Johnstown's Richland Mall

RICHLAND MALL logos; the first is  from 1974, the second from 1989.
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.

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

Above and below are interior views of RICHLAND MALL; these taken during -and after- its 24 years in business. In this snapshot, we see The Richland Camera Shop.
Photo from "TheBubster6"

By the time of this photo, the mall had closed and was awaiting a wrecking ball renovation.
Photo from "TheBubster6"

The southwest entry of (what had been) Penn Traffic, which anchored the south end of RICHLAND MALL. The abandoned building seen here had also housed Hess's and The Bon Ton stores during its commercial lifetime.
Photo from "TheBubster6"

The west anchor, originally a Sears, had morphed into a Hills discount mart by the time of this snapshot. Hills was rebranded by Ames in 1999. That store closed for good in late 2001.
Photo from

Bad tidings came for RICHLAND MALL in 1992, when the shiny 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 in 1989. The snatched Sears became the aforementioned Hills discount mart. Unfortunately, these modifications could not stop the mall's inevitable decline.

The RICHLAND MALL Main Entrance was remodeled as part of the 1989 facelift.
Photo from "TheBubster6"

Kmart, an original 1974 anchor, was reconfigured as a Big Kmart in the early 1990s. The building had no exterior doors, hence the only way to access said store was via the mall concourse entry. 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 "new & improved" RICHLAND TOWN CENTRE.
Photo from Cambria County, Pennsylvania
Elton Road and Theatre Drive
Cambria County, Pennsylvania

Ground was broken for Greater Johnstown's first shopping mall on April 30, 1973. The single-level complex was built on 58.9 acres, located 4.8 miles southeast of downtown Johnstown. The site, in an unincorporated section of Cambria County known as Richland Township, had contained the Richland Drive-In Theater between 1949 and 1970.

RICHLAND MALL was developed by a joint venture of 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 department store. These 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. The main feature of the complex was a tropical Garden Court at the center of the center. Charter tenants included GNC, Stride Rite Shoes, Thom McAn Shoes, Thrift Drug a Sweet William Restaurant, Shop 'N Save supermarket and the twin-screen Duke & Duchess Theatres.

Anchor store conversions commenced in the early 1980s. 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. This project included the removal of the sunken Garden Court, which was filled in and replaced by a carousel. New floors were also installed throughout the complex and its exterior refinished with stucco surfaces.

Moreover, the original Duke & Duchess twin cinema was replaced by the Richland Mall Cinemas. This 8-screen multiplex occupied space previously filled by the Shop 'N Save supermarket.

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

The vacant anchor space was taken by a Canton, Massachusetts-based Hills discount mart. This store was rebranded, by Rocky Hill, Connecticut-based Ames, in 1999. Hess's had been rebranded, as a York, Pennsylvania-based The Bon Ton, in 1994.

By the mid-1990s, GALLERIA JOHNSTOWN was firmly established as the region's preeminent shopping center,. The older and smaller RICHLAND MALL was in a downward spiral. The Bon Ton closed in January 1997.

In 1998, mall corridors were closed off, leaving only the hallway stretching between Big Kmart and the adjacent northeast entrance open. The exterior-entranced Ames and multiplex cinema also remained in business.

Ames closed its doors for good in October 2001. Soon after, Jupiter, Florida-based MPG Development came on the scene. They evicted Big Kmart in 2003. The bulk of the mall was then demolished. Its cinema and outparcel Michaels (in the old Sears Auto Center structure) were temporarily left standing.

A 490,000 square foot power plaza, known as RICHLAND TOWN CENTRE, was built. Anchored by a 1-level (203,600 square foot) Wal-Mart, its stores opened between late 2004 and early 2006. Michaels and the movie multiplex relocated into newly-built structures, with their old locations being bulldozed.

Richland Mall Cinemas was now the Richland Cinemas, a 10-screen venue. Other RICHLAND TOWN CENTRE tenants included Ross Dress For Less, Petco, Panera Bread, Bed Bath & Beyond and Circuit City.

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, 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 a 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

Above and below are two views of the same CAPITAL CITY MALL store. This shot was snapped during its 11-year tenure as a Hecht's.
Photo from / "Caldor"

This image displays the store's present-day nameplate, installed in February 2006.
Photo from (Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust)

CAPITAL CITY MALL, circa 2006. The old Garden Grove Food Court, at the Main Entrance, has been replaced by a larger culinary complex, in the northwest store block. This area had been a 6-screen cinema and three adjoining stores. With these modifications completed, the original food court area was gutted and reconfigured as a six store "Specialty Wing".

