The "New Look" Penney's at FALLBROOK SQUARE. At its grand opening, held in November 1966, it was reputedly the second-largest suburban store in the chain, then based in New York City.

52 comments:

Mitch Glaser said...

The western San Fernando Valley ended up being "over-malled." It's amazing that Fallbrook Mall was able to co-exist with two other centers in the area for more than 20 years. Topanga Plaza now dominates the market, but the redeveloped Fallbrook Center continues to fill a need through its big-box mix.

Fallbrook Mall in its final years

The Curator said...

Although they were probably a little bit similar back when they both were opening (in-around 1964) as "middle market" malls; TOPANGA and FALLBROOK sure followed different trajectories.

It's pretty amazing that 50-sum Los Angeles County malls co-existed at all...simply mind-boggling.

I dunno whatever possessed these deveopers to build that many in one single county...but...it was, after all, LA.

Mitch Glaser said...

The growth in Southern California since World War II has basically allowed developers to build anything they want under the mantra of "if you build it, they will come." While some malls have failed, the majority still thrive today.

The continued growth of the region gives me job security as an urban planner. I would be worried about putting food on the table if I worked in Detroit!

The Curator said...

How true about So-Cal and its incredible post-WW 2 growth. Nowhere else could they build 50-sum malls in a single county, with many of them surviving.

There are those that didn't (POMONA VALLEY/INDIAN HILL, LA MIRADA) and most of the others in the "Lost Malls of LA" section here. Still, the number of malls that thrive in the region is still staggering.

So many I chat with over the internet don't care for LA. I tend to like it....but I don't know if I could actually live there....even if I could afford the incredibly-expensive cost of living.

Its a GREAT place to visit....and (to me) the most fascinating of all of America's cities.

Anonymous said...

I love malls!! So glad I found your blog..it's wonderful.

Just wanted to correct you on something though. You stated "The old Fox Fallbrook Theatre, which closed in 1984, is torn down. A new Laemmle 7 multiplex is built, adjacent to Penney's."

I actuality, the old Fox theathre was replaced buy a 6 screen General Cinema. It later expanded to 10 screens in the 90's. Not long after, an AMC 16 w/stadium seatings opened nearby at the Westfield Promenade and took lots of business away.

The theatre finally closed in 1999, but was taken over by the Laemmle chain in 2001. The chain only used 7 of the 10 screens. The remaining screens have since been replaced by a few retail stores.

Anyway, keep up the good work.

The Curator said...

Anon,

I'm pleased that you "dig" the blog here.

I've been a fan of malls since way back in 1969 [see DAYTON MALL, June 2008 archive].

Doing this blog is an INCREDIBLE amount of work..I dunno is anyone realizes...hee hee. It can be unbelievably difficult to establish certain facts....when researching something from 1970, or whenever.

I guess it's amazing how much one can find out.....IF they dig enough.

FALLBROOK SQUARE is one of my favorite articles on here. I was fortunate enough to find a lot of info about its VERY early years (1963-1967).

No one detailing the mall (on the various "mall" websites) even referred to it by its original name (FALLBROOK SQUARE). This detail had been obscurred by all of the years, I guess.

Thanks for the details about the Fox Fallbrook. I'll fix the article.

Cheers,

And thanks for perusing and posting.

artguyjoe said...

The old Fox Theater was completely torn down. The area where it was is now occupied by a Chuck E. Cheese. I happen to live 3 minutes from this mall.

The Curator said...

ArtGuy,

I have fixed the article here to CORRECTLY show that the Fox Fallbrook building no longer exists...and that it was (as you indicated) replaced by a Chuck E. Cheeses.

I don't know just how I got my wires crossed and thought that the theatre had morphed into the GCC and then Laemmle 7 multiplex....Oh well....at least it's straightened out now, hee hee.

I also reworked the 1967 site plan here a bit. It didn't have the Penney's Auto Center (which was off to the side of the drawing). It does now, as the drawing space has been expanded to the west a bit.

Anyway, thanks for perusing and posting.

Anonymous said...

