EASTLAND CENTER
North Citrus Street and East Workman Avenue
West Covina, California

Los Angeles County's first freeway-adjacent shopping mall was built on a 49 acre parcel, located 22.5 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. The site was directly north of a newly-opened stretch of the San Bernardino Freeway (Interstate 10).

Originally an open-air center, EASTLAND was designed by Albert C. Martin and developed by May Centers of St. Louis. It comprised 671,000 square feet, with a 4-level (340,000 square foot) May Company California as its primary anchor. This store was the sixth location in the Los Angeles-based chain.

"May's Eastland" opened October 16, 1957 and was built in the grandest of ultra-modern style. A contemporary write-up described the following accoutrements; dramatic exterior design, bright, contemporary interior decor, sleek, silent escalators and elevators and complete air-conditioning of the interior spaces. A fallout shelter was accessed via the basement of the store.

EASTLAND CENTER was oriented on two levels. The mall proper comprised the Upper Level, which was accessed from the north parking area. The "Lower Esplanade" was beneath the Upper Level stores and faced, toward the south, onto a lower parking area.

Charter inline stores included W.T. Grant, Long's Drugs, Bond Clothes, Clifton's Cafeteria, Comar's Shoes, Harris & Frank, See's Candies, Zukor's and an F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10.

The first twenty-seven stores had opened, with much fanfare, October 24, 1957. By mid-1958, there was a compliment of fifty-four inline stores and services, including those in an outparcel shopping strip, known at the time as "Avenue Shops". This adjunct of the mall was situated in the northwest parking area. Its (42,000 square foot) Hiram's supermarket gave Blue Chip trading stamps with all purchases.

The land surrounding EASTLAND CENTER was developed over the next decade. The Huddle Restaurant opened in 1958. There were also two across-the road outparcel entertainment venues; the single-screen Eastland Theatre (which debuted in 1963) and Carousel Theatre In The Round, a live-performance house (in business by mid-1965).

The first shopping complex competitor, WEST COVINA FASHION PLAZA {2.3 miles southwest, also in West Covina} opened for business in 1962. This was followed by PUENTE ["poo-in-tay"] HILLS MALL {5.8 miles southwest, in the City Of Industry}, which was dedicated in 1974.

By 1978, the mall and concourses at EASTLAND CENTER were being enclosed and a 2-level (80,000 square foot) Mervyn's was being added. These mall modifications were completed in 1979.

Unfortunately, EASTLAND was in a serious state of decline by the early 1990s. PLAZA AT WEST COVINA (a redress of WEST COVINA FASHION PLAZA) had become the dominant mall in the immediate vicinity. The grand old "May's Eastland"  store was shuttered in January 1993. Its basement area had been leased by Sportmart some years before.

Plans to demall EASTLAND CENTER into a big box-based power center were announced in the mid-1990s. The mall, practically deserted by this time, closed in 1997. It was purchased by Australia-based Westfield Group in 1998. The structure was gutted, except for Mervyn's. Eleven stores were fitted into the interior spaces of the Upper and Lower Levels.

 The new-style -once again open-air- WESTFIELD SHOPPINGTOWN EASTLAND debuted in 2000. By mid-2005, the official name of the shopping hub had been truncated to simply WESTFIELD EASTLAND.

The tenant roster of the 844,200 square foot complex included a 1-level (122,000 square foot) Target and 1-level (75,000 square foot) Burlington Coat Factory. These stores occupied the site of the old "May's Eastland". In addition, there were Bed, Bath & Beyond, Chick's Sporting Goods, Office Depot and Marshalls. The Avenue Shops outparcel strip center had also been renovated. It featured an Albertsons supermarket, Long's Drugs and several smaller retailers.

Westfield performed a renovation on the EASTLAND property in 2011. The Circuit City store, vacated in 2008, was sectioned into four retail spaces. PetSmart (17,800 square feet) opened June 27, 2011. Habit Burger and Pacific Fish Grill began business in May and July of the same year. Dollar Tree (11,200 square feet) came inline September 23, 2011.

Moreover, a new restaurant pad was built, which housed Qdoba Mexican Grill, Waba Grill Teriyaki House, Menchies Frozen Yogurt and Verizon Wireless. These businesses were dedicated in October and November 2011. 

Westfield sold the "non-core property", now known as EASTLAND CENTER, to Phoenix-based Cole Real Estate Investment in May 2012. On November 14, 2012, WalMart opened an EASTLAND store. The 2-level (120,000 square foot) location was installed in the old Mervyn's and Levitz spaces. 

Sources:

The Star News
preservenet.cornell.edu/publications/Longstreth Branch Store.doc
Information and photos from Jeff Arellano
Los Angeles County tax assessor website
http://eastlandwc.blogspot.com / "Eastland Center- West Covina- 1957-1970s"
www.westfield.com
Kara Glover Charles Phoenix.com
http://www.eastlandcenter.com