Milwaukee's Capitol Court Center

The original trademark of Milwaukee's very first shopping mall, circa-1956. 

A rendering of the prospective CAPITOL COURT mall. The primary anchor, Milwaukee-based Schuster's, is seen near the center. A smaller T.A. Chapman appears in the upper left. A multistory medical office building (also in the upper left) was proposed but never built.
Drawing from the Milwaukee Journal

A 3-level Schuster's, the fourth store in the chain, fronted on the open Capitol Plaza. It was rebranded as Gimbels-Schusters in 1962 and as a Gimbels in 1969. The store closed in 1984.
Drawing from Historic Photo Collection / F.P. Zeidler Humanities Room / Milwaukee Public Library

A rendering of the restaurant at Schuster's CAPITOL COURT store.
Drawing from Historic Photo Collection / F.P. Zeidler Humanities Room / Milwaukee Public Library

A northward view of the shopping hub's Capitol Mall. A Woolworth's 5 & dime is seen on the left.
Drawing from Historic Photo Collection / F.P. Zeidler Humanities Room / Milwaukee Public Library

The south end of Capitol Mall, with the T.A. Chapman anchor store on the right.
Drawing from Historic Photo Collection / F.P. Zeidler Humanities Room / Milwaukee Public Library

The circa-1962 configuration of CAPITOL COURT. Its initial construction, done between 1953 and 1956, comprised the largest single building project the city had ever seen. The two store blocks shown in gray were added to the mall in 1959.


GIMBELS-SCHUSTERS (with Golden Anchor Room restaurant) / T.A. CHAPMAN COMPANY / J.C. PENNEY / F.W. WOOLWORTH (with luncheonette) / KOHL'S FOODS / KRAMBO-KROGER FOODS / WALGREEN DRUG (with luncheonette) / Andes Candies / Angelo Shoe Repair & Valet Service / Artistic Gift Shop / Badger Paint & Hardware / Baker's Shoes / Big Shoes / Bitker-Gerner ladies' wear / Bradford Music Company Phonographs / Buddy Squirrel's Nut Shop / Capitol Court Garden Center (outparcel) / Capitol Court Travel Service / Carpets, Incorporated Floor Coverings / Chandler's Shoes / Chudik's Fur Dealers / City Loan Company / Coach Light Greeting Cards / Colony Shop / Corned Beef Corner Cafe / Cotton Shop ladies' wear / Den Mar Kiddie Kourt children's wear / Edward's Hairdressing Salon / Ellenbecker Jewelers / Fabric Mart / Fairways Miniature Golf (outparcel) / Fanny Farmer Candies / Father & Son Shoes / Field's Incorporated ladies' wear / First Wisconsin National Bank / Heineman's Confectionery / Hobby Horse Hobby Center /  Johnnie Walker's For Gentlemen / Jones Stanley Corsets / Keller's Beverage Center Liquors / Kiddietown Amusement Area (outparcel) / Kiddietown Trampoline Center (outparcel) / Lemke Insurance Agency / Lerner Shops / Louis J. Zubren, Dentist / Maru Imports / Mary Lester Fabrics / Maternity Modes / Mid-West Tire & Auto / National Trunk Store Luggage / Pancake Kitchen / Peter P. Schlenz, Podiatrist / Pewaukee Mattress & Furniture / Richman Brothers men's wear / Robert W. Baird & Co. Investment Broker / Schiller's Millinery / Schmitt Clothes, Incorporated  / Sheldon Stone & Associates / Sherwin-Williams Paints / Singer Sewing Center / Singer's Whitefish Bay ladies' wear / Spic & Span Dry Cleaners / Steller's Jewelers / Stein's Juvenile Shoes / Stuart's Ready-to-Wear For Ladies / The Playroom Toys / Wauwatosa Realty / Wayne's Barber Shop / West Federal Savings & Loan / William H. Heineman Bakery  

A vintage advertisement promoting Candy Cane Lane, a holiday-themed redress of the shopping complex. The "Kooky Cooky House", seen in the lower left, was a yuletide tradition in the city for many years.
Advert from

By the mid-1970s, with two fully-enclosed malls in its midst, it had come time for CAPITOL COURT to be climate-controlled. A roofing renovation was done between March 1977 and August 1978. An updated logo was also commissioned.