Great article, Curator. Very glad you have this on the internet for all to see. I know the Center well as I grew up with it since 1971. One error:

"By the 1990s, FALLBROOK MALL was in a substantial state of decline. Major tenants had bailed out and were replaced by a series of local, mom and pop retailers, such as Bo-Jan's Arcade, Susie's Deals and Hello Kitty."

Bo-Jan's arcade was never a part of the mall that declined. It was an original tenant in the original outdoor center...driving around the back of Sears towards the now-Home Depot, it would have been one of the first stores on your right, accessible thru a door facing west as well as an inside entrance along the exterior walking corridor of the center. I miss that arcade SO MUCH! Thanks.

The Curator said...

Anon,

I'm pleased you liked the FALLBROOK dissertation here.

I have corrected references to Bo-Jan's...adding it to the 1971 Tenant List....and removing it from the dead mall/1990s section of the written copy.

Today, I spent some more time on this article ...a personal favorite...and established the CORRECT procession of names that this center has gone under during its 46 years in business;

*(PLATT RANCH CENTER) Late 1950s-early 1960s [pre-opening]

*FALLBROOK SQUARE 1963-1986

*FALLBROOK MALL 1986-2001

*FALLBROOK CENTER 2001-present

Doing research, I was -at first-amazed at how the mall's tenure as FALLBROOK "SQUARE" has been pretty obscurred by the passing of all the years...

It seemed like no one even remembered that the complex started out as a "SQUARE". It was only after I had dug around a bit in the past before this archaic name was revealed to me.

The same thing happened with today's WESTFIELD CENTURY CITY. I had to watch an old Walter Matthau movie to see that this shopping center was known as CENTURY SQUARE back in the days (it was used as a setting for 20th Century Fox's "A Guide For The Married Man" [1967]).

These kind of things are what make this blog - site so relevant.....If you ask me. If these things are not recorded for posterity...they might be completely forgotten.

Thanks much for posting.

Michael said...

I remember Nibblers a restaurant/bar that was on the Vanowen side just north of where Trader Joe's is now. I think it is now a bath/beauty supply store.

Michael said...

What a great site this is. Love the info about the old SFV

Cecelia said...

Does anyone remember the name of a juice bar in California in the 1960's/1970's? I was thinking there was one at Fallbrook, but perhaps not. I remember being able to order carrot juice, pomegranate juice, etc. It seems like it had a pink interior...but maybe not!

The Curator said...

Cecelia,

I don't know the name of a FALLBROOK juice bar. There is a FALLBROOK CENTER -circa-1971- tenant list in this article...and I don't see anything like that listed there.

Could this juice bar closed before 1971?

Thanks for posting.

Laura said...

hi curator,
love your work here - awesome. i wanted you to know, as someone who grew up around the corner from the fallbrook mall (and mom is still in that house) that even to this day (april 2010) my family and i (including the generation that have come after us) STILL call it FALLBROOK SQUARE - it will never be anything different to us!

The Curator said...

Laura,

Thanks so much for posting.

Had I grown up out in "The Valley", I'll bet I would also always refer to this mall by its original name...no matter how many times it is officially changed to something else.

Cheers,

skathan said...

One thing about Fallbrook Square that I've never forgotten was the delicious sub shop slightly north of JCPenney.

Gosh, they made some excellent sandwiches there.

For the life of me, though, I cannot remember the name of the place. I thought that it was something like "Four D's", but my sleuthing on the 'net has turned up naught.

Does anyone a. remember this sub shop, and b. the name of it?

The Curator said...

Skathan,

I haven't been able to find a name for it either....Could it have been "Sy's Ma Gordon's Deli"?

Thanks for posting,

Cheers

xVal said...

I came searching for info on Fallbrook Square (yes, it'll always be that) because I'm trying to remember the name of a restaurant that was there. I think it was cafeteria style. It was on the east side, near the middle. I think it was in the spot that eventually became Cloth World.

It's possible the place someone is referring to as a juice bar was Lindberg's Nutrition (I may have the spelling wrong. I seem to remember that their logo, as well as interior were pink.

Four D's does sound familiar, but I wouldn't swear that it's right.

xval said...

Oh...and don't forget Karl's Toys.

The Curator said...

You aren't referring to the ONTRA Cafeteria?