A snapshot of the east end of the CAPITAL CITY mallway. Back in the days, you would have been looking at a Murphy's Mart entrance and Rae & Derick Drug store. The J.C. Penney seen here has operated at the shopping hub since November 1995.
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)

Sears, the mall's only remaining original anchor store, closed its doors for good in February 2017. Within weeks, a wrecking ball was knocking down the vacant structure. Dick's Sporting Goods built a new store, which held its dedication in late 2017.
Photo from Wikipedia / Mike Mozart 
Hartzdale and Lower Allen Drives
Cumberland County, Pennsylvania

CAPITAL CITY MALL was the eleventh shopping facility developed by the Johnstown-based Crown American Corporation. The complex was built on a 54.9 acre plot, located 3.6 miles southwest of the Pennsylvania State House. The mall site was situated in the Camp Hill Borough of Cumberland County.

Comprised of a single level of retail, CAPITAL CITY MALL was officially dedicated in August 1974. The fully-enclosed facility encompassed 632,200 leasable square feet and contained seventy-five stores and services.

The original anchors were 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 stores included York Steak House, Amity House Restaurant, Rea & Derrick Drug, Radio Shack, Spencer Gifts and exterior-accessed Capital City Mall 6 Cinema.

Commercial competitors included COLONIAL PARK CENTER (1960) {7.8 miles northeast, in Dauphin County}, HARRISBURG EAST MALL (1969) {5.5 miles northeast, also in Dauphin County} and CAMP HILL MALL {.6 miles north, in Cumberland County}, which was a circa-1959 strip center that was renovated into an enclosed mall in 1986.

The first anchor rebranding at CAPITAL CITY MALL involved the Bowman's store, which had closed in 1977. It re-opened, as an 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 to the front entrance area, was dedicated in 1986.

The second enlargement of the shopping venue consisted of the addition of 20,000 square feet to Hess's. This store had closed in anticipation of its renovation. It re-opened, as 1-level (120,000 square foot) Hecht's, October 2, 1995. Ames, shuttered months before, was also renovated. It became a J.C. Penney on November 8, 1995. Sears 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 was dedicated. The older culinary complex, 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 opened in the spring of 2006. This happened in conjunction with the conversion of Hecht's into a Macy's, which was finalized February 1 of the same year.

At the turn of the century, CAPITAL CITY MALL encompassed 682,300 leasable square feet and housed eighty-six store spaces, with nineteen kiosks. A freestanding (46,100 square foot) Toys R Us was shuttered in 2012. It was demolished, with a (49,000 square foot) Field & Stream retail store opening on its space October 16, 2015.

In February 2017, the mall's Sears, a charter 1974 tenant, was shuttered. The vacant building was demolished in March and replaced by a new Dick's Sporting Goods store. It held its official grand opening in late 2017.


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

The original shopping hub's mid-1970s trademark. The umbrella motif, first devised in the early '60s, was often used by enclosed malls to promote them as a haven from any kind of inclement weather.

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 toward Downtown Erie.

Pittsburgh-based Kaufmann's opened their second shopping mall branch at MILLCREEK. The store was dedicated in October 1975 and had 160,000 square feet. It was rebranded as a 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 

J.C. Penney, anchoring the north end of MILLCREEK MALL, opened in October 1975. The building encompasses 148,200 square feet
Photo Erie County, Pennsylvania

Originally a Penney's Auto Center, the outparcel structure seen here 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 facility opened as a Sears in 1974. It operated as such for 42 years, but closed for good in late 2016.
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 General Cinema Corporation Millcreek 6 Theatre opened for business in 1986. The freestanding venue was acquired, and rebranded, by Cinemark in the mid-1990s and was 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 a freestanding Hills, which was rebranded by Ames soon after its completion. Ames shut down in 2002, with the store structure eventually re-opening as the All Seasons Marketplace flea market.
Photo from Erie County, Pennsylvania 

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 complex, served its first Happy Meal in 2007.
Photo from Erie County, Pennsylvania

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 on the northwest corner of the mall proper.

A renovation done between March and November 2008 rebuilt much of the mall's interior and exterior. An area on the south side of Macy's became a Food Court. A dramatic entrance now provided access to the culinary complex from the northeast parking area.
Photo from (The Cafaro Company)  

In this interior view, we see the new Food Court. The 6-bay facility included Fuddruckers, Little Tokyo, China Max, Dairy Queen-Orange Julius, Dunkin' Donuts-Baskin Robbins and Subway.
Photo from (The Cafaro Company)  

A snapshot of the Southeast Court area at MILLCREEK MALL. The photo is now dated, as Sears pulled up stakes and left the shopping hub. Today, one would see a Boscov's nameplate on the anchor store.
Photo from (The Cafaro Company)  

Above, we see the PROMENADE AT MILLCREEK MALL and its Kirkland's home decor store. The placement of the Macy's nameplate might seem a bit perplexing. The store is actually located on the opposite side of the mall. The doorways seen here comprise a Northwest Mall Entrance.
Photo from (The Cafaro Company)  

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

In a circa-2018 plan, we see the latest modifications. After Burlington Coat Factory's departure, in late 2012, its space was rebuilt into a new wing (indicated in dark gray). It housed eight tenants, with two of these being Mad Mex and Primanti Brothers restaurants. Following Sears' 2016 shuttering, its space was expanded and retenanted by Boscov's.
Peach Street / US 19 and Interchange Road
Erie County, Pennsylvania

The first -and only- regional shopping mall in Erie County, Pennsylvania was built on an 87.5 acre parcel, located 3.4 miles southwest of center city Erie. The site was in an unincorporated section of Erie County known as Millcreek Township.