A provisional physical layout of CAPITOL COURT, following its 7 million dollar makeover. The center court and concourse had been given a "gardenlike" enclosure, existing stores were expanded and new tenants added to the directory. A Food Court had also been installed. The mall now housed 850,000 leasable square feet.

Zooming to the year 1996, we have another provisional depiction of the shopping hub, which had been in a downward spiral for several years. An unsuccessful facelift remodel had been done in the early '90s, followed by the demolition of its two anchor department stores (by then vacant). A little over 650,000 square feet of mall had been left standing.

CAPITOL COURT MALL was demolished in early 2001. It was replaced by MIDTOWN CENTER, an open-air power plaza, whose first phase was dedicated in August 2002.
Photo from DLC Management Corporation

An aerial plan of MIDTOWN CENTER, with structures remaining from CAPITOL COURT MALL surrounded in blue.
Original photo from

A Lowe's Home Improvement Center, which was only in operation at MIDTOWN CENTER for 4 & a half years, sat vacant for more than 7. In July 2016, the building was acquired by a Phoenix-based firm who planned to repurpose it as a warehouse.
Photo from 
West Capitol Drive and North 60th Street
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee's first bona fide shopping mall was developed by Ed Schuster & Company, a local department store chain, and was designed by Seattle's John Graham, Junior. The retail facility was built on a 57 acre site, located 7 miles northwest of the Central Business District. Ground was broken for the project in September 1953.

Originally an open-air venue, CAPITOL COURT encompassed 745,000 leasable square feet. The 20 million dollar complex was comprised of a ground level of retail and service basement. The lower floor included basement sales floors for the larger stores and a small arcade of shops.

An official grand opening was held August 28, 1956. The primary anchor, a 3-level (260,000 square foot) Schuster's, began business along with with a 2-level (65,000 square foot), Milwaukee-based T.A. Chapman. There were initially fifteen stores and services.

A 2-level (50,000 square foot) J.C. Penney opened, as the 1,709th store in the chain, October 11, 1956. By early 1957, the retail roster at CAPITOL COURT had been expanded to a total of fifty-one retailers. These included Bitker-Gerner ladies' wear, Badger Paints, Chandler's Shoes an F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10 and two supermarkets; Krambo and Kohl's. The Kiddie Town mini amusement park was set up adjacent to the north parking area.

Construction commenced on a 60,000 square foot expansion in January 1959. It consisted of two-store blocks, built west of Schuster's. The addition brought seventeen new stores and was dedicated September 25, 1959. The mall now encompassed 805,000 leasable square feet and contained seventy-five stores and services.

Competitors of CAPITOL COURT included BAY SHORE CENTER (1954) {3.8 miles northeast, in Milwaukee}, as well as MAYFAIR CENTER (1958) {3.3 miles southwest, in Wauwatosa} and NORTHRIDGE MALL (1972) {5.9 miles northwest, also in Milwaukee}.

In April 1962, the first anchor rebranding at CAPITOL COURT took place. Gimbels-Milwaukee bought Ed Schuster & Company. All Wisconsin Gimbels and Schuster's stores went under the Gimbels-Schusters heading until July 1969, when they were converted to a Gimbels nameplate.

The RKO-Stanley-Warner Capitol Court Cinema made its debut on May 27, 1964. It was built, as a freestanding structure, in the mall's east parking area. The venue was twinned and re-opened, as the Capitol Court I & II, November 4, 1977. It was shuttered in 1989.

An enclosing renovation of the mall got underway in March 1977. The Capitol Plaza court area, fronting on Gimbels, was filled with a 45,000 square foot, twelve-tentant, structure. Exterior entries to stores were sealed. County Seat, Thom McAn Shoes, Florsheim Shoes, Playmakers and Casual Corner joined the retail roster.

The 7 million dollar project wrapped up with a week-long grand opening celebration, beginning August 23, 1978. The official name of the venue was changed to CAPITOL COURT MALL. The center now encompassed 850,000 leasable square feet.

Unfortunately, the surrounding area was in decline. Shoppers were patronizing newer and larger malls in the region. Soon, CAPITOL COURT was struggling. T.A. CHAPMAN closed in 1979, with its space becoming a Milwaukee-based Boston Store. Gimbels was shuttered in 1984. Target gutted and rebuilt the structure and opened the largest store in the Dairy State on October 13, 1985.

The next anchor change occurred when J.C. Penney closed their CAPITOL COURT location, in July 1986. This space was taken by Dunham's Sporting Goods. In July 1987, the Boston Store vacated the mall. The building was renovated as a new format "Sears Limited" store, which was dedicated November 15, 1989.

