951) Branch Store.doc
The Cincinnati Post / "Swifton Mall Orphaned Giant Searching For Market, Future" / Cliff Peale, staff reporter
The Cincinnati Enquirer / "Allen Temple To Build Impressive New Church At Swifton Mall, Evolves As Community Focus" / Allen Howard, staff reporter / "Swifton Commons - 1994 Renovation, Cincinnati, Ohio" / PFB Architects, Incorporated


The photos from The Cincinnati Enquirer illustrate a key moment in the mall's history that is described in the article. The images are of lower resolution than the originals (copies made would be of inferior quality). The images are not replaceable with free-use or public-domain images. The use of the images does not limit the copyright owners' rights to distribute them in any way. The images are being used for non-profit, informational purposes only and their use is not believed to detract from the original images in any way.
Cincinnati's Tri-County Center

Greater Cincinnati's Space-Age shopopolis. In 1960, it was the only development in the surrounding area. An initial segment of the Interstate 275 highway may be seen in the background.
Photo From (Plastichrome by Colour Picture Publishers, Boston Massachusetts)

Cincinnati's second shopping mall opened 4 years after its first (SWIFTON CENTER). TRI-COUNTY CENTER was named for its proximity to three southwestern Ohio counties; Hamilton, Butler and Warren. The original open-air mall encompassed 500,000 leasable square feet and housed fifty-two stores and services. Its parking area could accommodate 4,000 autos.

Two Queen City-based retail chains anchored the circa-'60 center. On its north end was Shillito's, which was the chain's first branch. The store was dedicated in September 1960 and featured Charlie's Restaurant.
Drawing from

On the south end of TRI-COUNTY CENTER was the H & S Pogue depicted here. The store, which was the second branch in the Pogue's chain, also began business in September 1960. It featured the Camargo Restaurant.
Drawing from

In 1967-'68, the existing mall was enclosed and expanded with a new East Wing (in dark gray). Now officially known as TRI-COUNTY MALL, the complex was Greater Cincinnati's third enclosed shopping center.

The new East Wing at TRI-COUNTY was anchored by Sears, which opened for business in May 1967. In this vintage snapshot, said store is decked out for its first Yuletide season.
Photo from

The complex was given a major overhaul between 1989 and 1992. Shopping concourses were double-decked, two parking garages built and a new McAlpin's added. TRI-COUNTY MALL now encompassed 1,281,700 leasable square feet and had a directory of over one hundred & sixty stores and services. Its expanded parking facilities now accommodated 6,300 autos.

Above and below are views of the TRI-COUNTY Center Court Atrium and Fountain.
Photo from "FTN 65"

These features were installed during the 1989-1992 renovation and expansion.
Photo from "FTN 65"

By 2008, three of the mall's four anchors have encountered changes. McAlpin's morphed into Dillard's in the late 1990s. The shuttering of J.C. Penney (in the old Pogue's place) created a vacancy in 2005 that was filled by a rebuild of the store structure. It now houses Ethan Allen, Krazy City and seven inline store and restaurant spaces. On the north end of the mall, Lazarus is now operating as a Macy's.

Dillard's acquired Mercantile Stores, based in nearby Fairfield, Ohio, in 1998. In 1999, the Arkansas-based chain rebranded the TRI-COUNTY McAlpin's. Demoted to a Clearance Center in 2013, the store would be permanently shuttered in 2015.
Photo from (Developers Diversified Realty)

The mall's Krazy City indoor theme park opened in December 2007...but closed in late 2009.
Photo from Kings Island Central Forums / "CoasterRZ"

Competition from KENWOOD TOWNE CENTRE, and other lifestyle and power centers, had sent TRI-COUNTY MAll into a downward spiral by the twenty-tens. A Singapore-based company bought the complex in 2013 and envisaged a massive renovation and repositioning. The 27 million dollar project will create an enclosed and open-air "power mall". One of its refurbished entryways is depicted above.
Drawing from 

We created a provisional site plan that depicts how a revitalized TRI-COUNTY MALL could be configured in the year 2021. Structures shown in dark gray were completed in 2015 and 2016. Areas in light gray show prospective additions to the mall. It is possible that an abandoned Dillard's will be razed and replaced by a dine-in cinema. The shuttering of Sears, in August 2018, presents another vacant anchor store to repurpose.
Princeton Pike and Kemper Road
Springdale, Ohio

Greater Cincinnati's second shopping mall was developed by a joint venture of Federated Stores and Baltimore's Joseph Meyerhoff. TRI-COUNTY CENTER, designed by Kenneth Cameron Mitchell and Cyrus L. Baxter, was built on 72 acres, located 13 miles north of downtown Cincinnati's Fountain Square.

