South Santa Fe Drive / US 85 and West Hampden Avenue / US 285
Englewood, Colorado

Greater Denver's ninth shopping mall had a difficult beginning and was plagued by problems over most of its 30 year existence. The venue was originally envisaged, as a "new concept', Victorian-style shopping center, by Denver mall maven Gerri Von Frellick.

In August 1960, a building site south of the Denver City / County line (and near the city of Englewood) was selected. The wheeling and dealing that would be necessary in order to build the shopping center was put in motion. Von Frellick's proposal met with friction from various political entities and citizen's groups, all steadfastly opposed to the project. 5 years of bitterly-fought litigation followed, eventually being resolved in July 1965.

By this time, an alternate location for the prospective mall had been agreed upon, which was 8.6 miles south of Colorado's Capitol and 1.3 miles west of the aforementioned site. The newly-selected, 55 acre tract had been a landfill and was presently serving as a city park. Ground was broken for the "NEW ENGLEWOOD SHOPPING CENTER" in March 1966.

The fully-enclosed, Mid-Century Modern-style complex was designed by its developer, with additional work by James H. Johnson and other architects. It was built in an M-shaped configuration, with its four counterparts being the "Gold Mall", "Rose Mall", "Shamrock Mall" and "Cinder Alley". These converged upon a 2-level, center atrium area, or "Blue Mall". A dramatic, 20 foot fountain graced this 73,000 square foot court, which was ringed by a 120,000 square foot, professional office mezzanine.

The first phase of the 2-level, 1,350,000 square foot shopping center, now known as CINDERELLA CITY MALL, featured one hundred and seven inline stores. It was dedicated March 2, 1968. The auspicious event, hailed as an "Alice In Wonderland come true", was attended by a crowd of over three thousand.

A second grand opening gala, on July 25, 1968, heralded the opening of an additional thirty-five stores, for a grand total of one hundred and forty-two. The 50 million dollar CINDERELLA CITY was anchored by a 2-level (108,200 square foot), Denver-based Joslins, 2-level (111,400 square foot) Denver Dry Goods, 2-level (51,800 square foot), Denver-based Neusteters and 2-level (120,200 square foot) J.C. Penney.

There were also McDonald Fashions, Stuarts Ready-To-Wear For Ladies, Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream, Flagg Brothers Shoes, General Nutrition Center, Radio Shack, Randall's Formal Wear, Waldenbooks and an F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10. The single-screen, 600 seat, Cinderella City Cinema showed its first feature in 1968. The movie house was located at the mall's west end. It was twinned in the early 1970s and shuttered in 1979.

A routine inspection in December 1972 had revealed structural problems with the 2-level parking garage and J.C. Penney anchor store. It was possible that the ground of the site, previously a landfill, had shifted, causing cracks in the concrete supporting the parking deck and retail buildings above. Problem areas were braced with steel scaffolding and shoring sets, and the structural problems were not disclosed to the public.

The mall's original cinema was joined by a nearby drive-in venue in 1973. The Cinderella Twin Drive-in Theatre was located .25 of a mile west of CINDERELLA CITY, in the city of Sheridan.

Prime competitors of CINDERELLA CITY were SOUTHGLENN MALL (1974) {4.4 miles southeast, in Centennial} and SOUTHWEST PLAZA (1982) {5.7 miles southwest, in Jefferson County}.

A 23 million dollar renovation of CINDERELLA CITY began in 1983 and was completed in 1986. During this project, the Center Court / Blue Mall was altered. Its fountain was removed and columns given new surfaces. A Food Court was also installed in part of the lower level parking garage, which connected into the Shamrock Mall and Cinder Alley.

Moreover, a shuttered Neusteters and Cinema -on the west end- were torn down. These were replaced by a 3-level (127,000 square foot), Phoenix-based Broadway Southwest. The store, completed in 1985, was rebranded, as a Denver-based May D & F, in 1987 and Houston-based Foley's in 1993. In the interim, the old Denver Dry Goods, in the center of the mall, had closed in early 1987. It re-opened as a Montgomery Ward late in the year.

