Johnstown's Richland Mall

RICHLAND MALL logos; the first is  from 1974, the second from the early 1990s.
Graphics from

Flood City's first shopping mall was dedicated during the final months of 1974. The center encompassed 650,000 leasable square feet, with a retail roster of around ninety stores and services. It would have been among the last in the "Lower 48" to include a mallway-accessed supermarket

RICHLAND MALL was co-anchored by Johnstown-based Penn Traffic. With the RICHLAND location, the chain was operating three full-line department stores. This number had grown to six by the end of the 1970s. In 1982, the chain's department store business was sold to the parent company of Hess's department stores. The RICHLAND MALL Penn Traffic was rebranded as a Hess's soon after.
Graphic from the Penn Traffic Company

The shopping center's official mascot, Richie The Pook.
Graphic from

Interior views of RICHLAND MALL, taken during -and after- its 24 years in business.
Photos from "TheBubster6"

The southwest entry of (what had been) the Penn Traffic store. By the time of this photo, the abandoned building had also housed Hess's and The Bon Ton operations.
Photo from "TheBubster6"

The mall's west anchor, originally Sears, had morphed into a Hills discount mart by the time this photo was taken. It was rebranded by Ames in 1999 and closed for good in late 2001.
Photo from

Bad tidings had come to RICHLAND MALL in 1992...when the glitzy new GALLERIA (JOHNSTOWN) opened its doors. It snatched the RICHLAND Sears and -in general- put the hurt on the region's original shopping mall.
Photo from

The typical reaction to news of an impending newer and larger mall in the area is to was done with RICHLAND. The snatched Sears became a Hills discount mart. The mall proper was also given a thorough facelift. Unfortunately, these improvements could not stop the shopping hub's inevitable decline.

The RICHLAND MALL Main Entrance was remodeled as part of the "catching up with The Galleria" facelift.
Photo from "TheBubster6"

Kmart, an original 1974 anchor, was refashioned into a Big Kmart-format store in the early 1990s. The building had no exterior doors, hence the only way to enter or leave was via the mallway opening. The exterior doorways seen here comprised the mall's northeast entrance. The entry into Kmart was inside and down the hall.
Photo from "TheBubster6"

Alas, RICHLAND MALL bit the dust in 2003. The complex was replaced with, you guessed it, an open-air power plaza. Above we have an aerial depiction of today's RICHLAND TOWN CENTRE.
Photo from Cambria County, Pennsylvania
Elton Road and Theatre Drive
Cambria County (Richland Township), Pennsylvania

Ground was broken for Johnstown, Pennsylvania's first shopping mall on April 30, 1973. The single-level complex was built on 58.9 acres, 4.8 miles southeast of downtown Johnstown, on the site of the former Richland Drive-Inn (1949-1970). RICHLAND MALL was developed by James O'Rourke and James Streeter, under the auspices of Michigan-based Unimich Development and the Somerset Trust Company.

Anchoring the 650,000 square foot interior mall were a 1-level (83,400 square foot) Kmart and 1-level (81,000 square foot), Johnstown-based Penn Traffic. These stores held grand openings on October 17, 1974. The mall's third anchor, a 1-level (86,400 square foot) Sears, began business in November of the same year.

There were over ninety retail spaces in RICHLAND MALL, which featured a tropical sunken Garden Court at its center. Charter tenants included General Nutrition Center, Stride Rite Shoes, Thom McAn Shoes, Thrift Drug, Sweet William Restaurant and in-mall Duke & Dutchess Theatres (a twin venue) and Shop 'N Save supermarket.

Anchor alterations commenced when the six Penn-Traffic department stores were sold to the Johnstown-based Crown American Corporation, who also owned the Allentown-based Hess's chain. The RICHLAND MALL Penn Traffic was remodeled and rebranded as a Hess's in March 1982.

The mall was given a facelift renovation in 1989, which included the removal of its sunken Garden Court. This was filled in and replaced by a merry-go-round. New floors were also installed throughout the complex and its exterior refinished with stucco surfaces. Moreover, the original Duke & Dutchess twin cinema was replaced by the Richland Mall Cinemas, an 8-screen multiplex fitted into space previously occupied by the supermarket.