TRI-COUNTY CENTER had been proposed in 1955 by Jeffrey Lazarus, Chairman of the Board at Cincinnati-based Shillito's ["shil-uh-towz"]. Ground was broken for the 25 million dollar project in July 1959.

Open-air in format, the ultra-modern TRI-COUNTY CENTER encompassed 500,000 leasable square feet, with a tenant list of fifty-one stores and services. A 3-level (170,000 square foot) Shillito's stood on the north end of the complex, with a 2-level (110,000 square foot), Cincinnati-based H & S Pogue on the south.

A grand opening celebration was held September 26, 1960. In attendance were Jeffrey Lazarus, Fred Lazarus III (President of Shillito's), James W. Petty (President of H & S Pogue), Joseph Meyerhoff and Gustave Neuss (Mayor of Springdale). Marian Spelman, popular WLWT vocalist, sang the "Star Spangled Banner". Other music was provided by the Princeton High School Band.

Charter TRI-COUNTY stores included Chandler's Shoes, Brendamour's Sporting Goods, Friedman's, Three Sisters ladies' wear, Carlson's Hardware, Fanny Farmer Candies, Federal Bake Shop, Gray Drug, Merle Norman Cosmetic Studio, Northtown Book Shop, Tri-County Toy Corner, an S.S. Kresge 5 & 10 and (28,000 square foot) Kroger supermarket.

The center was given its first renovation in the mid-1960s. The concourse between Shillito's and Pogue's was enclosed with a structure supported by a system of red, upside down V's. A fully-enclosed East Wing was also added; that was anchored by a 2-level (285,000 square foot) Sears.

This store opened for business on May 4, 1967, with the mall enclosure being completed in 1968. As a facet of the remodeling, the official name of the shopping facility was changed to TRI-COUNTY MALL.

Major retail centers in the TRI-COUNTY trade area included KENWOOD PLAZA (1956) and KENWOOD MALL (1966) {7.3 miles southeast, in Hamilton County}, as well as NORTHGATE MALL (1972) {7.6 miles southwest, also in Hamilton County}. 

Shillito's at TRI-COUNTY was expanded in two stages. The first entailed the addition of 14,000 square feet to the store's Mall Level. This renovation was completed in November 1972. An additional sales floor was dedicated in June 1973.

The store now encompassed 4-levels and 235,000 square feet. It was rebranded as a Shillito Rikes in June 1982, became a Lazarus in March 1986, and morphed into a Lazarus-Macy's on August 1, 2003. A Macy's nameplate was installed on March 6, 2005.

A second major renovation was carried out between June 1989 and August 1992, This was done as a reaction to the opening of FOREST FAIR MALL (1988) {2.8 miles northwest, in Forest Park and Fairfield}. At this time, the remaining, ultra-modern architecture at TRI-COUNTY was torn out and a second mall concourse added on top of the first.

This remodeling and expansion brought a 14-bay Food Court and Central Atrium, with a 2-tiered, waterfall fountain. Two multi-level parking garages were built, along with a 3-level (236,000 square foot), Cincinnati-based McAlpin's. This store was dedicated August 6, 1992. With its completion, TRI-COUNTY MALL encompassed 1,281,700 leasable square feet, with a directory of one hundred & seventy stores and services.

McAlpin's morphed into a Dillard's in June 1999. Meanwhile, Pogue's had been rebranded as an Indianapolis-based L.S. Ayres on October 29, 1984. The store re-opened, as a J.C. Penney, on November 7, 1988 and was shuttered in July 2005. The vacant structure was gutted.