Sears lasted a little more than 2 years. It was shuttered in January 1992. Target pulled out of CAPITOL COURT MALL on January 31, 1996. Dunham's Sporting Goods called it quits in 1997 and Kohl's Foods (a charter tenant) closed in 1998.

The mall was left anchor-less and abandoned. Its owner, Seattle-based Winmar Pacific, had attempted to revitalize the center twice during the 1990s. The first remodeling, done between October 1992 and July 1993, added new ceilings, floors and lighting. Mall entrances were upgraded, as well.

The second renovation commenced in August 1996. The vacant Target was demolished along with the old Chapman's. New retail space was constructed and new tenants courted, all with little success.

By the beginning of the 21st century, the 44-year-old shopping mall was on its last legs. The property, which was over 70 percent vacant, was sold in February 2001 to a consortium of Milwaukee-based Boulder Venture and the Los Angeles-based Canyon-Johnson Urban Fund.

Demolition began in the spring of 2001, with three outparcel buildings being incorporated into a new retail complex known as MIDTOWN CENTER. The venue, which would initially encompass 275,000 leasable square feet, was implemented in two phases.

The first was anchored by a 1-level (161,000 square foot) Wal-Mart SuperCenter. This store welcomed its first patrons on August 14, 2002. Inline stores included Foot Locker, One Price Clothing, PayLess ShoeSource and a 1-level (55,000 square foot) Pick 'n Save supermarket. A 1-level (134,300 square foot) Lowe's Home Improvement Center joined the fold in February 2005.

A second construction phase was announced in May 2006 and completed in the following year. Office Depot and Anna's Linens stores were added. MIDTOWN CENTER now encompassed 408,500 leasable square feet and contained forty-three tenant spaces.

The center encountered its first major hurdle on September 22, 2009, when its Lowe's store was shuttered. A plan to subdivide the vacant building into smaller big box stores was proposed but never carried out. WalMart shuttered their MIDTOWN store on January 28, 2016.

Over the years, MIDTOWN CENTER has changed hands twice. Its first sale, to Oakbrook, Illinois-based Inland Western Retail Real Estate, closed in February 2005. Inland sold the complex to New York City's DLC Management Corporation in April 2014.


Gary Nosacek's mall memories
"Retro Milwaukee" website / Dave's mall memories
The Milwaukee Journal
Memories of Milwaukee's Capital Court Shopping Center " / J. Watter,
Milwaukee Business Journal, October 22, 2004


The graphics and renderings from The Milwaukee Journal and Milwaukee Public Library 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 the images 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.
Minneapolis' Apache Plaza

The mall's original trademark.
Graphic from "Center of the Community" brochure / Apache Properties /

An early 1960s aerial view of APACHE PLAZA. Here we see the south end of the mall. On the lower left was a National Food Stores supermarket. The southern exterior entrances of Montgomery Ward would have been along the portico on the lower right.
Photo from

A street-level -and full color- view of the APACHE PLAZA "Monkey Ward".
Photo from

A circa-1961 site plan of the mall, with some of its tenants indicated. The center also had a lower level, with basement store spaces for the major tenants, as well as a state-of-the-art bowling alley and one-hundred-and-fifty-seat Community Room. The parking lot could accommodate 2,700 autos.


J.C. PENNEY / MONTGOMERY WARD (with freestanding Auto Center) / F.W. WOOLWORTH (with luncheonette) / G.C. MURPHY (with luncheonette) / Apache Barber Shop / Apache Beauty Salon / Apache Color Center / Apache Investment Services / Apache Jewelers / Apache Pet Center / Apache Sports & Health Club (outparcel) / Apache Studio Of Loughridge Bengtson, Incorporated / The Arches Restaurant / Ben Franklin Federal Savings & Loan / Bishop's Apache Ranch / Bonne's Shoes / Bowl-O-Mat (lower level) / Brown Photo / Buttrey's ladies' wear / Captain's Cove Cafeteria / Caresse Hosiery / Carolyn's Fashions / Cobbler's Nook Shoe Repair / Coon Rapids Pottery / Dotty Dunn Hats / Fanny Farmer Candies / Farmer's Mutual Insurance / Farnham's Stationery / Flagg Brothers Shoes / Flowers By Louiselle / Gambles / The Gift Gallery / Harold's, Inc. / Insurance Mart / Jack & Jill Shops children's wear / Jerry's Bake Shop / Jolly's Toy & Hobby / Katherine's, Incorporated Costume Jewelry / Key Rexall / Kiddyland / Kinney Shoes / Lancer Stores / Minnesota Piano & Organ / Mobil Oil (outparcel) / Record Lane / National Food Stores / Plaza Cocktail Lounge / Plaza Liquors / Plaza Soda Bar / U.S. Post Office and Information Center / Read & Greet Shop / Shirley's Maternity Fashions / Singer Sewing Center / Taft Marine / Three Sisters ladies' wear / Waldorf Cleaners / Willie's Wash Coin Laundry / Young-Quinlan Rothschild