Commercial competition arrived with the completion of THE GALLERIA (JOHNSTOWN) {1.1 mile northeast, in Cambria County}. The new superregional center snatched the RICHLAND MALL Sears in November 1992.

This store space was filled by a Canton, Massachusetts-based Hills discount mart, which was rebranded, by Rocky Hill, Connecticut-based Ames, in 1999. Hess's had been rebranded in 1994; re-opening as a York, Pennsylvania-based The Bon Ton. This operation closed for good in January 1997. Ames shut down in October 2001.

Suffering from its run in with THE GALLERIA (JOHNSTOWN), RICHLAND had been in a state of decline since the mid-1990s. In 1998, the mall corridors were closed off, leaving only the hallway stretching between Kmart and the mall's northeast entrance open. The Ames store and cinema also remained in business, as they had exterior entries.

The Jupiter, Florida-based McGill Property Group came on the scene in the early 2000s. Kmart was evicted in 2003, in anticipation of a shiny-new Wal-Mart SuperCenter. The bulk of the mall was -then- demolished. Its cinema and outparcel Michaels (in the old Sears Auto Center) were left standing.

A 480,000 square foot power center, dubbed RICHLAND TOWN CENTRE, was erected, anchored by the aforementioned, a 1-level (203,600 square foot) Wal-Mart. The first inline stores opened in September 2004.

Michaels and the movie multiplex relocated into newly-built structures, with their old locations (in the old RICHLAND MALL structure) being bulldozed. Richland Mall Cinemas was now the Richland Cinemas (a 10-plex). Other RICHLAND TOWN CENTRE tenants included TJ Maxx 'N More, Ross Dress For Less, Bed Bath & Beyond and Circuit City. The final store grand opening was held in early 2006.

Sources: / Posts by Daniel Hull and Jeremy Durst
The Tribune Democrat
Comment post by "Eric"
Cambria County, Pennsylvania property tax assessor website
Harrisburg's Capital City Mall

The Main Entrance of the capital city center, which accesses its Specialty Wing. Today, this area houses DSW Shoe Warehouse, Forever 21 and Hollister stores.
Photo from (Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust)

This Keystone State mall was dedicated during 1974. It was located near the western shore of the Susquehanna, in the outlying reaches of Harrisburg. The single-level retail hub originally encompassed 632,200 leasable square feet.

CAPITAL CITY MALL, following its mid-'80s renovation. This was done as a competitive measure against nearby CAMP HILL CENTER, a circa-1959 strip complex rededicated as CAMP HILL MALL in September 1986. For a time, it put the hurt on CAPITAL CITY. However, by the mid-2000s, CAPITAL CITY had emerged victorious, leaving CAMP HILL being demalled in the dust.

The first Food Court at CAPITAL CITY, which was added in 1985. This photo, snapped by Labelscar's "Caldor", faces to the northeast, with Knobloch's Deli, Boardwalk Fries, Great Steak and Potato and McDonald's in view.
Photo from / "Caldor"

A second renovation of CAPITAL CITY MALL concluded in late 1995. Hess's was shuttered, expanded and re-opened as Hecht's in October. Ames was also shuttered, renovated and re-opened, as J.C. Penney, in November.

Logos of CAPITAL CITY MALL. The first dates from 2001, the second from 2004, and the third from 2014.
Graphics from (Internet Archive Wayback Machine) and

Two shots of the same store; the center anchor of the center. The first was taken during its 11-year tenure as Hecht's. The second displays the present-day nameplate, installed in February 2006.
Photo 1 from / "Caldor"
Photo 2 from (Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust)

CAPITAL CITY MALL 2006. The old Garden Grove Food Court, at the Main Entrance, had just been replaced by a larger culinary complex, in the northwest store block. This area had been a 6-screen cinema and three adjoining stores. The original restaurant row was -then- gutted and refashioned into a six store "Specialty Wing".