Its lower level was subdivided into a multistory glass atrium, with Ethan Allen Furniture, BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse and seven inline stores. These opened between late 2007 and early 2008. The upper level became a (50,000 square foot) Krazy City indoor theme park. This included carnival rides, a mini-golf driving range and go-kart track.

The shopping complex was acquired by the New York City-based Thor Equities Corporation in January 2005. In May 2006, a joint venture of Beachwood, Ohio-based Developers Diversified Realty and New York City-based Coventry Real Estate Advisors established majority ownership. Thor Equities retained a small percentage.

Soon, a proliferation of new lifestyle and power centers began to usurp TRI-COUNTY MALL. By 2012, the facility was in receivership, with several vacant store fronts lining its corridors. In May 2013, a foreclosure sale was ordered by a Hamilton County judge.

The mall was sold at a sheriff's auction in July, with the buyer being the Singapore-based Sing Haiyi Group, Limited. They immediately announced plans to bring TRI-COUNTY "back to its former glory", with a renovation and repositioning of the property.

A 35 million dollar remodeling was underway by mid-2015, with freestanding Men's Wearhouse, Starbucks Coffee and Chipotle Mexican Grill stores under construction. These were built as the first phase of a west-facing Streetscape that would run along Princeton Pike and make TRI-COUNTY MALL "look like a lifestyle center".

Meanwhile, a possible stumbling block for the mall's renaissance presented itself. LIBERTY CENTER {7.4 miles northeast, in Butler County} opened in October 2015. Anchored by Dick's Sporting Goods and Dillard's, its close proximity caused the TRI-COUNTY Dillard's (by now operating as a Clearance Store) to be shuttered. The store went dark on October 8, 2015.

Starbucks became the first operational Streetscape tenant on November 6, 2015. Men's Wearhouse (relocating from inside the mall) made its debut soon after. Chipotle Mexican Grill welcomed its first diners in March 2016. The grand openings of these stores were followed by the closing of another. Sears' 51-year-old store went dark on August 5, 2018.

The Cincinnati Enquirer
Personal recollection of the author
City Of Springdale "History On-Line" website (Developers Diversified Realty) (American Pacific International Capital)
Dallas' Big Town Mall  

A vintage view of the first enclosed and air-conditioned shopping mall in the Texas Metroplex, as well as the entire Southwestern United States.
Photo From Malls Of America Blogspot.

A vintage aerial view of BIG TOWN MALL, looking southward. The Sanger Brothers ("Sanger's") anchor store is in the foreground with a Montgomery Ward off in the distance.
Photo from Oscar Slotboom /

Dallas' BIG TOWN opened in February 1959 with much media fanfare. Actually, at the time, a fully-enclosed shopping mall was a big deal, as there were only two other regional-sized enclosed malls in the United States. The original complex spanned 750,000 leasable square feet, housed forty-five stores and services and had parking provisions for 4,000 autos.


SANGER BROTHERS / MONTGOMERY WARD (with freestanding Auto Center) / J.C. PENNEY / F.W. WOOLWORTH (with luncheonette) / WRIGLEY supermarket / Andes Candies / Big Town Beauty Salon / Big Town Barber Shop / Big Town Coffee Shop / Big Town Town Hall / Big Town Town Square / Bond Clothes / Butler Shoes / Dallas East Publishing Company / Federal Bake Shop / Gift Shack (kiosk) / Hallmark Cards (kiosk) / Hardy Shoes / Harvest House Cafeteria / Kinney Shoes / Lee Optical / Lerner Shops / Margo's La Mode / Mode O' Day Frock Shop / National Key (kiosk) / National Shirt Shops / Olan Mills Studio / Owen Shoes / Paris Hats / Phillipson's / Planters Peanuts (kiosk) / PPG Auto Glass / PPG Paints / Rexall Drug (with luncheonette) / Snack Shack (kiosk) / Tie Rak / Toy Fair / United Finance / Volk's / Wash -n- Dry Coin Laundry / Western Auto / Zale's Jewelers / Zinke's Shoe Repair / Zip Cleaners

MEZZANINE (above Town Square):
Atlas Insurance / Big Town Mall Office

On hand at the February 1959 BIG TOWN MALL grand opening was none other than James Cash Penney (1875-1971). He personally opened his company's 38,000 square foot BIG TOWN store.
Photo from

Although BIG TOWN was Dallas' first enclosed mall, it wasn't the first mall in the Metroplex. This distinction goes to a nearly forgotten open-air complex in the city's Oak Cliff section. A. HARRIS CENTER, dedicated in February 1956, was anchored by an A. Harris & Company department store and Tom Thumb grocery. The shopping hub was shuttered in 1976 and converted into an educational facility.
Photo from 

The single-screen Cinema At Big Town was added, as a freestanding structure, to BIG TOWN MALL. The motion picture venue opened for business in February 1964.

