Santa Monica Boulevard and Avenue Of The Stars
Los Angeles, California

In the late 1950s, Twentieth Century Fox Studios was having a run of unsuccessful motion pictures, partly brought about by the advent of commercial television. In order to raise capital, and keep the studio solvent, a plan was devised to develop a large portion of the Fox backlot as a real estate venture.

A proposal to build a "city within a city", envisaged by Welton Becket & Associates, was announced in 1957. Soon after, Fox embarked on the production of a motion picture adaptation of the story of Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile.

The picture began as a modestly-budgeted vehicle, but eventually snowballed into an incredibly elaborate, historical epic. Elizabeth Taylor was paid the enormous sum of one million dollars to work on the film, which was the highest sum ever awarded to a motion picture actress up to that time.

The project was plagued with set backs. "Liz's" health problems halted filming for months on end. Her eventual return necessitated moving the entire production from London to the milder climate of Rome, which resulted in the scraping, and reshooting, of all previously-finished footage.

Sets and costumes were done on the grandest scale imaginable. A gold-laden frock for Taylor cost one million dollars. Moreover, members of the cast insisted on the most opulent of accommodations. The budget increased manifold, with no end in sight. Fox freaked.

To save the financially-strapped studio, and create funds to finish the long-awaited cinematic spectacle, the plan to sell the 260 acre backlot was finalized. Alcoa, the Aluminum Company of America, purchased the property in 1961. 80 acres were leased back to Fox, with the remaining 180 eventually being developed as the futuristic "Century City".

Among the first of America's edge cities, the project became an auxiliary urban center for the region. Height restrictions on buildings in earthquake-prone Los Angeles had been lifted in 1957. The Century City development took advantage of this and featured some of the first skyscrapers ever built in the city.

An 18.7 acre site, located 13 miles west of center city Los Angles, contained outdoor movie sets such as an "Old New York Street" and "New England Square". The parcel was cleared and developed as an open-air shopping mall. Known as CENTURY SQUARE, the single level, cluster-type complex was built on top of a 2-level, subterranean parking garage.

Originally comprising seven retail structures and fifty-six inline store spaces, the center was anchored by a 3-level (222,000 square foot), Los Angeles-based The Broadway, which opened for business October 10, 1964.

Inline stores opened during 1965. These included Joseph Magnin, Silverwoods men's & boy's wear, Judy's ladies' wear, Prudential Savings &  Loan, Gallenkamp Shoes, Clifton's Cafeteria, the Century House Restaurant and a Mayfair Market grocery.

Shopping venues in the vicinity of CENTURY SQUARE included BULLOCK'S FASHION SQUARE [Sherman Oaks] (1962) {6.7 miles north, in Los Angeles}, FOX HILLS MALL (1975) {5 miles southeast, in Culver City} and BEVERLY CENTER (1982) {2.4 miles northeast, in Los Angeles}.

The first expansion of CENTURY SQUARE consisted of the addition of a new southeast store block structure and 3-level (138,000 square foot), Los Angeles-based Bullock's. This store opened for business September 9, 1976.

In the early 1980s, the mall's name was changed to CENTURY CITY CENTER. However, by this time, many locals were referring to the complex as the "Century City Mall". An 8 million dollar face lift got underway in March 1985 and was officially dedicated October 25 of the same year. During this project, a vacant Joseph Magnin was carved into ten inline store spaces.

A 25 million dollar renovation of the northwest corner of the mall was done during 1987. The American Multi-Cinema Century 14 multiplex was installed on a new upper level. It opened for business October 9, 1987. The Century City Marketplace, an indoor-outdoor food court, housed twenty-six fast food eateries and five sit-down restaurants. The culinary complex, built on the site of the old Century House Restaurant, opened November 19, 1987.

In the spring of 1996, Bullock's CENTURY CITY CENTER store was rebranded as a Macy's. The Broadway became a Bloomingdale's November 9 of the same year.