A shot of the east end of the main mallway. Back in the days, you would have been looking at a Murphy's Mart entrance and Rae & Derick Drug.
Photo from (Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust)

The mall's second Food Court was installed during a 2004-2006 renovation.
Photo from (Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust)
Hartzdale and Lower Allen Drives
Cumberland County (Lower Allen Township), Pennsylvania

Greater Harrisburg's first mall-type complex, COLONIAL PARK CENTER, was completed in August 1960. Fast-forwarding 14 years, we discover that the third shopping mall in the metro area was constructed on a 54.9 acre plot, located 3.6 miles southwest of the Pennsylvania State House.

CAPITAL CITY MALL, developed by the Johnstown-based Crown American Corporation, was dedicated in August 1974. It encompassed a single retail level, 632,200 leasable square feet and seventy-two stores and services.

The complex was originally anchored by a 1-level (101,400 square foot) Sears, 1-level (100,000 square foot), Harrisburg-based H.H. Bowman and 1-level (102,800 square foot), Mckeesport-based Murphy's Mart.

Charter tenants included York Steak House, Amity House Restaurant, Rea & Derrick (later Peoples) Drug, Radio Shack, Spencer Gifts and the exterior-accessed (but mall connected) Capital City Mall 6 Cinema.

Commercial competitors included the aforementioned COLONIAL PARK CENTER (1960) {7.8 miles northeast, in Lower Paxton Township (Dauphin County)}, HARRISBURG EAST MALL / HARRISBURG MALL (1969) {5.5 miles northeast, in Swatara Township (Dauphin County)} and CAMP HILL MALL, a circa-1959 strip center malled in 1986 {.6 miles north, in Lower Allen Township (Cumberland County)}.

The first anchor conversion at CAPITAL CITY MALL involved the rebranding of Bowman's, by Allentown-based Hess's, in 1979. Connecticut-based Ames completed a hostile takeover of the G.C. Murphy Company in April 1985. Murphy's Mart stores continued to be operated under their original name, but were eventually shuttered. The CAPITAL CITY MALL store re-opened, under an Ames nameplate, August 15, 1987.

Meanwhile, the mall was given its first physical expansion. The 9-bay, Garden Grove Food Court, adding 30,000 square feet, was dedicated in 1985. The second enlargement of the shopping venue consisted of the addition of 20,100 square feet to Hess's. The store closed as a facet of its remodeling. It re-opened, as an Arlington, Virginia-based Hecht's, October 2, 1995. Ames, shuttered months before, was also renovated. It became a J.C. Penney on November 8, 1995. Sears was renovated during 1999.

The Crown American Corporation had been split into two entities during 1993. The first, dubbed the Crown American Realty Trust, managed the corporate portfolio of twenty-eight shopping malls. Crown American Hotels was involved in the hospitality industry.

In November 2003, the realty division was sold to the Philadelphia-based Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT). They announced a mall makeover for their CAPITAL CITY property in November 2004.

The cinema, shuttered December 19 of the same year, would be renovated into a new 9-bay Food Court. A sit-down bistro, Garfield's Pub & Restaurant, would be included in the new culinary complex. Moreover, existing mall space would be thoroughly updated. Inline tenants, such as Spencer Gifts and FYE, would be relocated, with new Lady Foot Locker and Victoria's Secret stores brought into the mall.

In November 2005, the relocated Food Court came inline. The older Food Court, at the mall's Main Entrance, was gutted and refashioned into a Specialty Wing. New tenants Hollister Company, Wet Seal, Body Central and Forever 21 were joined by the mall's second sit-down restaurant, Davenport's Italian Oven. These businesses came inline in the spring of 2006. This happened in conjunction with the conversion of Hecht's into a Macy's, which was finalized February 1, 2006.

Today, the 682,300 square foot CAPITAL CITY MALL houses eighty-six store spaces, with nineteen kiosks. A (46,100 square foot) Toys R Us, added as a northeastern outparcel during the 1985 renovation, was shuttered in 2012. It was demolished, with a (49,000 square foot) Field & Stream retail store opening on its space October 16, 2015.