A mid-1980s view of the northwest corner of BIG TOWN MALL. The north anchor, now branded as a Sanger-Harris, appears in the background. An updated J.C. Penney store is seen on the right.

A late 1980s physical layout. The mall's only expansion, a 39,000 square foot addition to Montgomery Ward, had been completed in 1975. Other than this, the basic footprint of the mall remained unchanged for all of its commercial existence.
US 80 East and Big Town Boulevard
Mesquite, Texas

Ground was broken for the first fully-enclosed shopping mall in the Southwest in August 1957. The complex-to-be was built on an 80 acre tract, located 7 miles east of center city Dallas, in suburban Mesquite.

BIG TOWN MALL was developed by Denver's Gerri Von Frellick ["fray-lik"] and designed by the Tatum & Quade firm of Dallas. A grand opening was held on February 26, 1959. At this time, the shopping venue spanned approximately 750,000 leasable square feet and housed forty-nine tenant spaces.

A 3-level (104,000 square foot), Dallas-based Sanger Brothers anchored the north end of the complex, with a 2-level (124,500 square foot) Montgomery Ward on its south end. There was also a 1-level (38,000 square foot) J.C. Penney on the northwest corner. The shopping concourse facing the Sanger's store was known as Broadway, with the north-south corridor referred to as Main Street.

Charter tenants included Harvest House Cafeteria, Western Auto, Bond Clothes, Rexall Drug, an F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10, Wrigley's supermarket and Town Square (a six-hundred-seat public auditorium).

The General Cinema Corporation Cinema At Big Town showed its first feature on February 27, 1964. This venue, and the Big Town BowLanes, were added as southern outparcels of the mall proper. A (101,000 square foot) Woolco discount mart was built east of the mall and opened for business in the spring of 1967.

In later years, one of the features of BIG TOWN MALL was Lollipop Park, an enclosed children's amusement area. It included rides such as a mini-train, mini ferris wheel, Sky Fighter, roadway, Brownie tractors and helicopters. There was also a Magic Mountain Indian Village.

The malling of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex intensified after the completion of NORTHPARK CENTER {8 miles northwest, in Dallas}, in 1965. In 1971, TOWN EAST MALL {4 miles east, in Mesquite} opened for business.

In order to compete with all of the malls that were being developed in its trade area, BIG TOWN underwent a renovation in 1975. Ward's was expanded -to 164,200 square feet- with additions on the store's east and west sides. A face lift refurbishment was done to the mall in 1988.

Unfortunately, BIG TOWN was soon in decline. The Sanger Brothers store, now operating under the Sanger-Harris nameplate, was merged into the Houston-based Foley's chain in 1987. The store closed for good in 1989. Woolworth went dark in 1993, with Montgomery Ward shutting down in March 2001.

By the turn of the century, BIG TOWN was a dilapidated, virtually vacant, shopping center. Only a few stores with exterior entrances were still in business. Demolition plans were finalized in early 2006. By September of the year, BIG TOWN, and most of its outparcels, were a pile of rubble.

A redevelopment plan, envisaged by Dallas' Kent Jones, proposed building a sports and entertainment complex on the site. This would have included baseball fields, soccer fields, an amphitheater and indoor training facility, with additional space for lodging, restaurants and retail. Unfortunately, The Great Recession caused this redevelopment project to be abandoned.

The vacant mall site was sold to an operative of the Dallas-based SLJ Company in August 2012. In April 2016, it was announced that Dallas' 42 Real Estate development company was building a (334,000 square foot) shipping hub for the FedEx Corporation. This facility was dedicated in August 2017.