A circa-'62 view of the Center Court Fountain at APACHE PLAZA. The Googie-style, hyperbolic paraboloid roof sections may be seen, along with the original, Mondrian-inspired colored glass windows.
Photo from

The APACHE PLAZA J.C. Penney, following a 1980s face lift. The store has been rebranded with the circa-1971 Helvetica font "JCPenney" trademark.
Photo from

After the mid-1990s demise of the APACHE PLAZA Penney's, the northern section of the mall was ripped down. The outparcel health club building was also bulldozed. A freestanding Cub Foods was built as a "shadow anchor".

A new Cub Foods was unable to reverse the decline of APACHE PLAZA. The store was left standing when the mall was demolished in 2004.
Photo from (Doran Companies

From the "what comes around goes around" department, we submit Wal-Mart. This store opened, in March 2005, as an anchor of the "new & improved" SILVER LAKE VILLAGE; a replacement for the "aging" APACHE PLAZA. WalMart abandoned SILVER LAKE VILLAGE in April 2014, when a new location was dedicated in nearby Roseville.
Photo from
37th Avenue Northeast and Silver Lake Road
St. Anthony, Minnesota

The nation's first regional-class, fully-enclosed shopping complex was SOUTHDALE CENTER (1956), which was developed in the southwestern environs of Minneapolis. The second enclosed center in the North Star State was built in the "North Twin Cities".

Ground was broken for APACHE PLAZA on April 18, 1960. The center was constructed on a 42 acre plot, previously a pig farm, that was located 5 miles north of the Minneapolis CBD. Developed by the Minneapolis-based Apache Corporation, APACHE PLAZA was designed by Willard L.Thorsen, of Minneapolis, who had envisaged Birmingham, Alabama's EASTWOOD MALL (1960).

The eleven million dollar, "space-age center" was dedicated on October 19, 1961, with Governor Elmer L. Andersen (R) in attendance. The grand opening festivities continued for three days and included prize giveaways, remote radio broadcasts and marching band shows. 

APACHE PLAZA originally housed fifty-seven stores and services, with four outparcel structures in its periphery. The complex was centered on a 3-story-high court area, with multicolored clerestory windows beneath a ceiling of ten poured-concrete, hyperbolic paraboloid shells.

Anchoring the mall were a 2-level (60,000 square foot) J.C. Penney and 2-level (64,000 square foot) Montgomery Ward. Charter tenants included a Young-Quinlan Rothschild junior department store, National Food Stores supermarket and F.W. Woolworth and G.C. Murphy 5 & 10s. The mall had a subterranean floor which housed the 36-lane Bowl-O-Mat, a Community Room, leased office spaces and lower floors for the major retailers.

The shopping center served as a catalyst for further development of the surrounding area. The Apache Office Park was dedicated in 1964, with the Apache Medical Complex coming along 2 years later. On January 31, 1969, the single-screen Chief Theatre opened, which was 1.5 blocks west of the mall.

Retail hubs built in the vicinity of APACHE PLAZA included HAR-MAR MALL (1961) {3.3 miles southeast, in Roseville}, BROOKDALE CENTER (1962) {4.6 miles northwest, in Brooklyn Center} and ROSEDALE CENTER (1969){2.7 miles southeast, also in Roseville}, which eventually became the primary retail rival of APACHE PLAZA.

The first anchor change at APACHE PLAZA occurred in 1971, when Young-Quinlan Rothschild vacated their space. The 2-level store re-opened under the Van Arsdell nameplate in 1972. In 1979, Montgomery Ward closed. Its area was divided into smaller spaces, with the largest being occupied by Furniture Barn.