"Capital City Mall" article on Wikipedia
Comment post by Aaron (Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust)
Erie's Millcreek Mall

The northwestern PA shopping hub's original -circa-1975- trademark.
The umbrella motif, first devised in the early '60s, was used by early
interior malls to promote them as a haven from any kind of inclement

MILLCREEK MALL as it was configured at the time of its full completion, in 1976. It encompassed roughly 1,095,700 leasable square feet with five anchors and one hundred and ten inline stores. An urban legend has circulated for years making light of the fact that the mall structure resembles a pistol pointed at Downtown Erie.

Pittsburgh-based Kaufmann's opened their second shopping mall branch at the MILLCREEK complex. The store was dedicated in October 1975 and had 160,000 square feet of retail area. It was rebranded by Macy's in September 2006.
Photo from Erie County, Pennsylvania

Originally a Cleveland-based Halle Brothers Company (Halle's), this store had a stint as an Erie-based Dahlkemper's Catalog Showroom before re-opening as the Burlington Coat Factory seen here, in 1997. This store was shuttered in late 2012.
Photo from Erie County, Pennsylvania 

The north anchor of MILLCREEK MALL, J.C. Penney, came inline in October 1975. The building encompasses 148,200 square feet
Photo Erie County, Pennsylvania

Originally a Penney's Auto Center, the outparcel structure seen above was rebranded by Firestone when the Penney's chain sold off its auto repair division, in 1983.
Photo from Erie County, Pennsylvania 

The southeast anchor of the mall opened as a Sears in 1976 and still sports the same nameplate; albeit an updated version.
Photo from Erie County, Pennsylvania 

By 1986, MILLCREEK MALL proper had been supplemented by several peripheral structures. A Children's Palace opened in 1983, followed by a second cinema in 1986. Inside the mall, two anchors had been rebranded.

The Children's Palace building became a Warren, Pennsylvania-based Blair Outlet for a time before re-opening as the Erie Institute of Technology seen here.
Photo from Erie County, Pennsylvania 

The freestanding General Cinema Company Millcreek 6 Theatre opened for business in 1986. It was acquired, and rebranded, by Cinemark in 1994 and shuttered in October 2012.
Photo from Erie County, Pennsylvania 

MILLCREEK MALL in 1999. By this time, the south and southwest anchors had been rebranded a total of five times. A new strip plaza, the MILLCREEK MALL PAVILION, had just opened on land west of the mall proper.

The new PAVILION was anchored by an outparcel Hills, which was rebranded by Ames soon after it was completed. Ames shut down in 2002, with the store structure eventually re-opening as the All Seasons Marketplace flea market.
Photo from the Erie County, Pennsylvania tax assessor website

To keep from having to pay exorbitant "common area maintence" fees, McDonald's bolted from an in-mall location. The freestanding store seen here, an outparcel of the mall proper, came inline in 2007.
Photo from the Erie County, Pennsylvania tax assessor website

The mall and its many outparcels as they stood in 2009. The big news at this time was THE PROMENADE AT MILLCREEK MALL, a lifestyle like rebuild of the old Bazaar Court.

By 2013, the mall and many of its outparcels were being collectively promoted as the MILLCREEK MALL COMPLEX.
Graphic from

In a circa-2015 site plan of the MILLCREEK MALL COMPLEX, all appears to be going fairly well. A vacant anchor in the southwest corner (shown in medium gray) has been sectioned into eight inline store spaces. However, with the 2012 shuttering of the Millcreek 6 multiplex, the mall is without a cinematic venue for the first time in its history.
Peach Street / US 19 and Interchange Road
Erie County (Millcreek Township), Pennsylvania

The only regional-class shopping mall in Erie County, Pennsylvania was built on an 87.5 acre parcel, situated 3.4 miles southwest of center city Erie. MILLCREEK MALL, developed by Youngstown, Ohio's Cafaro Company, originally encompassed approximately 1,095,700 leasable square feet. Its nearest mall-type counterpart was MEADVILLE MALL {30.2 miles southwest, in Crawford County (Vernon Township)}, which had been completed in 1970.