The single-level, fully-enclosed MILLCREEK MALL was developed by Youngstown, Ohio's Cafaro Company. The original complex encompassed approximately 1,095,700 leasable square feet and featured five anchor stores. The first to open for business were a 2-level (125,000 square foot) Sears and 2-level (137,100 square foot), Erie-based Boston Store. These were in operation by late 1974.

A 2-level (86,800 square foot), Cleveland-based Halle's was dedicated in January 1975. The mall's 2-level (160,000 square foot), Pittsburgh-based Kaufmann's made its debut September 9, 1975, followed by a 2-level (148,200 square foot) J.C. Penney, which held it's grand opening October 1 of the same year.

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

Charter inline stores 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.

The nearest mall-type counterpart was MEADVILLE MALL {30.2 miles southwest, in Crawford County}, which had been completed in 1970.

A dizzying succession of anchor store closings, openings and rebrandings commenced at MILLCREEK MALL in July 1979. The Boston Store morphed into a Pittsburgh-based Joseph Horne Company. Horne's was rebranded by Columbus-based Lazarus in May 1994.

Lazarus closed March 14, 1998 and was replaced by a Dayton-based Elder-Beerman on September 11 of the same year. Elder-Beerman was superceded by a York, Pennsylvania-based The Bon Ton in October 2003.

Halle's was the second store in the mall to change nameplates. The chain folded in 1982, with its MILLCREEK MALL location re-opening as an Erie-based Dahlkemper's Catalog Showroom. This lasted until 1993.

On August 1, 1997, Burlington Coat Factory assumed the space, but moved out of the mall in the fall of 2012. The vacant anchor was reconfigured as eight inline stores, with a new southwest mall entrance created.

Meanwhile, Carlisle's space, vacated in 1995, was renovated with a small addition. The area was occupied by a Myrtle Beach-based Waccamaw's HomePlace. This was shuttered April 1, 2001 and divided between a New Jersey-based AC Moore Arts & Crafts and New York State-based Steve & Barry's University Sportswear. The Steve & Barry's chain was liquidated in early 2009. AC Moore expanded into its space. Kaufmann's had been converted into a Macy's on September 8, 2006.

Peripheral structures were added to the shopping center site during the 1980s. These included Children's Palace, built in 1983, and a second multiplex, the Millcreek 6 Theatre, which was 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. Stores opened in 1999. These included Dick's Sporting Goods, Linens 'N Things, Old Navy, DSW and Michaels. Canton, Massachusetts-based Hills dedicated an (85,300 square foot) freestanding store. This closed and re-opened, as a Rocky Hill, Connecticut-based Ames, in July 1999.

Although MILLCREEK MALL 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 replaced by Albany-based FYE (For Your Entertainment) in November 2002. Adjacent area was reworked into a 5-bay Food Court. Moreover, common areas were refurbished with Italian porcelain floors, new ceiling treatments and skylights. Three mall entrances were remodeled, with a 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 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.

Sears, a 1974 charter anchor, was shuttered in December 2016. In January, work began on a renovation of the vacant building. It was expanded to 151,000 square feet and re-opened, as a Reading-based Boscov's, in October 2017. With this addition, MILLCREEK MALL proper housed approximately 1,133,300 leasable square foot under its roof. There were one hundred and fifteen stores and services, with twelve kiosk retailers.


"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. 
Photo from


J.C. PENNEY / F.W. WOOLWORTH 5 & 10 (with luncheonette) / WALGREEN DRUG (with luncheonette) / ACME supermarket / GRAND UNION supermarket / Addis Company / Alexander Grant Hardware / Endicott-Johnson Shoes / Fanny Farmer Candies / G.R. Kinney Shoes / Harry Cook Dry Cleaning / Kearny-Goodyear Automotive / Dr. John P. Kavanaugh, Optometrist / Jonas Shops / Mason's Barber Shop / Shoppingtown Antiques /  Shoppingtown Launderette / Shoppingtown Shoe Service / Wilbur-Rogers Women's & Children's apparel 

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 (shown in dark gray). This enlargement added W.T. Grant, several inline stores, and the Kallet Shoppingtown Theatre.

Here we see the first of three cinematic venues that have operated at the shopping facility over the past 6 decades. The Kallet Shoppingtown Theatre showed its first feature in March 1957. The single-screen movie house would be shuttered in December 1968, when it was replaced by the freestanding Kallet Shoppingtown Theatre I & II.  
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.