Van Arsdell's lasted for 8 years. Its morphed into Home Base Liquidators in 1981. By this time, G.C. Murphy had closed and been replaced by True Value Hardware. In 1983, a face lift renovation was done to the interior and exterior of APACHE PLAZA, which replaced much of its early '60s, "space age" features.

On April 26, 1984, a tornado damaged the southern end of APACHE PLAZA. The exposed areas were further impaired by a severe snowstorm, which occurred soon after. The center was closed for 7 months, while six million dollars worth of repairs could be completed.

Unfortunately, the refurbished mall was not able to compete with newer and more trendy shopping centers in the region. The dedication of a St. Cloud, Minnesota-based Herberger's, on July 30, 1987, helped keep it viable for a time. However, in the mid-1990s, the mall's owners defaulted on their loan.

The dire situation at APACHE PLAZA was exacerbated by the shuttering of J.C. Penney and Woolworth's. With these store spaces empty, it was decided to tear down the northern fifth of the mall. A (76,000 square foot) Cub Foods was built as a "shadow anchor". Unfortunately, the  mall continued on its downward spiral.

A Bulldozer Bash, held in April 2004, commemorated the center's 43 years of service to the community. By May, the complex was a pile of rubble. Work soon commenced on a power center, which was being developed by New Brighton, Minnesota-based Pratt-Ordway Properties and Bloomington, Minnesota-based Doran Companies.

SILVER LAKE VILLAGE was anchored by the existing Cub Foods and a 1-level (144,000 square foot) Wal-Mart SuperCenter. This store welcomed its first shoppers on March 23, 2005.

Sources: / Jeff Anderson, webmaster
"Apache Plaza" article on Wikipedia / "Har-Mar Mall" article and posts
"A Look Back At Apache Plaza" / Star Tribune / Rick Nelson / May 13, 2004
Dallas' NorthPark Center

An aerial view of the mall soon after its August 1965 dedication. With nearly 900,000 leasable square feet, it was one of the largest fully-enclosed shopping centers in the nation.
Photo from / "Coltera"

Shoppers stroll the Neiman-Marcus Garden Court on the mall's grand opening day, August 19, 1965.
Photo from

The NORTHPARK Penneys, which -in 1965- was the largest JCP operation in the Southwest.
Photo from 

A site plan of the 1965 center, which was the second interior mall in the Texas Metroplex. Back in the day, NORTHPARK was more of a mid-market merchandiser, with a Woolworth 5 & 10, J.C. Penney, SupeRx Drugs and outparcel Kroger supermarket. Of course, there were also the upscale "Titche's" and Neiman-Marcus department stores.


TITCHE-GOETTINGER (with Granada Restaurant and freestanding Auto Center) / NEIMAN-MARCUS (with The Little Mermaid Restaurant) / J.C. PENNEY (with Coffee Shop, Beauty Salon and attached Auto Center) / F.W. WOOLWORTH (with luncheonette) / American Express Company / Black Forest Bakery / Bombay Shop / Bond Clothes / Butler Shoes / Canterbury Shop / Card Corner / Card Shop / Carriage Shop / Centennial Liquors Mall Store / Chandler's Shoes / Coiffure Continental / Colbert's / Commonwealth Club / Community Hall / Contour Chair / Cullem & Boren / Doubleday Book Shop / Dreyfuss & Son / El Fenix Restaurant / Florsheim Shoes / Freeman Shoes / Games Imported / Gittings N-M / Home Furniture / Hong Kong Fashions / Hot Shoppes Restaurant / House of Nine / I. Miller Salons / Jarman Shoes / John Bull Pub / Kinney Shoes / Leeds Ties / Lerner Shops / Linz Jewelers / London House Restaurant / Margo's LaMode / Marlowe Camera / Marriott Cafeteria / Vivian McNeil / Melody Shop / Merle Norman Cosmetic Studio / Milton's Clothing Cupboard / Mode O' Day Frock Shop / Murata Pearl / National Shirt Shops / Northpark Cinema I & II (outparcel) / Olan Mills Studio / Page Boy Maternity Shop / Pants Parlour / Parklane Hosiery / Paul's Shoes / Realife Vitamins / Red Cross Shoes / James F. Riggs Offices / Russell Stover Candies / Saybrook Fabrics / Seeburg Piano & Organ / Shaw's Jewelers / The Shoe Box / Singer Sewing Center / Stylish Stout Shop / SupeRx Drugs / The Swiss Colony / Texaco Service Stations (outparcel) / TSO (Texas State Optical) / Thom McAn Shoes / Toy World / WFAA studio-Dallas Morning News offices / Jas. K. Wilson / Woody's NorthPark Barbers / Zale's Jewelers / Zenith Cleaners & Launderers / Zinke's Shoe Repair    


