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A Helpful Hint...

On our website, you'll find illustrated histories and other ephemera
about America's very first regional shopping centers and malls...
to New York City's CROSS COUNTY CENTER...
and down to Dallas' BIG TOWN MALL.
Moreover, you'll find articles about malls
in every one of the 50 states.

We submit for your approval,

Our 496th mall induction!

Which was also the first mall in -or around- Dallas.

 A. Harris-Oak Cliff Center joins the archive.

Four MHoF articles 
provide a glimpse of
our retail heritage.

First, we have a nineteen-photo spread 
taken inside the new JOHN WANAMAKER store
All from May 1951.

Next, we have a twenty-photo HALLE'S collection, 
taken at Greater Cleveland's WESTGATE CENTER.
This photo tour dates back to March 1954.

A twenty-three-photo spread has been added,
depicting the brand new GIMBELS WESTCHESTER
at Yonkers, New York's CROSS COUNTY CENTER.  
These images are from September 1955.

Lastly, our twenty-photo tour
-at Long Island's GREEN ACRES CENTER-
shows the store as it appeared in March 1957.

Some may deride the contemporary American shopping mall as a shop till you drop, cathedral of conspicuous consumption; a manifestation of our society's affluenza epidemic. In many ways, such an assessment is accurate. However, this was not always the case. In the early days, the typical mall-type center was markedly different than the modern model.

In the 1950s and '60s, the shopping mall was an "everything in one place place." There would be one, or even two, 5 & 10-type stores, a drug store, supermarket, bowling alley, professional concourse of medical offices and even a church or chapel. Tenant mixes were geared more toward middle market stores, providing things that people actually needed. Also, fashion shows, pageants and public events were held regularly, making the early shopping mall a true community center.

A circa-1963 plan of Atlanta's LENOX SQUARE, which was one of the first major malls in the Southeast. In its original incarnation, it featured two large anchor department stores (Atlanta-based Rich's and Davison's, a Macy's subsidiary). Stores and services included an S.S. Kresge 5 & 10, S & S Cafeteria, bowling alley, Lenox Square Theatre and Colonial supermarket. There was even a space-age Gulf filling station in the mall's periphery. As they used to say..."It's All There At Lenox Square."

Trademarks of stores and services that were found in the typical mid-century shopping mall. The focus then was to provide a wide array of merchandisers under one roof. Tenants ranged from the upmarket "anchor" department store, fashion boutique or men's wear shop to the middle market 5 & 10-variety store, pharmacy, grocery or cafeteria.

In this snapshot, and the two that follow,  we see typical mid-century shopping mall tenants. F.W. Woolworth (a.k.a. Woolworth's) operated stores in several malls built in the 1950s, '60s and '70s, including this installation at Tampa's WEST SHORE PLAZA SHOPPING CITY.
Photo from Tropical Cards

The Cherry Hill Grill was an adjunct of the Woolworth 5 & 10 at New Jersey's CHERRY HILL CENTER. Cafeterias and snack bars were a standard mall fixture before fast food restaurants and centralized mall food courts put them out of business in the 1980s.
Photo from WYCO Products

CHERRY HILL CENTER included a Food Fair supermarket, which had an entrance on the air-conditioned shopping concourse. Some "mall" grocery stores would have only exterior entries, while others were freestanding structures built in the periphery of the shopping complex. 
Photo from

Back in the day -before we all became so jaded- a new shopping mall would open with much fanfare. It was not uncommon for a dedication ceremony to go on for days. Unusual and attention-grabbing stunts might be performed and celebrities would make appearances. Nowadays, a new shopping center tends to open with a big ho-hum...

By the late 20th century, the typical mall was being derided for its generic looks, sameness and predictability. A center in Maine would invariably have the same stores and fast food eateries as one in Southern California, Miami, Kansas City or Seattle. Moreover, the new-style "Anytown USA" mall would look pretty much the same no matter where it was located.

