New York City's Gardens of Great Neck Center


A circa-1951 view of Greater New York City's first suburban shopping venue, with a 51,000 square foot John Wanamaker at its center. This structure would house several different department stores over the next 27 years. Wanamaker's shut down in mid-1955. A Stern's branch was in operation between 1955 and 1961. Gertz occupied the space between 1961 and 1979.
Photo from Library of Congress

Another view of Long Island's GARDENS OF GREAT NECK CENTER.
Photo from Library Of Congress


Over the years, the retail hub would also be known as the NORTH SHORE CENTER and NORTH SHORE MART.
Photo from Library Of Congress


A physical layout of the Lathrop Douglass-designed shopping plaza, as it was configured in 1951. Its name was derived from the desire of its developer to promote it as a pastoral, tree-lined (suburban) complex.

We now embark on a tour of the John Wanamaker Great Neck store, as it existed way back in May of 1951. At the West Entrance is the Gifts Department.
Photo from Library of Congress


Above is a sweeping view of the Great Neck store's main sales floor.
Photos from Library of Congress


Here we see the Cotton Dresses racks.
Photo from Library of Congress


And the Wanamaker's Great Neck Men's Department.
Photo from Library of Congress


The store's perfume counter, also known as the Toiletries Department.
Photo from Library of Congress


Here we see the selection of Ladies' Sportswear.
Photo from Library of Congress


We now ascend the grand stairway to the Upper Floor...
Photo from Library of Congress

In this snapshot, we see the Ladies' Shoes Department.
Photo from Library of Congress


In a detail view is the famous Wanamaker Eagle. Every John Wanamaker store had one.
Photo from Library of Congress


In this image, we see the store's selection of Boy's Wear.
Photo from Library of Congress


Now we move on to the Toys Department.
Photo from Library of Congress


Descending back to the main sales floor, we go down the staircase seen here. It takes us to the store's basement level.
Photo from Library of Congress


On display in the Furniture Department is a sofa and dinette with dish cabinet. One might wonder how much these classic Mid-Century Modern furnishings would now be worth.
Photo from Library of Congress  


Here we see a more traditional sofa, with coffee and end tables.
Photo from Library of Congress


In this view, we have a very Mid-Century Modern bedroom suite.
Photo from Library of Congress


This model room is furnished with an Early American-style canopy bed and chest of drawers.
Photo from Library of Congress  


Here, we see more Early American bedroom furnishings.
Photo from Library of Congress 


A view of the John Wanamaker Great Neck Housewares Department.
Photo from Library of Congress


We end our time-traveling tour at the store's Rug Department.
Photo from Library of Congress

In a more contemporary photo, we see the Long Island Railroad's Great Neck Station, which is located across South Middle Neck Road from the shopping hub.
Photo from Wikipedia / Adam Moss 


A contemporary physical layout of the strip center, known today as THE GARDENS OF GREAT NECK. After the demise of the Gertz store in the late 1970s, the anchor space was expanded into a large Edward's supermarket. This was rebranded by the Waldbaum's chain in 2001.


And now, three photos of today's THE GARDENS OF GREAT NECK. We begin with the 2-level store structure at the northeast end of the complex. It houses two financial institutions; TD Bank (nee' World Savings) and Astoria Federal Savings & Loan.
Photo from Nassau County, New York



Moving toward the center of the center, we see the former John Wanamaker store. Today, it houses a Waldbaum's supermarket, Planet Fitness gym and a branch of the Great Neck Library.
Photo from http//www.showcase.com


A view of the southwest end of the complex, with Rite Aid Drug on the right.
Photo from Nassau County, New York
GARDENS OF GREAT NECK CENTER
South Middle Neck and Great Neck Roads
Nassau County (Town of North Hempstead), New York

Greater New York City's first suburban-style shopping center was constructed on a 7 acre parcel located 13.4 miles east of Times Square. The site, once part of the Grace Estate, was in Nassau County's Town of North Hempstead / Village of Great Neck Plaza.