KROGER supermarket / Centennial Liquors Park Lane Store / NorthPark National Bank of Dallas

Crowds in the Fountain Court on grand opening day, 1965. By the way, the fountain looks exactly the same in the 21st century. Of course, the nameplate on the wall has been changed a couple of times.
Photo from

The exterior of the mall's very "Mid-Mod" Titche-Goettinger. The store encompassed 2-levels and 250,500 square feet. It was the Dallas-based chain's fifth branch location.
Photo from 

The mall's west anchor, Dallas-based Neiman-Marcus, and its adjoining court area. Originally encompassing 2 levels and 164,000 square feet, the store was the chain's fourth branch.
Photo from

Center Court in the original NORTHPARK.
Photo from Malls Of America Blogspot

A physical layout, dated 10 years after the first. Here we see NORTHPARK following its first expansion (indicated in dark gray). This project added a NorthWest Wing and Lord & Taylor anchor store.

Zooming up to the 1990s, we see a trainset on the Dallas Area Rapid Transit / DART. The Big D's light rail network extended service to the Park Lane station stop in January 1997. Although said station was not directly adjacent to NORTHPARK CENTER, the two were connected via a short shuttle bus ride...or -heaven forbid- a brisk walk.

Built on the site of an abandoned and demolished J.C. Penney, Houston's Foley's opened at NORTHPARK in October 2000. As one might surmise, the 250,000 square foot store now sports a Macy's nameplate.
Photo from Wikipedia/"02080" 

A circa-2005 shot of the mall's Nordstrom-Foley's Wing, which was still under construction.
Photo from Dallas County, Texas

A sign of a truly upscale NORTHPARK CENTER is its Nordstrom. The store, which was the piece de resistance of the mall's 2004-2006 expansion, welcomed its first customers in May 2006.
Photo from Google Maps

Barneys New York, another so-called "luxury retailer",  has operated stores in two different locations at NORTHPARK CENTER. The first, encompassing 19,000 square feet, was in business between 1990 and 1997. The second, consisting of 88,000 square feet, is seen here. It was in business between September 2006 and April 2013.
Photo from Wikipedia / "020808"

The massive mall makeover done between 2004 and 2006 added the aforementioned Nordstrom-Foley's (make that Macy's) Wing and and 15-screen megaplex. Newly-built mall area is shown in light gray.

Over the years, NORTHPARK CENTER has become known for the works of art gracing its courts and concourses. In the foreground we have "Large Leaping Hare" (1982), by Barry Flanagan.
Photo from

The Constructivist piece "Ad Astra" (2005) was created by Mark Di Suvero.
Photo from (Omniplan Architects)

Joel Shapiro was commissioned for "20 elements" (2004-2005).
Photo from

Lastly, we have "Companions" (2008), done by Tony Craig.
Photo from

A NORTHPARK plan dated 2015 shows some of the mall's relocated tenants, as well as a few new ones. Nike now inhabits a large chunk of the Southeast corner. Likewise, the old Lord & Taylor / Barney's space has been divided five ways. Arhaus Furniture and PIRCH take up most of the area.

The mall's position as purveyor of fine art and haute couture is accented by its reverence for history. Other malls routinely renovate, often tearing out classic modern architecture and replacing it with the latest style du jour. Not at NORTHPARK. The design aesthetic used to build the mall has been repeated with every expansion. On its 50th anniversary, in August 2015, the center was still being promoted with the circa-1965 graphic seen above.
Graphic from
North Central Expressway / US 75 and Park Lane
Dallas, Texas

The completion of Texas' BIG TOWN MALL, in 1959, inspired Raymond D. Nasher, a Dallas developer and art connoisseur. He began to plan a second interior mall for the Metroplex, which would be built on a 97 acre cotton field, 7.2 miles north of Downtown Dallas, at the intersection of the North Central Expressway and Northwest Highway.