One last impression here...back in the mid-century years, the typical shopping mall was designed utilizing the latest trends in "ultra-modern" architecture. Mall photos from this era often show stunning, futuristic and unique designs. Unfortunately, such architecture -now referred to as "Mid-Century Modern"- has been all but obliterated by the numerous renovations and "face lifts" performed on older malls over the years.

A lot of the damage was done during the 1980s and '90s when newly-built and remodeled shopping malls became truly UGLY in appearance. The rush to embrace so-called "Post-modern" architecture created the generic "Anytown USA" mall described above. 

The saving grace is that this type of architecture -with its gaudy and glitzy, "faux fancy" look- is now deemed passe' and is being ripped out and replaced by some of the more attractive -and spartan- mall architecture of the 21st century. Of course, we still have the hokey-looking "old timey downtown" style of other new retail structures to contend with...

A contemporary view of Greater Pittsburgh's SOUTH HILLS VILLAGE. As has been the case with nearly every mid-20th century mall, the interior has undergone several renovations over the years. An unwritten law in retail states that any shopping mall must be physically updated at least every 10 years...else it will loose favor with the (fickle) buying public.
Photo from Wikipedia / Jim Henderson

Atlanta's LENOX SQUARE, in the here and now. Over the years, the mall has grown from a modest 800,000 square feet into a whopping 1,545,000! There are now over 240 tenants. Needless to say, today's complex has NO 5 & 10, supermarket or cafeteria. Nowadays, all that is "there" at Lenox Square is anything but middle-market. The present roster of toney tenants includes Louis Vuitton, Bloomingdale's, Williams-Sonoma, Cartier, Hermes and Restoration Hardware. 

A collection of logos from the typical "Grade A" shopping mall of the recent past. As its classification would imply, this type of shopping hub is populated by exclusive boutiques and stores catering to the more affluent shopper.

Barneys New York, a so-called "luxury department store," originated in Manhattan in 1923. Above, we have the chain's ill-fated NORTHPARK CENTER store, in Dallas, Texas. It opened, with much fanfare, in September 2006 and closed for good in April 2013. 
Photo from Wikipedia / "020808"

Bath & Body Works, based in New Albany, Ohio (a Columbus suburb), has been in business since 1990. This women's bath and beauty retailer has locations in many of America's Grade A malls. However, there are also several "Grade B" mall branches. The snapshot above was taken in Rapid City, South, Dakota's RUSHMORE MALL. 
Photo from Wikipedia / "Mr. Satterly"

The typical Grade B mall might have several of the stores depicted above, but it is not uncommon to see a few of these nameplates at a high-end Grade A mall.

The very first Sunglass Hut, a kiosk-type store, was located in Miami's DADELAND MALL and began business in 1971. Today, the chain, a division of Italy's Luxottica Group, operates stores around the world. The NATICK MALL location, outside of Boston, is seen above.
Photo from Wikipedia / John Phelan

The Finish Line chain originated, in 1976, with a franchised Athlete's Foot store in Downtown Indianapolis. In 1981, the first Finish Line locations were established. In the 2020s, this Indy-based retailer operated over 600 stores. The photo above shows the NORTHSHORE CENTER location, also outside of Boston.
Photo from Wikipedia / John Phelan 

Today, with all of the unwelcoming atmosphere created by so-called "codes of conduct" and camera-grabbing security guards, one might get the impression that they are only welcome in a mall for as long as the charge or debit card is in use. When the spending spree is over, one is -apparently- expected to make tracks. This is in opposition to the old-fashioned concept of a mall, where great lengths were taken to try and keep you in the place for as long as possible, whether you were buying anything or not.

During the 1970s and '80s, America was in a full-throttle shopping mall building boom. New retail square footage hit its peak position in 1985. However, between 1989 and 1993, shopping center construction starts dropped by seventy percent. By the late 1990s, the notorious "dead mall" syndrome had appeared.