Ground was broken for GARDENS OF GREAT NECK CENTER in June 1950. The open-air strip complex was developed by New York City's Sol Atlas and designed by Lathrop Douglass. The shopping facility encompassed approximately 216,500 leasable square feet.

GARDENS OF GREAT NECK CENTER was anchored by a 3-level (51,000 square foot), Philadelphia-based John Wanamaker, the chain's first suburban New York City location. This store opened for business May 16, 1951 and featured a huge, 2 story show window and two elevators; quite impressive features at the time.

Inline stores in GARDENS OF GREAT NECK CENTER included Millers apparel, Pennsylvania Drugs and an F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10. The parking area accommodated 500 autos.

Wanamaker's store turned out to be short-lived. It was shuttered May 3, 1955 and re-opened, as a New York City-based Stern's, September 2, 1955. This was the chain's first suburban branch. It became a New York City-based Gertz in 1961, that shut down in late 1979. The store's ground level was expanded into adjoining space, with a 1-level (31,000 square foot) Edward's supermarket being created. This operation was rebranded by the Waldbaum's chain on March 3, 2001.

Today, the Long Island shopping center still exists and, save for a 1990s face lift, is essentially the same as in the early 1950s. Of course, the stores are different. Nowadays, the Wanamaker / Stern's / Gertz is occupied by three tenants. In the basement is Planet Fitness. The ground level houses a portion of the aforementioned Waldbaum's supermarket, with the third level being devoted to the Station Branch of the Great Neck Library.

Also operating in today's THE GARDENS OF GREAT NECK are Rite Aid Drug, TD Bank, Astoria Federal Savings & Loan, Starbucks, Wells Fargo Bank, Chipotle Mexican Grill and Wild Ginger (an Asian fusion restaurant). The complex is owned and operated by Woodbury, New York-based Kabro Associates.

Sources:

"Great Neck Plaza Walking Tour" / Long Island Traditions / Nancy Solomon
"Great Neck Plaza" article on Wikipedia
Nassau County, New York property tax assessor website
Comment post by "Anonymous"
http://decisions.courts.state.ny.us/10jd/nassau/decisions/index/index_new/oconnell/2002may/003466-01.pdf


BLACK & WHITE PHOTOS:

From the Gottscho-Schleisner Collection / Repository: United States Library Of Congress Prints and Photograph Division, Washington, D.C. / Taken by Gottscho-Schleisner, Inc., 1952 / Photographs are in the public domain: no known restrictions on publication / www.loc.gov/rr/print/catalog.html
New York City's Roosevelt Field


A vintage view of the Macy's ROOSEVELT FIELD location. At the time of the mall's dedication, in 1956, it was the sole department store anchor.
Photo from Library of Congress

A circa-1960 aerial, showing the mall's original single anchor configuration. Space on its north end has been cleared for the construction of a second major department store.
Photo from http://www.vanderbiltcupraces.com



A circa-'63 ROOSEVELT FIELD CENTER plan. The nation's first shopping mall ice rink had opened here in 1958. With the addition of a new Gimbels, the gargantuan retail facility encompassed an astounding (for the time) 1,261,200 leasable square feet, making it one of the largest malls in the USA. Its vast parking area could accommodate 11,000 autos.


Gimbels Roosevelt Field rang up its first sale in August 1962. The store encompassed 3 levels and 240,300 square feet. It was the fifth branch of the Gimbels-New York division, following stores at Yonkers, Valley Stream, Bay Shore and Paramus, New Jersey.


A circa-1965 view of the main mall concourse. The nameplate of Gimbels Roosevelt Field looms in the distance.
Photo from http://pleasantfamilyshopping.blogspot.com


Howard Clothes, a Brooklyn-based men's & boys clothier, operated a store in the original shopping complex.
Photo from  http://pleasantfamilyshopping.blogspot.com


A site plan dated 1974 shows recent modifications made to the center. It was enclosed and climate-controlled in 1967-'68, with its name morphing into ROOSEVELT FIELD MALL. In the early '70s, two anchors joined the retail roster; Alexander's and J.C. Penney. Two parking garages were also built. La Petite Mall, a Tudor-motif mall within a mall, has just opened. 