NORTHPARK CENTER was designed by renowned architect Eero Saarinen (with input from Kevin Roche) and Dallas-based Harrell & Hamilton (now known as Omniplan). It was one of the first shopping centers in the nation to use a unified design aesthetic in its construction and graphics. Built of white Texas brick with floors of highly-polished concrete, the center utilized simple, clean lines. It was also among the first major shopping centers in the nation to prominently feature large-scale works of art; these culled from Mr. Nasher's personal collection.

NORTHPARK CENTER housed three anchor department stores. The 2-level (250,500 square foot), Dallas-based Titche-Goettinger ["Tiytch Get-injer"] and 2-level (164,000 square foot) Neiman-Marcus were dedicated July 22, 1965. The mall's 2-level (250,000 square foot) J.C. Penney opened for business -along with seventy-seven stores and services- August 19, 1965.

A ribbon-cutting dedication ceremony included music by the Richardson High School and Wilmer-Hutchins bands, a prayer by Rabbi Levi Olan and a speech by Raymond D. Nasher.

Charter NORTHPARK CENTER tenants included Marriott Cafeteria, Doubleday Book Shop, SupeRx Drugs, Singer Sewing Center, Melody Shop and an F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10. There were also two large outparcels. A (47,000 square foot) Kroger was situated in a Convenience Center. The General Cinema Corporation NorthPark Cinema I & II was dedicated September 9, 1965.

Within a few years of the completion of NORTHPARK CENTER, there were several competing malls in the area, including TOWN EAST MALL (1971) {4.3 miles southeast, in Mesquite}, VALLEY VIEW CENTER (1973) {4.3 miles northwest, in Dallas}, RICHARDSON SQUARE (1977) {6.4 miles northeast, in Richardson} and GALLERIA DALLAS (1982) {4.5 miles northwest, also in Dallas}.

An expansion of NORTHPARK CENTER was completed in 1974. This consisted of a 2-level Northwest Wing and 2-level (135,000 square foot) Lord & Taylor. Four parking structures were also added. The mall now encompassed 1.3 million leasable square feet.

This renovation was followed, in 1979, by the first anchor rebranding, as Titche-Goettinger became a San Antonio-based Joske's. This store occupied the shopping center's southeast anchor spot until the chain was bought, and rebranded, by Dillard's in 1987.

On October 11, 1984, Neiman-Marcus NORTHPARK had held a grand re-opening celebration for its newly-expanded store. A third level had been added, increasing the size of the building to 218,000 square feet. Dillard's was also expanded with a third level. The enlargement was completed in October 1994, with the building now housing 299,500 square feet.

Woolworth vacated the mall, followed by J.C. Penney, in August 1999. The empty Penney's was torn down, with a 2-level (250,000 square foot), Houston-based Foley's opening on its spot October 6, 2000. The outparcel twin cinema had closed in 1998 and was bulldozed in 2001.

Lord & Taylor, who conducted a retail store retraction during 2004, closed their NORTHPARK location early in the year. With this store and the cinema gone, plans for a major mall expansion were given impetus.

Nancy Nasher and her husband David Haemisegger sold a fifty percent interest in their family-run retail center to the Santa Monica-based Macerich Company, while retaining full operational control. Dallas-based Omniplan Architects were recruited to design a North Wing expansion. Ground was broken for the 235 million dollar project in May 2004.

The north and northwest parking garages were demolished. A 3-level (203,000 square foot) Nordstrom was built, along with a 2-level (260,000 square foot) mall concourse. The new area housed the American Multi-Cinema Northpark 15 and NorthPark Cafes Food Court. Two new parking garages were also constructed.

The expansion rebooted the existing tri-wing mall as a four-concourse quadrangle, which surrounded a 1.4 acre CenterPark green space. The all-new NORTHPARK was officially dedicated May 5, 2006. The complex now encompassed 1,809,800 square feet and contained two hundred and twenty stores and services.

On September 29, 2006, Barneys New York opened a branch of their luxury department stores (the second to operate in the mall). The NORTHPARK location, occupying part of the old Lord & Taylor, encompassed 2-levels and 88,000 square feet.

The store was not successful and was shuttered in April 2013. Its space was sectioned into five retail spaces. On the first level, a new Nepresso (gourmet coffee boutique) was created. Kate Spade and C.H. Carolina Herrera also relocated.

The second level of the old Barney's was divided into two stores. A 32,000 square foot PIRCH, a San Diego-based appliance and outdoor store, was dedicated August 23, 2014. It was followed by a 24,000 square foot, Cleveland-based Arhaus Furniture, On November 14, 2014.