There have been several explanations given for this phenomenon, where once-vibrant retail hubs become virtually vacant ghost towns devoid of tenants and shoppers. The most obvious reasons for the proliferation of moribund malls in the United States are the advent of televised home shopping channels, in 1982, and introduction of online retailing, in the 1990s. 

However, as I see it, the primary reason for many of the dead, dying -or redeveloped- malls is simply this...there were too many built in the United States during the 1970s and '80s. It doesn't take rocket science to figure out that a medium-sized American city such as Toledo, Ohio could only -realistically- support one large fully-enclosed shopping mall. FOUR opened in the metropolitan area between 1969 and 1980, so it was inevitable that some would eventually fail. Just one -FRANKLIN PARK MALL- remains in business today.

This shopping mall malaise, a hangover from the nation's overbuilding binge, has been repeated in over-malled cities and towns from coast to coast over the past two decades.

Along with all of the over development of the 1970s and '80s, a few other dead mall generators might be mentioned. There has been a precipitous drop in our buying power since 1970. The end result was that the typical American did not have as much disposable income as they did during the halcyon years of the nation's suburbanization and shopping mall development.

With less discretionary income, John Q. Public could no longer afford to shop at the typical mall as much, where prices for merchandise were higher due to "common area fees" levied on all tenants. These surcharges paid for mallway maintenance and heating and cooling of the areas. In the 1950s, '60s and early '70s, electric power was plentiful and cheap.

This changed drastically during the mid-1970s, when monthly power bills began to escalate (and never stopped!). This inevitably caused the prices for mall-bought merchandise to rise, while -at the same time- the purchasing power of the general public was shrinking. In essence, the underpinnings of the dead mall syndrome were being established, although they would not manifest themselves for several years.

After some 20 years of over development and market saturation, "Grade C" and "D" shopping malls in America were dead and dying. By the late 1990s, demolition crews -ripping down once-vibrant centers of commerce- were being seen more and more.
Photo from Mike Cohen

As mentioned, the standard American mall went through various changes during the 1980s, with a marked shift toward more upscale stores and services. As some malls began to decline in the 1990s, a new manifestation of retail was emerging. Known as the "lifestyle center," it first appeared in the spring of 1987, under the auspices of Greater Memphis' THE SHOPS OF SADDLE CREEK

The lifestyle center dispensed with the fully-enclosed, weather-protected ("perpetual springtime") mall concept that had been popularized during the 1960s and '70s. Lifestyle centers were open-air and fully upscale. The "huge shopping center in the middle of a sea of parking" model from the mid-20th century was now obsolete...or so it was told.

The "new & improved" lifestyle center often had a substantially smaller footprint than a standard mall and was configured so shoppers could (supposedly) park directly in front of a particular store.  Heaven help it if one had to actually walk any distance while shopping!

In the brave new -new millennium- world, nobody has the time to walk, peruse or people watch, as they would have done years before. Now it is rush, rush, rush! In other words, get in the store, buy whatever and hurry off to some other appointment or obligation, all the while driving and chatting (simultaneously) on a smart phone.

Due to its compact footprint and lack of a heated and cooled common area, the lifestyle center cost less to build and operate. It supposedly produced higher sales per-square-foot figures than the traditional mall...although one wouldn't be able to tell by the prices of the merchandise! 

A  site plan of Memphis' THE SHOPS OF SADDLE CREEK shows the typical layout of a lifestyle-type complex. Inline stores are small (in the 1,000 to 7,000 square foot range). The entire -three-structure- complex encompasses only 137,500 leasable square feet.

Minnesota's SHOPPES AT ARBOR LAKES lifestyler center typifies the genre with its lush landscaping, toney tenants and trendy architecture.
Photo from Wikipedia / "MgWiki"

In a nutshell, the quaint, "old timey downtown" lifestyle center was IN, while the gargantuan, "obsolete" shopping mall was OUT. The word "mall" even became something of a 4-letter word in segments of the retail industry. Throughout the industry, new lifestyle developments poured on the pretense with snazzy-sounding names, such as shopPES, centRE or pointE.