Gimbels Roosevelt Field was shuttered in August 1986. Stern's assumed the vacant store and opened for business in February 1987.
Photo from http://www.occulude06.tripod.com


Aside from an anchor nameplate change, ROOSEVELT FIELD remained virtually unchanged through the 1980s. The mall shifted into a major expansion mode in 1991, with a first phase completed in April 1993. A partial Upper Level has been built on top of the northern half of the structure. One of the new features upstairs was a zeppelin-motif Food Court. 


Alexander's at ROOSEVELT FIELD closed in February 1991. The building was remodeled and re-opened, as an "A & S" (Abraham & Straus), in October 1992. This store lasted only 3 years. The Bloomingdale's seen here moved in in November 1995.
Photo from http://www.occulude06.tripod.com

The second half of the 1990s expansion was completed in two stages. The Upper Level was extended over the southern half of the mall, with fifty new stores being dedicated in September 1996. Two parking garages were also built; one on the southeast corner of the mall and a second, on its northwest end. The new and improved shopping hub was promoted with the logo seen above.
Graphic from www.rooseveltfield.com (Website on Internet Archive Wayback Machine)


In addition to an expansion of the second floor, a fifth anchor (Nordstrom) joined the tenant directory. With its completion in 1997, the "landmark mall" encompassed an astonishing 2,228,000 leasable square feet and housed over two hundred and fifty stores. In this circa-1997 plan, one may notice a new northwest entrance and exit portal for the service tunnel. The original portal, on the southeast corner of the complex, was displaced by the new Nordstrom.


That iconic Seattle-centric retailer set up shop in a 3-level -225,000 square foot- store in August 1997.
Photo from Nassau County, New York


The upstairs area of the mammoth mall was enclosed with dramatic vaulted ceilings. In this interior view, we see all three floors of the complex; its Concourse Level (or basement), Main Level and Upper Level.
Drawing from www.simon.com (Simon Property Group)


After the demise of the Stern's store, in August 2001, the building was divided between Galyan's Trading Company, Bloomingdale's Furniture Gallery and XSport Fitness. Galyan's gave way to the Dick's Sporting Goods seen here in October 2004.
Drawing from www.simon.com (Simon Property Group)

In a circa-2017 site plan, recently-completed renovations are indicated in shades of gray. Neiman Marcus, rumored to be joining the mall for years, has been added as part of a new Southwest Wing. A fourth parking garage has also been built, which connects with Macy's and Neiman Marcus. Lastly, an Upper Level Dining District has taken the place of the circa-1993 Food Court.


A rendering of the mall's Dining District. The 17-bay food facility includes indoor and outdoor seating and houses fast-food outlets such as Johnny Rockets, Juice Generation, Sarku Japan, Charley's Philly Steaks and Patsy's Pizzeria.
Drawing from www.simon.com (Simon Property Group)


Texas' trendy Neiman Marcus chain added a sixth anchor to ROOSEVELT FIELD, which was the first Neiman's on Long Island. The store was dedicated on February 19, 2016.
Drawing from www.simon.com (Simon Property Group)
ROOSEVELT FIELD CENTER
Meadowbrook Parkway and Old Country Road
Nassua County (Town of Hempstead), New York

Long Island's first post-war shopping center, GARDENS OF GREAT NECK CENTER (1951), was followed by a rapid succession of mall-type retail complexes. Three of these, ROOSEVELT FIELD CENTER, GREEN ACRES CENTER and MID-ISLAND PLAZA, opened over the course of a single year...1956. Two more followed soon after. WALT WHITMAN CENTER and SOUTH SHORE MALL were dedicated in 1962 and 1963, respectively.