A final note, in November 2012, the Nasher-Haemiseggers bought back the share of NORTHPARK that had been sold to the Macerich Company in 2004, returning the shopping center to family ownership and operation.

Comment posts by "Dea41396" and "Jrking75"
"Northpark Center" article on Wikiedia
The Dallas Morning News
Dallas County, Texas tax assessment website / "Architype Review" / "Open Buildings"

Our LOST MALLS-PHOENIX write-up will discuss seven entrants. These are listed henceforth, under their original names.

*THOMAS MALL [1963-1993]
*(EAST) CAMELBACK MALL [1964-1994]
*TOWER PLAZA MALL [1967-1997]
*TRI CITY MALL [1968-1999]
*LOS ARCOS MALL [1969-2000]
*VALLEY WEST MALL [1974-2002]

NOTE: An eighth Greater Phoenix shopping hub, SCOTTSDALE GALLERIA, could also qualify as a LOST MALL. However, being as how its grand opening took place in 1990, it misses our MALL HALL OF FAME 1979 cut-off inclusion date.

A map of shopping malls in Arizona's Valley of The Sun. The area's expressway network is dated to what was open to traffic by 1985. Lost Malls are shown with gray squares, while present-day shopping centers are indicated with black ones.
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Phoenix was slow in adopting the "Freeway American City" model; this due to the desire of most Phoenicians to keep their metropolis from becoming yet another freeway-centric, Los Angeles-like urban center. Nonetheless, by the mid-1950s, work was underway on the region's first expressway.

At first, access roads and overpasses were built. By 1968, the controlled-access Black Canyon Freeway traversed the city from north to south. It was upgraded to Federal Interstate Highway standards in the 1970s.

By 1980, the region was served by four expressways; the Black Canyon (Interstate 17), Papago (Interstate 10), Maricopa (Interstate 10) and Supersition (US 60 Highway).

Back in the days, few of Phoenix's malls (and there were many) were "freeway friendly". CHRIS-TOWN was not terribly far from a freeway interchange, but the first truly freeway-adjacent shopping mall, METROCENTER, would not come along until 1973. It was soon followed by FIESTA MALL [1979].

The implementation of a comprehensive, regional freeway network in Phoenix finally gained impetus with the 1985 passage of Proposition 300. This initiative created a one-half-percent sales tax, with its proceeds to be used -primarily- to complete the freeway network that had been on the drawing board since the 1960s.

Nowadays, the push is on to extend the region's Valley Metro light rail system, which began revenue service in December 2008. Ironically, this transit network would connect TRI-CITY MALL, PARK CENTRAL CENTER and CHRIS-TOWN MALL, if these shopping hubs still existed in their original incarnations.

TRI-CITY MALL was bulldozed years ago. PARK CENTRAL CENTER is now an office complex. The CHRIS-TOWN property has gone through several name changes, renovations and a demalling. It is now a big box-based power center, so at least it is still functions in a retail capacity.
Phoenix's Maryvale Shopping City

Phoenix's second shopping mall opened 2 years after the first; PARK CENTRAL SHOPPING CITY (1957). When fully completed in 1965, MARYVALE SHOPPING CITY included two department stores, two grocery stores, two drug stores and the Bowlero bowling alley.
Photo from Malls of America Blogspot

Phoenix's 16 million dollar MARYVALE SHOPPING CITY opened in August 1959. It was at the center of Maryvale, one of Phoenix's first -and largest- post-war planned communities. The original mall was built in three phases. The first is indicated here in black. The second was completed in 1960. It added a Montgomery Ward anchor store (shown in gray). The complex now housed over 300,000 square feet.

The MARYVALE mall's basic footprint was completed with a third phase, completed in early 1965. A South Wing (indicated in gray) was built, which included a Fry's Food Store and Walgreen Drug.

A circa-1984 plan shows that the shopping hub has been fully-enclosed and renamed MARYVALE MALL. It includes a new Southwest Wing (in gray), added in the late 1970s, which was anchored by Mervyn's. A Zody's discount mart was built onto the South Wing in 1981. It has just been rebranded by Target. The shopping center now encompasses 585,000 leasable square feet and fifty-five stores and services.

Marc T. Atkinson Middle School, named in honor of a fallen Phoenician peace officer, opened in September 2000. The facility was one of three such institutions that were refashioned out of the obsolete MARYVALE MALL, whose final retail store closed in early 1998.
Photo from