Thanks for perusing and posting.

Cheers

Victor said...

I remember going to the Fallbrook Mall when I was a kid. From 1994 to 1997, those were the years. I also remember going there trick-or-treating. My mom always used to go to J.C. Penney and she would take me. My nephew went to Discovery Zone for his birthday.

I just went there recently after more than ten years just to find out that the mall was gone and that the department stores still remain. I didn't know they destoryed the mall part, but to me it's like they destoryed a piece of my childhood.

The Curator said...

Victor,

As the old saying says "you can never go home". This also could have some relevance when you return to something like a shopping mall after not having been there for 10 years.

In the case of FALLBROOK, it had changed dramatically in the 10 years between the 1997 and 2007.

It would REALLY have been a mind blower to have been there last in 1970 and then come back in 2010.

Cheers and thanks for posting,

Unknown said...

Hey! Reading about the Fallbrook Mall/Square is really fun and brings back a lot of memories! Thank you.

Cecilia asked about a juice bar that may have existed there and I'm wondering if she may be thinking of Lindberg Nutrition. It wasn't exactly a juice bar, but they had a wonderful lunch counter that served juices and something like smoothies that you could order in all sorts of exotic juice flavors.

The decor was very pink... Like Mary Kay Cosmetics.

The Curator said...

Unknown,

Glad you liked the write-up here. Thanks for posting the info.

Cheers,

Anonymous said...

A couple of things I see missing from the early days of Fallbrook Square are Nibblers Coffee Shop which was where Blockbuster is/was and Rey's Hardware, which I believe was a True Value Hardware roughly south of JC Penneys/Kohls near F.W. Woolworth. On the front of the open mall, there was one of the early Marie Calendars, later next door a Lindburg's Nuitrition and at the southeast corner of Sav-On ther was an H Salt Fish and Chips. I would imagine most all of these came in late 60's or early 70s

The Curator said...

Thanks much for posting. However, I am rather perplexed by your mention of the "missing" Rea's Hardware, Marie Callendar's, Nibbler's Restaurant and H. Salt Esquire Fish & Chips at FALLBROOK SQUARE.

The location of Rea's Hardware was/is shown on the circa-1967 FALLBROOK site plan. Marie Callendar's, Nibbler's and H. Salt Esquire's were (and are) included in the circa-1971 Tenant List.

Cheers,

Cory said...

I was greatly interested to read all the comments of the bloggers here. Wow, does all this bring back memories! So I decided to include some of my own story, too. I was three years old when my parents decided to move to Canoga Park in 1957. My dad was just starting a new job at a brand new facility called Rocketdyne. His company would go on to design and build major rocket engines that powered the Mercury, Apollo, Saturn, and Space Shuttle vehicles. When I first saw the place where our house would be built, there were no buildings yet. In fact, there were sheep grazing instead. The new track of homes would be called ‘Sunkist’ homes; our house appearing on Dannyboyar Avenue. The story I was told, is that the last name of the guy who managed the design of this new tract, was ‘Boyar’. He had two sons, Danny and Bobby. So there was a Dannyboyar and a Bobbyboyar Avenue.
The best part about moving there was the huge open field within sight of my new house. In fact, to a young boy like me, it was so big it was more like a completely different world; more like another country. It took a considerable amount of time just to walk across that open land. All the boys (and some girls) loved to play there. We built forts and barricades from tumbleweeds and old cardboard, so we could reenact battles and war stories of Cowboys and Indians. My parents frowned upon this at the time, telling me how that land belonged to someone else and we didn’t have permission to trespass on someone else’s land. They were also afraid of the snakes and other wild animals that most likely lived there. Of course, that information just made it more appealing to all us kids. Years later I read how Walt Disney was looking for open land to build his new park. He considered Canoga Park and my open field (which was many times greater in size back then). However, he soon discovered the West Valley gets really hot in summer; too hot to build a park, so he settled on Anaheim.

Cory said...

