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Old 01-21-2014, 01:24 AM
Location: Melbourne, Australia
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I'm fascinated by old shopping malls and how they have changed (the design both inside and out), shops, features.etc over time. Many might not realise how old some shopping malls are because they've been renovated, remodelled, expanded over time...I still remember my local shopping centre and how different it looked, from the garish facade with bright colours, sunken gardens, more subdued dark colours and bird-cages. There were more independent 'mom and pop' type stores, and as a kid it was more exciting going to the mall, even if they were smaller than now. I also remember watching Batman Forever when the cinema here opened, and when the foodcourt opened.

Do you have any fond memories of going to malls in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s? What things do you miss/have you noticed have changed? A lot of malls these days sort of lack character and look all the same. Malls back in the day often looked pretty funky, as this fascinating (but now defunct) blog shows. Still tons of photos, comments and interesting reminiscences though...

Malls of America - Vintage photos of lost Shopping Malls of the '50s, '60s & '70s
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Old 01-21-2014, 02:05 AM
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Malls of America - Vintage photos of lost Shopping Malls of the '50s, '60s & '70s

Tacoma Mall still actually looks like that. That picture is from just outside the Bon Marche (now Macy's) the original store of the Tacoma Mall.

I remember a few things about the mall in my local town (SeaTac Mall in Federal Way, now the Commons). First, there were no food courts back in the day. The mall just had a few food places scattered throughout. I remember one called "Burger Ranch" which had a pretty cool western theme. I always wanted to go there but never did. There were more music and book stores in the malls back in the day and most malls had a store that sold organs and pianos. They were fancier (on the mallsofamerica site, check out the pictures of Southcenter Mall in Tukwilla, just south of Seattle, another mall I remember as a kid). At both Southcenter and Tacoma Malls, they had detached movie theaters that were super-fancy when they opened (the Southcenter's theater was round!) and the Tacoma Mall Bon Marche had a nightclub. I recall seeing either a Walgreen's or Rite Aid in the Tacoma Mall until just a few years ago and where the Tacoma Mall foodcourt is today was the site of a grocery store back in the day according to older people who remember it. Also, people tell me you could smoke in the mall gallery (not in the stores themselves, just out in the mall itself).

I don't know if the types of stores have changed all that much since I was a kid, although I remember (besides the organ/piano stores; bookstores; music stores; and addition of the food courts) that my local mall had a luggage store, a leather goods store (mostly jackets), and a travel agency. Other than that, it was, besides the anchor department stores, much like today, mostly smaller boutique stores and of course, a Radio Shack (and Spencer's was there too, bawdy gifts and blacklight posters! lol). I also think I recall that the manned mall informational kiosks also sold things like newspapers, cigarettes, aspirin and gum. Stores that sold electronics back then obviously didn't focus on phones and computers but on tvs, and hi-fi stereo equipment.

A type of Muzak seemed to be piped in as well. I remember that. Oh, and my mall had an arcade back in the day too! lol. I forgot about that place. Called The Goldmine. Had a cool entrance too.

Although the mall interiors have been modernized to where they're less fancy-looking (for lack of a better term) than they were back in the 60s and 70s, there's still enough left of the old malls to make things out (like the arches I linked to at Tacoma Mall).

What I notice most is that with the addition of food courts and other stores aimed at younger shoppers, the malls have largely gone from places that catered pretty much primarily to adult shoppers (although there's still plenty for adults at malls) to places aimed at teenagers and people with little kids (addition of play areas, build-a-bear workshops, etc). I think the video game place from when I was a kid was for parents to send their older kids to while they shopped in the mall.

Sorry, this was all a little disjointed.
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