The land on which Long Island's first shopping mall was built served as the Roosevelt Field airstrip. This was named in honor of Lieutenant Quentin Roosevelt (Teddy's son), who had been killed in World War I. The facility was the departure point for "Lucky Lindy's" historic transatlantic flight in 1927. A military airbase also operated there, that was decommissioned in June 1951.

A section of the property was used for the Roosevelt Raceway, an auto-racing track that was converted to harness racing in September 1940. The remainder of the airfield property would be devoted to the gargantuan ROOSEVELT FIELD CENTER.

Ground was broken, on April 26, 1955, at a 110-acre parcel located 24.5 miles east of Times Square. The site was situated in Nassau County's Town of Hempstead and was adjacent to the Village of Garden City. The future shopping facility was being developed by New York City's William Zeckendorf, under the auspices of Webb & Knapp. It was designed by Chinese architect Ieoh Ming Pei and Chicago's Skidmore, Owings & Merrill firm.

As originally constructed, the open-air complex encompassed approximately 902,900 leasable square feet. It was comprised of a main Mall Level and service basement, which included a small shopping concourse.

ROOSEVELT FIELD CENTER was officially dedicated August 29, 1956. Charter stores included Walgreen Drug, Buster Brown Shoes, Howard Clothes, The Corsetorium, Paree Millinery, Singer Sewing Center, Thom McAn Shoes, Ripley's, Buckner's Bridal and a Horn & Hardhart Restaurant.

There were two 5 & 10s; a (37,000 square foot) F.W. Woolworth and (37,000 square foot) S.S. Kresge. Moreover, the mall housed two supermarkets; a (30,000 square foot) Food Fair and (30,000 square foot) Grand Union. Service-type features included the Flight Room public auditorium and an outdoor ice skating rink (this completed in 1958).

A 3-level (343,000 square foot) Macy's was the sole anchor of the 1956 mall. A 3-level (240,300 square foot) Gimbels was added, which began business August 20, 1962. In order to be one up on its primary retail rival, Macy's had a fourth level added in 1963...so that their 461,000 square foot ROOSEVELT FIELD store would be substantially larger than that operated by Gimbels.

With this addition, the retail hub spanned approximately 1,261,200 leasable square feet and housed one hundred and thirteen stores and services. The Century's Roosevelt Field Theatre, a freestanding venue built at the northwest corner of the mall, showed its first feature on August 28, 1962. It was divided into a 3-plex in 1981 and an 8-plex in 1987.

Competing malls in the vicinity of ROOSEVELT FIELD included the aforementioned GREEN ACRES CENTER (1956) {7.4 miles southwest, in Nassau County} and MID-ISLAND PLAZA (1956) {4.6 miles northeast, in Nassau County}. In addition there was SUNRISE MALL (1973) {9.8 miles southeast, also in Nassau County}. 

New York City-based Corporate Property Investors had acquired ROOSEVELT FIELD CENTER in 1966. They embarked on a renovation to enclose the mall in April 1967, which was completed in June 1968. The shopping hub was known, henceforth, as ROOSEVELT FIELD MALL.

The complex was expanded further in the early 1970s. Alexander's 3-level (314,000 square foot) location opened for business October 15, 1971. J.C. Penney, with a 3-level (260,000 square foot) store, began business July 19, 1972. In 1974, a small, Tudor-style section, known as La Petite Mall, opened. This "mall within a mall" was installed in the existing southwest store block. It housed stores and services such as Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream, Hanan Yarn, The Cave Hair Salon and Sanrio.

Another enlargement of ROOSEVELT FIELD MALL was done in stages between 1991 and 1997. In April 1993, a partial Upper Level was completed, which had been built on top of the northern half of the mall. This new section included a 22-bay, zeppelin-motif Food Court. Among sixty new stores and services were J. Crew and Banana Republic.