Australia-based Westfield Holdings (today's Westfield Corporation) purchased the mall, in two increments, between January and May 2002. They renamed it WESTFIELD SHOPPINGTOWN CENTURY CITY...shortening this to simply WESTFIELD CENTURY CITY in June 2005.

A 160 million dollar upgrade, dubbed "The Makeover of the Century", got underway in August 2003. The project was completed in two stages. The first consisted of two southwest corner additions. An upper level "Dining Terrace", housing seventeen restaurants, was completed in November 2005. The state-of-the-art AMC Century City 15 multiplex showed its first features December 12 of the same year.

Stage two repurposed the 1980s-vintage multiplex and food court, which were rebuilt into new retail spaces. The remodeling wrapped up in late 2006. WESTFIELD CENTURY CITY now encompassed 810,000 leasable square feet and contained two hundred and five stores and services.

By the Twenty-tens, Westfield was planning another expansion of their CENTURY CITY property. There was a great deal of community opposition, but the expansion plans were eventually approved by the City of Los Angeles.

The 1 billion dollar retrofit would add over 400,000 square feet of new retail and increase the center's car parking capacity to 4,700 autos. The circa-1963 Gateway West (1801 Avenue of the Stars) tower, which had been deemed a "potential historic resource" by city government, was not considered historic enough for preservation. It, and the circa-1966 Century Park West structure, were knocked down. Macy's closed in January 2016, but would be replaced by a newly-built store.

Much of the original mall was demolished, leaving the far western section, Bloomingdale's and subterranean parking garage intact. The shopping facility was rebuilt with 3 levels of retail stores, topped off by a 2-level, rooftop parking deck on the far east end of the complex. A new multilevel garage also replaced the Century Park West tower, in the southwest corner.

The revitalized WESTFIELD CENTURY CENTER was officially dedicated in three stages. Twenty-five stores, including a 2-level (155,000 square foot) Macy's, opened April 8, 2017. A 3-level (149,000 square foot) Nordstrom, and additional inline stores and restaurants, debuted on October 3, 2017. The final stage, comprised of Eataly, an Italian marketplace, restaurant and cooking school, was dedicated November 3, 2017.

New to the mall were stores such as Aritzia, Catimini, Cotton On, MAC Cosmetics, Swaroski, Travis Mathew, Maje and Zara. Level 3 included the exclusive Equinox health club and spa and the Eataly facility. WESTFIELD CENTURY CITY now encompassed 1,300,000 leasable square feet and housed two hundred and sixty stores and services.

On the horizon is a connection between the "Century City Mall" and Los Angeles' Metro subway system. Ground was broken in November 2014 for the first phase of the Metro Purple Line Extension to West Los Angeles.

The initial 3.9 route mile subway line will include three stations and extend between the existing Wilshire-Western stop and one at Wilshire-La Cienega ["see-in-uh-guh"]. Revenue service is scheduled to begin in 2023. A 2.6 route mile second phase will include two stations and connect future Wilshire-La Cienega and Century City-Constellation terminals, possibly by the year 2026.


The Los Angeles Times
"Elizabeth Taylor" article on Wikipedia
Los Angeles County, California Tax assessor website
Del E. Webb Corporation "Webb Spinner" / Sun City, Arizona Museum


The image from "Cleopatra" illustrates a key moment in the mall's history that is described in the article. The image is of lower resolution than the original motion picture poster (copies made from it will be of inferior quality). The image is not replaceable with a free-use or public-domain image. The image does not limit the copyright owners' rights to distribute the motion picture in any way. The image is being used for informational purposes only, and its use is not believed to detract from the original motion picture in any way.


The photograph and image from the Del E. Webb Corporation "Webb Spinner" / Sun City, Arizona Museum illustrate a key moment in the mall's history that is described in the article. The images are of  lower resolution than the originals (copies made would be of inferior quality). The images are not replaceable with free-use or public-domain images. The use of the images does not limit the copyright owners' rights to distribute them in any way. The images are being used for non-profit, informational purposes only and their use is not believed to detract from the original images in any way.