Unfortunately, the renovation and new anchor stores did not rejuvenate the mall, which, by the early 1990s, was encountering more and more vacant retail spaces. A third commercial competitor had also appeared on the scene. An enclosed mall at CHERRY CREEK CENTER {4.6 miles northeast, in Denver} was officially dedicated in August 1990.

The worsening structural problems at CINDERELLA CITY did not help the situation. Its anchor stores began closing. The first was Foley's, in January 1994, then J.C. Penney, in May. Joslins bailed out early in 1995. Ward's became the final tenant to shut its door, in December 1997.

On August 18, 1998, former Englewood mayor, Elmer Schwab (who had presided at the mall's grand opening 30 years before) was joined by a small group of onlookers as a wrecking ball began demolishing the shopping center.

A portion of the parking structure and Broadway Southwest / May D & F / Foley's store were worked into a new mixed-use project. Known as CITYCENTER ENGLEWOOD, it was a joint venture between the City Of Englewood, Denver-based Miller Development, Trammel Crow Residential and Houston-based Weingarten Realty Investors.

The CITYCENTER was officially dedicated in June of 2000. It eventually encompassed 300,000 square feet of retail, including Office Depot, Petco, Ross Dress For Less, Gart Sports and various restaurants. There were also 300,000 square feet of offices, four hundred and fifty apartment units and a Civic Center / Library complex, in the old Foley's. A 1-level (134,900 square foot) Wal-Mart opened for business on September 20, 2000.

In July 2000, the complex had become light rail transit-accessible, when revenue service began on Denver's 8.7 route mile, I-25 / Broadway-to-Mineral Avenue / Littleton LRT extension.

The Credit Where Due Department:

A million thanks go out to MallHistory webmaster Joshua Goldstein , and the Englewood, Colorado Public Library, who supplied just about all of the source material for this article. Without this assistance, said article would not have been possible.


www.mallhistorycom / Joshua Goldstein, webmaster
Cinderella City comment post by Paul
"Romanceme", a Colorado native "Cinderella City Mall/ Englewood City Center" / By Kurt P. Schweigert


Jonah N. said...

I wanted to ask about the picture of Cinder Alley. It looks completely different than the other MoA picture (the SIPPIN IN sign) so it must have been after the renovation (as the ceiling is different and there seems to be parquet). However, according to the floor plan's store list from xtsuburublazin, Cinder Alley is totally vacant (except 2 arcades). When was the picture taken, and are sure it is Cinder Alley?

The Curator said...


Your post got me to thinking....that black & white pic must not have been Cinder Alley. That concourse is described as having an "olde time London Streets" look...with black floor and lamp seen in the color photo I just reposted.

By the fashions on the people, I can date this color photo to the early 1970s. The other black and white photo was (apparently) taken in the late 1960s...I think that that photo is the Shamrock Mall.

Anywayz, thanks for the post.


kagami101 said...

I was in Cin City in 1995-1996 and it was all but a hollow shell. My mother-in-law told me about how it once had a ferris wheel and was THE MALL in Denver and it made me sad. It seems this mall has had a great allure to the locals like Eastwood in Birmingham did and it really hurt when it was gone.

My mother-in-law mentioned several reasons for the fall of Cin City including rising crime and people just plain hated the parking garage. Plus the renovation of Cherry Creek and the newer malls in the burbs really put the nails in the coffin.

The Curator said...


Why did Cinderella City go the way of the 8-track tape and wringer washing machine?

It probably had more to do with the "newer and better" phenomenon....SOUTHWEST PLAZA probably had a lot to do with it.

Let's face centers are conceived and built as "disposable", "use 'em a bit and throw 'em out" (or, in this case, run a bulldozer through 'em).

It's unfortunate that these disposable relics often feature historic architecture....and that we tend to get sentimental about them.

The powers that be are concerned ONLY with what is trendy and,

So much for a piece of our national's out-of-style and "obsolete", as they say.

Thanks for perusing and posting,

Anonymous said...

WOW!!! Reading this just brought back soooo many memories. I was assistant manager in the Better Dresses in Neusteters when they opened in Cinderella City.

The Curator said...


Thanks for perusing and posting.