Alexander's had been shuttered in February 1991. The store was gutted and remodeled into a New York City-based Abraham & Straus, which held its grand opening October 17, 1992. This store was in operation until April 30, 1995. New York City-based Bloomingdale's assumed the store space on November 2nd of the same year.

The second half of the 150 million dollar mall remodeling was completed in two stages. The Upper Level was extended over the mall's southern section. Two parking structures were also built; one replacing an existing garage on the mall's southeast corner.

The upstairs extension was officially dedicated in September 1996, with fifty stores added to the mall directory. These included FAO Schwarz, AX / Armani Exchange, BCBG, Kenneth Cole, Pottery Barn and Modell's Sporting Goods.

A fifth anchor department store was built as the final facet of the 1990s makeover. A 3-level (225,000 square foot) Nordstrom, added to the southeast corner of the complex, opened August 15, 1997. With its completion, the facility spanned approximately 2,228,000 leasable square feet. It was promoted as the nation's fifth-largest shopping mall.  In September 1998, the Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group acquired the assets of Corporate Property Investors, which included ROOSEVELT FIELD MALL.

Gimbels Roosevelt Field had shut down in August 1986 and was followed by a New Jersey-based Stern's, which was in operation between February 1987 and August 2001. After Stern's closed, the structure was divided three ways. Indianapolis-based Galyan's Trading Company renovated a 2-level (105,400 square foot) space and opened for business on October 17, 2003.

A 2-level (65,000 square foot) Bloomingdale's Furniture Gallery was installed in adjacent area. The old Gimbels basement was renovated into a (70,000 square foot) XSport Fitness, which was dedicated in September 2006. Meanwhile, the Galyan's store had been rebranded, by Pittsburgh-based Dick's Sporting Goods, in October 2004.

In September 2013, a comprehensive interior-exterior makeover got underway. In addition to giving the existing structure a thorough update, the 200 million dollar project included construction of a fourth parking garage, Dining District (which replaced the early 1990s-vintage Food Court) and new Southwest Wing. This would include a 2-level (105,400 square foot) Neiman Marcus and approximately 25,800 square feet of inline store space.

These components were dedicated in the following order; the parking garage in November 2014, Dining District in January 2015 and Southwest Wing / Neiman Marcus in February 2016. With all work completed, the shopping hub encompassed approximately 2,377,000 leasable square feet and housed two hundred and eighty-three stores and services under its roof.

Sources:

The New York Times
http://www.nydailynews.com
http://www.airfield-freeman.com
preservenet.cornell.edu/publications/Longstreth Branch Store.do
Nassau County, New York Tax Assessor website
www.cinematreasures.org
http://www.newsday.com
www.city-data.com/forum/long-island/47032-you-know-youre-long-island-when-106.html
http://gardencitypatch.com
https://libn.com (Long Island Business News)
https://www.highbeam.com
http://consumergrouch.com
New York City's Green Acres Center


The New York City-based arm of Gimbels built their second branch store at GREEN ACRES CENTER. Gimbels Valley Stream encompassed 274,000 square feet and opened for business in October 1956. 
Drawing from http://departmentstoremuseum.blogspot.com

We begin a photo tour of Gimbels Valley Stream with a broad view of the main sales floor. This snapshot, and the vintage photos that follow, show the store as it appeared in March 1957.
Photo from Library of Congress


Our first stop, Budget Dresses.
Photo from Library of Congress


Then on to Ladies Coats and Suits.
Photo from Library of Congress


Here we see the Juniors Shop.
Photo from Library of Congress


And Bridal Shop.
Photo from Library of Congress


In this view, we have the Millinery Department.
Photo from Library of Congress


The Women's Shoes department is seen here.
Photo from Library of Congress


Now we move on to Men's Furnishings.
Photo from Library of Congress


The Men's Cruise Wear Shop is nearby.
Photo from Library of Congress


Men's Shoes is not far away.
Photo from Library of Congress


A series of escalators whisk shoppers between the building's 4 levels.
Photo from Library of Congress