Anchoring the single-level MILLCREEK MALL were a 2-level (86,800 square foot), Cleveland-based Halle's ["Hal-eez"], dedicated in January 1975. The center's 2-level (148,200 square foot) J.C. Penney held it's grand opening October 1, 1975. The other original anchor stores were a 2-level (160,000 square foot), Pittsburgh-based Kaufmann's, 2-level (143,600 square foot) Sears and 2-level (137,100 square foot), Erie-based Boston Store.

MILLCREEK MALL held its official dedication October 6, 1975, with new store openings stretching into the following year. Junior anchors were Ashtabula-based Carlisle's, a J.G. McCrory 5 & 10 and the in-mall Millcreek 3 Theatre. There was also a (91,800 square foot) retail annex in the northwest parking area.

Inline stores in the mall proper included Orange Julius, Hot Sam Pretzels, Florsheim Shoes, Spencer Gifts, Ciro's Supper Club, York Steakhouse, Karmelkorn, Hickory Farms of Ohio, CVS Drug, County Seat, Musicland and a branch of the Erie County Public Library.

Anchor store rebrandings commenced in July 1979, when The Boston Store became a Pittsburgh-based Joseph Horne Company. Horne's was acquired by Columbus, Ohio-based Lazarus in May 1994. Lazarus pulled out of MILLCREEK MALL March 14, 1998 and was replaced by a Dayton-based Elder-Beerman on September 11 of the same year. The final conversion of the old Boston Store structure transpired as a result of the October 2003 acquisition of Elder-Beerman by York, Pennsylvania-based The Bon Ton.

Halle's was the second store in the mall to change nameplates. The chain went out of business in 1982, with its MILLCREEK MALL location soon re-opening as an Erie-based Dahlkemper's Catalog Showroom. This lasted until 1993. On August 1, 1997, the vacant store re-opened as a Burlington Coat Factory. This store relocated away from the mall in the fall of 2012.

Carlisle's, shuttered in 1995, was renovated with a small addition. The expanded store space was occupied by a Myrtle Beach-based Waccamaw's HomePlace. HomePlace was shuttered April 1, 2001, eventually being divided between Berlin, New Jersey-based AC Moore Arts & Crafts and Port Washington, New York-based Steve & Barry's University Sportswear. The Steve & Barry's chain was liquidated in early 2009. The final nameplate change at MILLCREEK MALL involved the conversion of Kaufmann's to Macy's on September 8, 2006.

Peripheral structures had been added to the shopping center site during the 1980s. These included a (40,700 square foot) Children's Palace, built in 1983, and a second multiplex, the Millcreek 6 Theatre, completed in 1986. An additional strip center of stores was proposed by the Cafaro Company in 1989; this to occupy a 62 acre site west of the existing mall. Many hurdles were to be overcome before this addition would come to fruition.

After 10 years of litigation and negotiation, Cafaro was finally able to proceed with the construction of MILLCREEK MALL PAVILION. Ground was broken for the project in the fall of 1998, with stores coming inline during the following year. Canton, Massachusetts-based Hills opened an (85,300 square foot) outparcel store. This closed only months later, to re-open as a Rocky Hill, Connecticut-based Ames in July 1999. Stores in the PAVILION included Dick's Sporting Goods, Linens 'N Things, Old Navy, DSW Shoe Warehouse and Michaels.

Although MILLCREEK MALL, itself, had been given a facelift in 1996, by the late 2000s it was ready for another update. Cafaro announced a mall makeover in March 2008, which was to extend for 7 months. The original 3-screen cinema, shuttered March 20, 1997, had been renovated and retenanted by Albany-based FYE (For Your Entertainment) in November 2002. The store was reduced in size, with the surrendered area, and four adjoining retail spaces, being reworked into a 5-bay Food Court.