CINDERELLA CITY must have been REALLY something back in those days.


Jonah Norason said...

The Curator,

The reason I think CinCity declined was the low ceilings and narrow corridors. The latter amount of skylight additions and open space would've let CINDERELLA CITY MALL be like the other malls of the country. What say you?

The Curator said...


I think the precarious way that CIN CITY was built (over uncompacted earth), which resulted in the soil shifting and causing structural problems, may have had a lot to do with the mall's demise.

As I understand it, there were scaffolds holding up the ceiling of the parking garage. There were also problems with the JC Penney building, as I recall.

People saw these scaffolds and might have been afraid to go in the place.

Also, the mall was multi-level...with two of the "malls within a mall" beneath another mall. There would be no way to brighten up an underground mall corridor.

Of course, in the '60s and '70s, a dark, cavernous, artificially lit mallway was THE thing. This, of course, quickly changed....with malls constructed in this manner becoming outdated-looking.

Perhaps the BIGGEST reason that all of these Mid-Mod malls bit the dust is that there were simply TOO DAMNED MANY of them built. They were destined for failure.

So....up until the economic meltdown of September 2008, there were umpteen plans to demall this one and reposition/renovate that one....which was going to result in -again- TOO MANY power centers and lifestyle venues.

I suppose that this major economic downtown will surely put the brakes on most (if not all of) the demallings that are not already underway.

We'll have to wait and see....


Jonah Norason said...

Wait, what?

"So....up until the economic meltdown of September 2008, there were umpteen plans to demall this one and reposition/renovate that one....which was going to result in -again- TOO MANY power centers and lifestyle venues."

...except for the fact that CINDERELLA CITY MALL was de-malled into a mixed-use (and by mixed-use, I don't mean BS...they added a library, condos, retail, etc.).

The reason why many demalling ventures are not materializing is because they are building new ones and expecting the "revitalized" ones will do just as well. I don't blame the economy...let's just face it...they overbuilt! And these "revitalizations" are just the same old big box selection, with nothing truly new. At the very least, an old mall can come alive with eclectic local stores.

Of course, the other thing was that the "basement corridors" weren't truly basement...they were just obscured by the parking deck, giving the appearance of a "basement level". If they ripped out the parking garage, they would be ground level with the mall corridors above...and if there were larger hallways in the first place...more openings below and bigger skylights...then it would be a success. So what do I think was the real cause of failure for CINDERELLA CITY MALL?

1. Unexpandable floorplan
2. Narrow hallways
3. Structural distress

That can't be fixed very easily...

The Curator said...


Yup...I think that the biggest reason the shopping mall became an endangered species is that too many were built in the '70s and '80s.

No economy -good or bad- could have sustained so many.

CINDERELLA CITY was simply too much mall for too little a space...hence the "M" shape layout, parking deck and double-decked "malls within a mall" deal.

They surely wouldn't have wanted to "open up" those lower mallways....being as how the place was having enough structural issues as it was.

This CIN CITY structural problem deal...and the scaffolding holding things up...reminded me of the early days of the DAYTON MALL (the mall that started it all for me...June 2008 archive).

In 1970 (the year the mall was grand-opened) a rumor circulated around SW Ohio that clairvoyant Jeane Dixon has predicted that the DAYTON MALL would collapse on such and such a day in 1970.

I was not at the shopping center on this day....but I recall that some crazy, thrill-seeking types went there, hoping to witness the Mezzanine Level coming down in front of Rike's, Chess King, Doktor's Pets and Cassano's Pizza King....

Of course, this never happened. I was astounded recently to read about some other early '70s mall (I forget which) which had a similar Jeane Dixon, mall falling down, prediction/urban legend that circulated around town.

Obviously, somebody made the whole thing up...but we all believed it was going to happen back then.

Such a naive time, hee hee.


Jonah Norason said...

I find it interesting that although it is a 1960s center, CINDERELLA CITY MALL did not have a grocery store from what I can tell. What kind of mall in the 1960s doesn't have a grocery store?

The Curator said...


Far as I know (and I don't know much).....CINDERELLA CITY did not have a supermaket either within the confines of the mall proper or as an outparcel.