When I started kindergarten, I usually walked through this open land on my way to Hamlin Street Elementary on the other side of Fallbrook Avenue. Part of my walk included a portion of Victory (which had just been recently paved) with its huge Eucalyptus trees. I made this daily walk through the second grade. Then a new school was finished, Welby Way Elementary, so I didn’t make the journey through my favorite field every day. Not too long after that, new construction started. A part of my open land soon became known as, Fallbrook Square, the only name I can ever call it. I watched as Sears went up. My parents were thrilled. No longer did they have to drive the family all the way to Reseda or Van Nuys just to shop at a large department store. Topanga Plaza was still a year from opening. (By the way, all those place names like Canoga, Topanga, Tujunga, that end with ‘ga’ are old Chumash Indian names. The ‘ga’ ending means ‘the place of’. In their language, Canoga means something like, the place of Cano; Topanga, the place of Topan.)
Being so close to my house, Fallbrook Square became a very large part of my growing up. It was always a fixture in my life, as a young boy and later on as a teenager looking for a place to hang out with friends. I remember when I was eleven or twelve, attending the Kids Summer Movie Festival at Fallbrook Theater. Sitting there with my bag of popcorn, I watched Robert Wagner play Prince Valiant. The kids that made up the west valley were a unique mix. There were the techno kids, with fathers or mothers like mine who worked at a technical place like Hughes or Litton. There were the farm kids from longtime resident agricultural families who went back several generations in the valley. And there were the kids from families who worked in the film industry down in North Hollywood. Seeing actors at Fallbrook Square was a common thing. Once I pointed out a very elderly gentleman to my father while we were in the Food Giant directly across Fallbrook Avenue from the mall. That’s Buster Keaton I said. As my dad turned to see, the old man knocked over a store display on chili cans, while trying his best to keep them from falling. My father had to retreat to another store aisle while he stifled his laughter. Later my father said he didn’t know if it really was an accident, or Buster Keaton was just showing how he could still act and get a laugh. My younger sister went to school with and befriended Lisa Weaver, Dennis Weaver’s youngest daughter. The Weavers didn’t live too far from us. We saw the Weaver family at Fallbrook Square several times. It was still a little before the Valley Girl Era, but we kids and our families were already making a mark on the culture. I remember the early summer evenings there, strolling with friends through the outside open mall. Rocketdyne would test fire a rocket engine in the nearby Santa Susanna foothills and light up the entire west valley. The wind would shift, bringing the smell of sweet orange blossoms from a nearby grove in Woodland Hills. It was a happy time of growing up for me. I would later leave Canoga Park in 1973 to live in Tennessee. To pay for college I worked a period of time for Radio Shack. That company must have seen something in me, because they wanted me to become a store manager. But to take that position, they wanted me to move far away. Guess where? Completing a full circle of sorts, I became the store manager of a nice Radio Shack store in Fallbrook Square in 1977. So I came back home. Later I would go to work for Rocketdyne, like my father, and work there for fifteen years.

Cory said...

None of my family lives in California anymore, but my parents continued to live in that same house on Dannyboyar until 2006. So like me, they watched as Fallbrook Square went through all its ups and downs; through all its transitions, rebirths, and renamings. Let me finish with the best part of that mall, a place I don’t think anyone else here has mentioned. Carl’s Toy Store, a totally magical place between Sav-on and Market Basket. I don’t know how many happy hours I spent there. Back then, I had very little money. But the store manager graciously allowed me to spend many countless summer afternoons there looking at all the toys I wished Santa would bring me. That store IS Fallbrook Square to me. I will never forget.

The Curator said...

Cory,

Thanks much for posting the interesting essay about FALLBROOK SQUARE. I, too, remember the mid-baby boom era when all of the tract house developments (and associated suburban shopping centers) were being built practically everywhere.

Our neighborhood center (not a huge, FALLBROOK-like mall by any standard) had a W.T. Grant store. Of course, that's long gone now...as the original FALLBROOK SQUARE is.

Cheers,

Darcy said...

I have been a "friend" on the Facebook page "I Grew Up at Topanga Plaza" and have enjoyed the many posts about my hometown from the late 50's though the late 70's. Someone posted a link to your page here and I have just now read all of the posts about Fallbrook Square, as it will always be for me. My first job was working at Sears in the early 70's.

