The first post-war, suburban shopping center in the New York City metropolitan area, GARDENS OF GREAT NECK CENTER, was completed in May 1951. Located in Long Island's Town of North Hempstead, it was a small strip center of 216,500 leasable square feet.
The developer of GARDENS OF GREAT NECK CENTER, Sol Atlas, also built the region's -and state's- first mall-type shopping venue. CROSS COUNTY CENTER was located in the Westchester County suburb of Yonkers -not on Long Island- and was dedicated in April 1954. By late 1958, the complex, which incorporated retail, office and medical components, encompassed over 906,000 leasable square feet.
The GARDENS OF GREAT NECK and CROSS COUNTY shopping hubs were followed by five shopping malls built out on "The Island" (original names are used)...
*ROOSEVELT FIELD CENTER [August 1956]
*GREEN ACRES CENTER, [October 1956]
*MID-ISLAND PLAZA, [October 1956]
*WALT WHITMAN CENTER [November 1962]
*SOUTH SHORE MALL [August 1963]
In addition to being New York City and State's first shopping mall, CROSS COUNTY CENTER was also the first in Greater New York City to be freeway-friendly. A section of the New York State Thruway that ran along the west side of the shopping hub opened to traffic in September 1956.