The Lost Malls of Los Angeles County

Serving as something akin to our nation's Shopping Mall Mother City, Los Angeles gave birth to the American notion of strings of suburbs and malls connected by a labyrinthine network of motor expressways. This ultra-modern model was copied by nearly every major metropolitan area in the USA.

In our LOST MALLS-LOS ANGELES COUNTY section we will cover ten of Los Angeles County's twelve failed mall-type centers. These are listed here using their original names.

*WHITTIER QUAD [1953]
*POMONA VALLEY CENTER [1955]
*LOS ALTOS CENTER [1955]
*WHITTIER DOWNS CENTER [1955]
*WHITTWOOD CENTER [1956]
*EASTLAND CENTER [1957]
*EL MONTE CENTER [1959]
*LA MIRADA CENTER [1959]
*FALLBROOK SQUARE [1963]
*HAWTHORNE PLAZA [1977]

There were also OLD TOWNE MALL [1973] -now TORRANCE PROMENADE- {in Torrance} and SANTE FE SPRINGS MALL [1985] -now GATEWAY PLAZA- {in unincorporated Los Angeles County}. Details on these two LOST MALLS are hard to come by. At least I can mention them here, in passing.

Los Angeles County, in itself, has had something like fifty shopping malls within its political limits since the first one opened in 1951. Keep in mind, this does not take into account malls that have been built in the surrounding counties of Orange, Ventura, Riverside and San Bernardino.


On the circa-1964 map above, Los Angeles County's LOST MALLS are indicated with gray squares. Other mall-type centers in existence at the time are shown with black squares. Our article's tenth LOST MALL, HAWTHORNE PLAZA, was not completed until 1977. Hence, it is not shown. Freeways indicated with broken lines were under construction at the time of this depiction.
Click on image for a larger view


The region's first motor expressway, known as the Arroyo Seco Parkway, opened to traffic between December 1938 and January 1941. It connected downtown Los Angeles with suburban Pasadena and was the first operational segment of the region's present-day five hundred and twenty-seven mile expressway grid. The City of the Angels experienced its first "freeway friendly" shopping mall in 1957. EASTLAND CENTER was built adjacent to "The 10" (Interstate 10-San Bernardino Freeway).

Modern rail transit was introduced to Los Angles with the initial 22.0 route mile Metro Blue Line, a light rail operation inaugurated in July 1990. The region's Metro Red Line, a heavy rail / subway transit operation, was dedicated -with 4.4 route miles- in January 1993.

The Metro system now operates with six color-coded lines; Red and Purple (heavy rail) and Blue, Green, Gold and Expo (light rail). Expansions were opened in 1995, 1996, 2000, 2003, 2012 and 2016. As of mid-2016, there were 105.8 route miles and ninety-two station stops on the transit train grid.

Two major shopping hubs are currently served by the Metro rail system; LONG BEACH CITY PLACE {in Long Beach} and HOLLYWOOD & HIGHLAND CENTER {in Hollywood (Los Angeles)}. Los Angeles' BALDWIN HILLS-CRENSHAW PLAZA will become accessible via trail transit in 2019.

With this said, we now present the LOST MALLS OF LOS ANGELES COUNTY.