Have been feeling a little nostalgic so I was going to share "my story" of Fallbrook Square. But alas, I happened to read the last post from Cory - it turns out he has told my story as I would have told it - he is my brother! I know we both have wonderful memories of a unique place - San Fernando Valley. No matter where I go (currently living in SC) I can tell people I grew up in the and everyone knows where and what it is.

Thanks all for some wonderful memories of my old hangouts. I can still remember the old SavOn drug jingle from all the radio commercials.

I will continue to read and enjoy in the future . . . keep posting!!!

The Curator said...

Darcy,

Thanks so much for perusing and posting. Hope your week is going well.

The Curator

Pastor Zip said...

Ah, thanks for the memories. I, too, grew up just a few blocks away, remembering the wide-open space even further West than our home (where my parents still live) that became Fallbrook Square.

One of my memories is that the man who fitted me shoes at Comars in Reseda came to the new Fallbrook Square Comars, where he would fit my shoes for most of the years I was at Hamlin St. School. Summer matinees at the Fox Theater. Taking the escalator down to the huge toy dept. at Sears (after getting the new school year's clothes) -- but I bought my Matchbox cars and models at Karl's Toys. Watching the trout swim in the tank at Frederick's Old Time Butcher Shoppe, next to Spira's Barber Shop where Paul (complete with Italian accent) cut my hair. (In the '80s, after closing Spira's, Paul would move to Topanga Plaza as "Top Hat," once again cutting my now-adult, and longer, hair.)

One of the more interesting things (at least to me) is how many times Fallbrook Square has declined (the first time was after the Apollo program was cancelled c. 1971 and so many of our West Valley neighbors were put out of work), even been given up for dead, then remade itself, and thrive -- though always only for a little while, and never quite to the developers' hopes.

Thanks again!

The Curator said...

P Z,

Thanks much for perusing and posting at the MALL HALL OF FAME.

Cheers,

Ken said...

This is a very nostalgic discussion. I grew up on Royer Ave. and spent many hours hanging out at Fallbrook Square in the late 60's and early 70's. I remember when Sight and Sound sealed up a time capsule into their wall back in the mid-60's. It got a lot of local publicity and it was a big secret as to what was put inside it. It wasn't going to be opened for 100 years. Now that Sight and Sound is gone and the mall has been changed so much, I'm wondering what ever happened to the time capsule?

The Curator said...

Yes..the discussion of FALLBROOK SQUARE has proved to be one of the most engaging on the entire site. I'm impressed by how many comment posts this article has received.

As for The House of Sight & Sound's time capsule..no doubt it ended up in the mall's rubble pile & was unceremoniously hauled to a landfill someplace...Who knows?

So much for the preservation of history.....As we have come to realize...a shopping mall has about as much life expectancy as a World's Fair pavilion...

Thanks much for posting.

FS. Weller said...

Many fond memories were mine at Fallbrook Square. Ontra's Cafeteria, Nibbler's Restaurant, Karl's Toys and Hobbies, Sears, Fox Theater, Radio Shack (Cory, you probably sold me more than a few batteries!), The Four D's Sub Shop, Sight and Sound (bought my first records there), H. Salt... and if you stretch it a little: Foster's Freeze!

Platt Villiage was closer but nothing beat Fallbrook Square. Those were the days! :)

Anonymous said...

Grew up riding our bikes to Fallbrook Square in the early to mid 70s. Great memories of summer days growing up in the Valley. Great posts everyone.

Anonymous said...

This is an amazing blog - and I have enjoyed reading the posts. Does anyone remember early/mid-70's some TV show that was filmed at Fallbrook Square???
Thanks!

The Curator said...

I've never seen anything filmed at FALLBROOK. I did see a "Wonder Years" with scenes at STONEWOOD and an "Adam 12" with a brief scene at BULLOCK'S FASHION SQUARE (Sherman Oaks).

BubbleBottomFeeder said...

My wife and I bought our first home in Canoga Park in 1984 and sold it in 1986. So we did a lot of shopping at Fallbrook Square as it was called then. This brings me to my question. In 1989 we bought a home in Fallbrook, CA in North San Diego County. I'm just curious how Fallbrook Avenue in the West San Fernando Valley got its name? The town of Fallbrook was named after Fall Brook, PA by its original settlers, the Reche family. Great blog!