Its mega-mall counterpart in Illinois (also opened in '68), YORKTOWN MALL, did have a Grand Union grocery in a peripheral strip center.

I went through the list of malls on here and picked out those that opened in 1968....

TRI-CITY (Phoenix) had an interior-accessed Basha's
SUNSHINE MALL (Clearwater) had an interior-accessed Pantry Pride
GATEWAY MALL (St. Pete) had an attached -but exterior-entranced- Publix
MONTGOMERY MALL (DC) did not have any supermarket.
TYSONS CORNER (DC) had an outparcel Giant Food
THE BOULEVARD (Las Vegas) did not have any supermarket
SOUTHCENTER (Seattle-Tacoma) had an interior-accessed Lucky Stores.

So, out of all these circa-'68 centers, only 2 did not have a grocery store.

Apparently, it was still common (as late as 1968) for a mall to have a supermarket...but, as we see (by cruising through articles for malls from the early 1970s), mall-connected grocery stores -all of a sudden- had become passe' by 1971 or so.

I vividly recall the Liberal supermarket that was prominently-located (right off of the grand, 2-level, main entrance) in the DAYTON MALL (the first mall I ever witnessed).

This was in 1969.

Dave said...

Just to clear up a few things, the original theater was a single screen, which was split somewhere near '74 or '75. I had an Evel Knievel action figure (read doll) and lost him there. I don't recall if it was split at that time, but it was shortly there-after. I can't remember any movies that I saw, vague memories, but...

As per the grocery store, there was a King Soopers just east on Floyd. There was also a Wyatt's Cafeteria next to the King Soopers.

The Curator said...


The article is now ammended...citing the single-screen (later twin) cinema.

Thanks for posting,

J.T. said...

The mall rumored to fall down was Cumberland Mall in Atlanta (built 1973). It was very large (for its time), outlandish, futuristic and bunkerlike with those dark creepy 70's styles, so I can see how someone might think that. I think it got started on how the mall was somehow built on soft soil, which if that case would be a problem in a major earthquake (liquefaction), but the mall is on top of a big hill on granite bedrock, so that seems a little strange.

The place was creepy and imposing to me as a kid, but beautiful at the same time. Of course, the only thing that ended up collapsing at Cumberland were the old Penney's and Davison's department a wrecking ball!

The Curator said...


Apparently, this "mall fall down" thing was an urban legend in many cities, back in the 1970s.

In my particular home town case....there was the DAYTON MALL. It was built in 1968 and 1969 and there were rumors going around that it had been cheaply constructed.

At the time, Jean Dixon was a well-known psychic/"see-ress", who had predicted several events. It was said that she "predicted" that the DAYTON MALL would collapse on such and such a day in 1970.

Well, this never happened. The mall is still standing in 2009.

I've heard this exact same "Jean Dixon prediction" tagged onto other malls of the it obviously was a kooky urban legend that circulated around back then...something akin to Elvis being spotted at a KMart well after his 1977 demise.

In the case of CINDERELLA CITY, such rumors were based in fact, what with the scaffolds that were installed to hold the thing up.

I had never heard this rumor about CUMBERLAND. It must not have been true...'cause, like DAYTON MALL, it's still standing.

Thanks so much for posting.


Captain Hook said...

Cinderella City was a Denver Institution. I worked at the Woolworth store there from 1982-83, which was really the end of the mall's heyday. Thank you for the photo of Cinder Alley, which was always a cool place, had a great "Budget" record store, and Spencer gifts. A lot of stores moved around over the years to different sections. That mall was great.

The Curator said...


Thanks for posting.

CINDERELLA CITY is one of the malls I would most like to go back in a time machine and visit....say in the summer of 1968.


Anonymous said...

Back in 1974, I meet and fell in love with Deb who worked at Spencer Gifts. I still love her today, even though we are not together. I miss her everyday, but she is happily married (at least, I hope she is).
Back then I worked at the Cinema; what a great time in history. Cin-City was the place. I remember many nights after work hanging out in the parking lot in the cold weather and seeing the Clock shine bright on top of the Bank building. I haven't been by Cin-City area since the early 80's. Next time I'm in Colorado, I plan to make a trip and see all the changes. Notice I didn't say improvements. I should drive by Abe Lincoln High School and Gunnison Street, just for fun.
Good times

The Curator said...