The Dallas Morning News Branch Store.doc
Dallas History Message Board / "Big Town Shopping Center" / September 28, 2003 / Don Davis / Dallas Forum / "Mesquite's Big Town Mall"/ Mike Cochran
"Sanger Brothers" article on Wikipedia
Phoenix's Chris-Town Center

The first fully-enclosed shopping center in Arizona was built in the northern environs of Phoenix. Although signage on the front of the complex plainly reads "Chris-Town Mall" in this 1963 postcard pic, the shopping hub was officially promoted as CHRIS-TOWN CENTER at the time. Go figure...
Photo from

In this snapshot from May 1961, the retail hub is still in the throes of construction. Its Korrick's anchor store, yet to open for business, appears in the foreground.
Photo from "The Webb Spinner" / May 1961 (Del E. Webb Corporation / Sun City Museum, Arizona) 

Meanwhile, Bob's Big Boy, a freestanding mall outparcel, was up and running. The restaurant had opened in February 1961.
Photo from "The Webb Spinner" / May 1961 (Del E. Webb Corporation / Sun City Museum, Arizona) 

Here we see an aerial view of CHRIS-TOWN CENTER, taken on its grand opening day, August 24, 1961. The complex was thronged with shoppers during its dedication, with over 130,000 in attendance. The resulting traffic tie up was considered the worst in the city's history.
Photo from "The Webb Spinner" / September 1961 (Del E. Webb Corporation / Sun City Museum, Arizona) 

Another grand opening day snapshot. Montgomery Ward, the mall's second anchor, appears in the foreground. The shopping hub also housed a dry-goods-only J.C. Penney among its fifty-three store spaces.
Photo from "The Webb Spinner" / September 1961 (Del E. Webb Corporation / Sun City Museum, Arizona) 

We switch back to color photos for the following spread. These reveal the true beauty of the original CHRIS-TOWN, which -to the author- qualifies as one of the most stunning Mid-Century Modern malls ever built. Here we see the Court Of Fountains, which was situated at the center of the one-thousand-foot-long "refrigerated" mallway.
Photo by kind permission of John Bueker

Equally as breathtaking was the Court Of Flowers, the focal point of the mall's east end. The area featured lush tropical vegetation and a papier mache' bull known as Ferdinand. The Sidewalk Cafe snack bar is seen in the background.
Photo by kind permission of John Bueker

The Court of Birds, at the west end of the shopping facility. The cages contained a variety of feathered creatures. Behind all of the hanging bird cages is a Woolworth's mall entry. Montgomery Ward's storefront appears on the right.
Photo by kind permission of John Bueker

To get our bearings, we have a basic physical layout of the original CHRIS-TOWN CENTER. This drawing shows the mall proper and its three outparcel structures; the aforementioned Bob's Big Boy, a First National Bank branch and Convenience Center, which included an El Rancho Market grocery store.

Getting a bit more detailed, we present a high-definition Complete Plan which shows all of the fifty stores and services that were in operation at the August 1961 grand opening of CHRIS-TOWN CENTER. Three spaces are still available for leasing.

We'll call the next two photos Chris-Town Christmas Past. The mall is shown as it was decorated for its very first yuletide season, in December 1961. A contemporary account related that the "Christmas Fantasyland" at CHRIS-TOWN was a display of beautiful "kaleidoscopic colors".
Photo from "The Webb Spinner" / December 1961 (Del E. Webb Corporation / Sun City Museum, Arizona)  

Here we see the interior of the festively-festooned shopping hub, which featured giant-sized storybook characters, Santa in a snow-white igloo, a gingerbread house and mini-castle.
Photo from "The Webb Spinner" / December 1961 (Del E. Webb Corporation / Sun City Museum, Arizona)  

By 1979, the complex is quite a bit larger and encompasses around 1.2 million leasable square feet. The east anchor has been Broadway-branded and nearly doubled in size. J.C. Penney has also been enlarged and upgraded to a full-line store. Two wings (in medium gray) were added in the mid-'70s. A Southwest Wing includes a Los Angeles-based Bullock's. The Southeast Wing has an upper level 6-screen multiplex.