Tom said...

I moved to Canoga Park in 1966. We lived on Heartland St. Directly across Vanowen to the Plaza West Bakery. Sy's Deli, Fredericks Butcher shop(I think that's the name) Don's Fallbrook Square Florist, and Nibblers. I worked at Market Basket from 1970 to 1975. Dated a few of the girls that worked in the Brookdale Donut shop inside Market Basket! In 1976 I believe I opened the Fazio's market. I was told that our opening week was the largest west of the Mississippi! Something like a $750,000 grand opening week. I have many fond memories of this mall!

The Curator said...

Obviously, a lotta Los Angelinos have a special place in their memories for FALLBROOK SQUARE. There have been a LOT of comments posted to this article. Thanks for adding your memories.

Anonymous said...

I think they might be referring to Lindberg Nutrition. It was very pink inside. I worked there in 1979/1980. We made fresh carrot juice and fresh squeezed orange juice.

The Curator said...

Anon,

Thanks much for posting,

Anonymous said...

I moved the West Valley in the early 70's when I was very young. Fallbrook was the B or C level mall in that area. Topanga was where it was more hip, things more appealing for kids (ice rink, records stores, fascinating stores like Spencer's, Food Court, indoor mall with A/C for the hot summers). Promenade didn't really have any fun stores, and it was for the "rich" people with Saks Fifth Ave and Bullocks.
Despite that, I have fond memories of Fallbrook. Back when I first moved there, Sears and JC Penny were the big anchor stores at Fallbrook. It was an outdoor mall. I remember Lindberg's, the cool arcade in the back, Crocker Bank, Sav-On's, H-Salt Fish & Chips, Straw Hat Pizza, Nibbler's, Market Basket, Carl's, Plaza bakery (where they made the best rectangular layer cake with alternating layers of mocha creme, yellow cake, chocolate cake, and covered in whip cream), and the movie theater. I saw Bambi, Mysterious Monsters, and Forbidden World. As best as I can remember, there were only 2 screens. There was a time when Santa came in a helicopter and landed in the ?southeast corner of the mall (by Victory and Fallbrook). That's all I can remember as I was a little boy. I rode my bike there with friends. It was never busy at Fallbrook like Topanga, but still, the independence I had riding there and hanging out there as a teenager was fun. Then, in the 80's, there was the decision to create an indoor mall. Target moved in, JC Penny became an outlet (and turned very dumpy), a food court built, and a bunch of new indoor tenants. The mall still was very empty and just couldn't compete with Topanga. Mervyn's came and went. I miss Marie Callendar. A Burlington Coat Factory came, which was a sign that the mall was going downhill. Then, the mall became an outdoor mall again. I moved away, but still visit family and go by the mall. It brings back a lot of memories, and hearkens back to days that I wish I could be young and carefree again.

The Curator said...

Anon,

Thanks much for posting the FALLBROOK mall memories. I think most who visit this site yearn to go back to more carevfree days. I surely do. Cheers.

Joe S. said...

There were actually at least two major motion pictures filmed there. The first was a movie with Dudley Moore and Eddie Murphy called Best Defense filmed about where The Home Depot stands now. Then much more recently a movie with Jim Carey and Tea Leoni called Fun with Dick and Jane. The latter used the now closed 24hr. Fitness.

The Curator said...

Joe,

Thanks much for posting...Cheers.

Kelly said...

Not sure if anyone still reads this site, but I found it in a search for 'Ontra Cafeteria'. What a wonderful place. I grew up at Fallbrook Square..ate at H Salt weekly, won 5th place at a photo contest at Penny's in the late 1960's (even had my pic posted at the top of the escalator), bought my 45's at Sears and ate all the time at Ontra with the striped Jello! What a memory. I even bought my wedding dress at Penny's Outlet. It was a sad day when that mall was covered. Thanks for posting such wonderful stories.

The Curator said...

Kelly,

Yes, people do look at this site on a daily basis. Yesterday, there were nearly 700 page views. Last week, the total was 4,900. The week before, 5,900. The week before that, 4,300.

Thanks for posting.