Common areas of the mall were refurbished with Italian porcelain floors, new ceiling treatments and skylights. Three mall entrances were remodeled, with the fourth being sealed off. The mall's Bazaar Court was gutted and reoriented with exterior-entranced storefronts, along with most of the existing space on the west-facing front of the mall. This area became an upscale PROMENADE, populated with various high-end boutiques and bistros. The renewed MILLCREEK MALL was dedicated November 14, 2008.

By 2013, the mall proper, its adjacent strip centers -and most of its outparcels- were being officially promoted as the MILLCREEK MALL COMPLEX. The mall proper, encompassing approximately 1,107,300 leasable square feet, housed one hundred and fifteen stores and services, with twelve kiosks.

MILLCREEK MALL is often cited as "the fourth largest shopping mall in the USA". However, its gross leasable area statistic includes several freestanding structures and outparcel strip shopping centers. Hence, its true GLA is substantially less than a true Number 4 contender, such as Syracuse, New York's DESTINY USA, which houses 2,250,000 leasable square feet under one roof.


"Millcreek Mall" article on Wikipedia
Erie County, Pennsylvania property tax assessor website
Syracuse's Shoppingtown

A rendering of Syracuse's first suburban shopping center, which held its official grand opening in March 1954. The center featured Walgreen Drug, a Woolworth 5 & dime, two supermarkets and a dry goods only J.C. Penney.
Photo from


J.C. PENNEY (dry goods-only) / F.W. WOOLWORTH (with luncheonette) / WALGREEN DRUG (with luncheonette) / Jonas Shops / Wilbur-Rogers Women's & Children's apparel / Grand Union supermarket / ACME supermarket / Endicott-Johnson Shoes / Fanny Farmer Candies / G.R. Kinney Shoes / Kearny-Goodyear Automotive / Alexander Grant Hardware / Harry Cook Dry Cleaning / Shoppingtown Shoe Service / Mason's Barber Shop / Addis Company / Shoppingtown Launderette / Shoppingtown Antiques / Dr. John P. Kavanaugh, Optometrist

A Syracuse-based Dey Brothers was the first bona fide anchor of the SHOPPINGTOWN complex. The store, added to the north end of the strip plaza, opened in 1962.
Drawing from

A physical layout of the original, SHOPPINGTOWN. The center started out -in March 1954- as the L-shaped plaza indicated in black. This was expanded northward in 1956-1957, with W.T. Grant, a few new inline stores, and the Kallet Shoppingtown Theatre. This addition is shown in dark gray. A 2-level (143,500 square foot), Syracuse-based Dey Brothers became the first bona fide anchor of the complex, in 1962.

The first of three cinematic venues that have operated at the retail complex over the past six decades. The Kallet Shoppingtown Theatre, seen here, showed its first feature in March 1957. The single-screen -1,009-seat- movie house was in operation until 1968.
Photo from / George E. Read

In the mid-1970s, the southern half of the SHOPPINGTOWN strip center was torn down. The remainder of the structure (in black) was incorporated into the fully-enclosed mall depicted here. Upon its official dedication, held in August 1975, the center housed 476,200 leasable square feet, with a retail roster of seventy-five stores and services.

A 1975 newspaper advert proclaiming the grand opening of the newly-malled SHOPPINGTOWN.
Ad from

SHOPPINGTOWN in the mid-1980s. Now encompassing 608,700 leasable square feet, the bi-level retail hub featured three major anchor stores. Syracuse's Chappell's had just opened a location in the mall's newly-extended South Wing. Rochester-based B. Forman had also come on board as a junior anchor.

A circa-1987 aerial of the mall. The outparcel Shoppingtown I, II, III & IV is visible in the lower right. It would be replaced by an in-mall multiplex in October 1997.
Photo from

A shot taken in the West Wing. Lechters Housewares, an '80s and '90s shopping mall staple, may be seen on the left.
Photo from /Mike Hepp

Another vintage view of the SHOPPINGTOWN interior.
Photo from /Mike Hepp