No, we didn't mess up and post a blank image, lol. Amidst all of the hooplah and hyperbole surrounding the lifestyle center fad, one aspect seems to be (purposely) ignored; mainly, that shoppers are out in the rain or any other inclement weather when going from store to store. Of course, at the standard "obsolete" shopping mall, this is not the case. We had a hunch and did several Google searches to try and find even ONE photo of a snowed-in -or rain-soaked- lifestyle center. There were none to be found, as represented by the non-photo above.

The evolution of the retail industry during the 1980s brought forth another new concept in shopping facilities; the "power center." 280 METRO CENTER, one of America's first, began business, in the San Mateo County suburbs of San Francisco, in 1986.

Like the lifestyle center, the power center was open-air. The big difference was that the power center was not filled with small, exclusive, boutique-type shoppes and bistros, but with large big box stores and smaller inline tenants.

In essence, a "power plaza" was a discount-oriented hodgepodge of retailers, usually surrounding a large parking area. The power center shopper could, and probably did, drive directly to the front of each store they wanted to shop at and would get in the car, and endure parking lot pandemonium, to drive directly to another store at the other end of the complex. Walking between destinations, as one would do in a conventional mall, was strictly out!

Stores in Greater San Francisco's 280 METRO CENTER surround its central parking area. In essence, the typical mall in a sea of parking was turned inside out. Big box-type stores in the complex encompassed between 13,000 and 30,000 square feet, with inline stores ranging in size from 2,000 to 7,000. 

A collection of logos for some of the best-known big box stores. All are still in business, except for Sports Authority, which shut down in August of 2016.

WESTGATE, a power center outside of Cleveland, was built from the remains of a demolished WESTGATE MALL. Stores in the 618,900 square foot "power plaza" were dedicated in 2007 and 2008.
Photo from

As it turns out, the retail industry's zeal to promote the lifestyle center as the "new & improved" thing, while dismissing the enclosed mall as an "old & rotten" dinosaur, proved a bit premature. In a May 5, 2011 write-up on the NATIONAL REAL ESTATE INVESTOR website, 

it was revealed that, during The Great Recession, the American shopping mall fared much better than would ever have been imagined just a few years ago. In fact, sales per square foot figures for the fully-enclosed, Grade A, destination-type mall surpassed those of the much ballyhooed lifestyle center!

Facts stated in this article could remind one of other premature obituaries of yore, such as Mark Twain's famous "The report of my death was an exaggeration" quotation. Obviously, those many dire predictions for the eminent demise of the mall as we know it were not much more than wishful thinking on the part of various lifestyle center developers.

The Covid-19 pandemic of the early 2020s resulted in malls from coast-to-coast being temporarily shut down. Some of those that were already on life support never resumed operation. Hence, many "Grade C" and "D" properties went under. The high-end, destination-type malls survived the scourge, confirming that these kind of malls are here to stay.

Since the mid-1990s, some have opined that all shopping malls in America are dead or dying. This half-fact has been repeated by the clueless news media, who -apparently- no longer do objective and investigative journalism...but just repeat, in verbatim, what comes over the wire service.

"Malls are dead" detractors say online shopping will eventually do in "brick & mortar" retail. However, a few pertinent facts are being overlooked. First, buying certain things online (such as music and movie downloads and electronics) can work out ok.

However, one cannot try on clothing or shoes, and can end up sending an item back a time or two to finally get the right one. Moreover, lots of Fashionista-type ladies savor the experience of shopping in an actual store. This is something that doesn't transfer over to buying stuff (that you cannot touch, feel or try on) on a computer or smart phone.

In summation, if every single shopping mall in America is dead or dying, why is it that... 