Thanks much for posting the Cinderella City mall memories.

I would imagine that if you were to go to the site today, you might not recognize the place. The mall is, for all intents and purposes gone (only a department store structure still exists...that wasn't even there in 1974).

Also, there is now a light rail line running by the site.

Have a great Fourth!

Paul said...

Let's face it; Cinderella City failed due to the changing demographic. That is what happened to a lot of malls across America (with the exception of Los Angeles). Most malls outside of LA have about a 30 year lifespan. LA/OC is the exception for the most part because of how overbuilt it is; the wealthy and upper middle class stay as there is nowhere else to build so there is not a lot of changing demographic. Denver was still very young; so new, nicer suburbs built and purchased by the newly successful Baby Boomers sprang up including Littleton and its new Southwest Plaza. The remaining demographic either did not care to shop at CinCity, couldn't afford it or other issues such as crime and shoplifting. They don't call it Englehood for nothing. That area is still rather blighted to this day. Southwest Plaza is now in its declining stages as that area has become rather blue collar and those who have money (Ken Caryl area) would rather get on the highway and drive up to Park Meadows. I just think its sad that the once grand Cinderella City has been replaced largely by a Walmart....

The Curator said...


Thanks for posting. Actually, LA did have a few "there goes the neighborhood" malls. The BROADWAY-CRENSHAW CENTER comes to mind. HAWTHORNE PLAZA might be another.

The number of such places in LA and Orange County is a lot lower than in other cities, tho.

Happy holidays

Paul said...

@ The Curator;

That is true about LA. I believe Hawthorne Plaza still has The Broadway sign hanging outside. With as expensive as land is out there, I am surprised that someone has not bulldozed HP over and built something new.

PS I take back what I said about Southwest Plaza. Was just there today and it is doing well. It will never compete against Park Meadows (aka The Devil) and it will never be like it was 1983-1996 but it is a good regional mall that does decent business.

The Curator said...


I'll bet the rotting hulk of HAWTHORNE PLAZA is still there because it would be VERY expensive to tear down.

Go Nordrike! said...

I know this has nothing to do with Cinderella City Mall but today 7-2-12 there was a shooting at a Century 16 Cinemas in Aurora, Colorado, the cinemas are an "At Mall Cinemas", not attached to the mall but as a free-standing building; the mall it's Town Center at Aurora (formerly Aurora Mall, opened in 1975), I know this mall won't make it to the Mall Hall Of Fame since it opened in 1975 (no longer mid century) but it's still a horrible tragedy, 12 killed, 59 injured, so please pray for the victims who lost their lifes!

The Curator said...

Go N,

Yes...we are were shocked, saddened and appalled by such a senseless act.

I was not aware that this heinous thing went down at the old AURORA MALL (now TOWN CENTER AT AURORA).

I did not read any accounts of the news event and I DO NOT watch any national or local news (I am an ostrich with its head buried in the sand & don't want to hear about all the bad stuff that's happening...ignorance is bliss).

I did, however, see some headlines on the internet.

Oh...not meaning to trivialize here.....but actually AURORA MALL could -technically- be included on this site. As I see it, the "mid-century years" extended between 1946 and 1979 (yes..I stretched the cut-off point to the end of the '70s)....

So a mall opened in 1975 would fit in (in fact, checking the trusty "DIRECTORY BY YEAR" here, I see that I have inducted 13 malls that opened for business in 1975).

As for AURORA is one that fell through the cracks. Of the two mid-cen malls in that city, I decided to include BUCKINGHAM SQUARE instead....

Thanks for posting....

Anonymous said...

I was asst manager at Stuart's early-mid 70's. CC was THE place to be, full of people and excitement at that time, never a dull moment. It is heartbreaking to see the photos of it's demise. It was a beautiful time in history.

The Curator said...

I sure wish I could have seen CIN CITY MALL in its heyday....