-Completed a 200 million dollar expansion in 2016-

-Also wrapped up a 200 million dollar renovation in 2016-

-Finished a renovation in the tune of 573 million dollars-

-Put the finishing touches on their 600 million dollar redo in 2020-

Drawings 1 & 2 from / Simon Property Group
Drawing 3 from / GGP, Inc.
Drawing 4 from / Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield

If brick and mortar malls are all dead or dying, why did so many mall owners do multi-million dollar renovations? The four properties mentioned are but a few examples of our nation's many thriving -and expanding- destination-type malls.

Retail Traffic website
US News & World Report "America's Most Endangered Malls"
Wikipedia "Home Shopping Network", "Online Retailing" and "Dot Com Bubble" articles


The graphics of various retail stores used in this article help illustrate a key moment in retail 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 the images 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.

Bradenton's Cortez Plaza

The Tampa Bay Area's first mall-type shopping hub was originally promoted with this logo.
Graphic from Eastern Shopping Centers, Incorporated

The 600-foot shopping concourse was covered by a series of concrete Hyperbolic Parabaloids. These "upside down umbrellas" provided some protection from inclement weather, but did not create an enclosed and air-conditioned space.  
Advert from Eastern Shopping Centers, Incorporated

The camera looks toward the east in this view of the mall's reflecting pool and Belk-Lindsey anchor store. This black & white photo, and those that follow, were taken in November 1959.
Photo from Library of Congress

Belk-Lindsey operated a 1-level, 40,000 square foot unit at CORTEZ PLAZA. Twenty-third in the Tampa-based chain, it was also the mall's largest store. 
Graphic from Belk-Lindsey Stores  

The camera's vantage point moves away from Belk-Lindsey in this snapshot. On the right is a building housing Walgreen Drug.
Photo from Library of Congress

In this vintage view, we peer toward the southwest. Stores along this section of the shopping concourse included the aforementioned Walgreens, as well as Ace Hardware, Mary Jane Shoes and Lerner Shops.
Photo from Library of Congreess

Michigan-based Kresge's opened their first Florida store at CORTEZ PLAZA. 708th in the chain, it carried several new product lines, including small appliances, power tools, lawn mowers, radios, small furniture and barbecue grills.
Graphic from the Kresge Company

The CORTEZ PLAZA Kresge's included a luncheonette; a standard fixture of a mid-20th century 5 & 10 store.
Advert from the Kresge Company

The original supermarket at CORTEZ PLAZA was operated by New Jersey's Grand Union chain. The store was short-lived. After only 9 months in business, it had been bought -and rebranded- by Publix.  
Advert from the Grand Union Company

Crossroads of the Suncoast. The first of four CORTEZ PLAZA plans dates to 1960. From today's jaded vantage point, it seems almost unbelievable that, in 1960, a 185,000 square foot shopping complex could have been promoted as "mammoth," or that it was the largest shopping center on the entire west coast of Florida.


BELK-LINDSEY (with Store For Homes) / PUBLIX supermarket / S.S. KRESGE 5 & 10 (with luncheonette) / WALGREEN DRUG (with Walgreen Grill) / Ace Hardware / Adventurers Cafeteria (outparcel) / Associates Discount & Loan Corporation / Burke's Shoe Repair / Camera's Incorporated / Carter's Family Shoe Center / Coach Butterfield Toy Store / Corn Cabin / Cortez Bakery / Cortez Lanes bowling alley (outparcel) / Cortez Plaza Barber Shop / Florida Casuals ladies' wear / Fremacs For Men & Boys / Gordon's Jewelers / Inter-City National Bank / Lerner Shops ladies' wear / Mary Jane Shoes / One Hour Martinizing / Rita's Beauty Shop / Stauffer Slenderizing Salon / The Cotton Shop ladies' wear / Walter S. Hardin Realty & Insurance / Wash-O-Mat