Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Shopping mall bird and monkey cages

Remember these? Many shopping malls in the '60s and '70s had a really fun tradition of housing indoor Aviaries (as well as monkey cages, fish tanks, and the like), so busy shoppers and rambunctious kids could take a break and watch the cute little animals do their things--which was generally to sit really still and stare back in total boredom. But hey, to us kids these were truly magical things, these mall cages! I know no trip to Universal City Mall in Warren, Michigan (my local "homebase" mall in the 1970's) was complete without a quick stop by the huge old bird cage near the main (West) entrance. I remember feeding the birds popcorn and stuff, too, when we had some.

Most animal cages are long-gone from today's malls, though I've heard that a few around the country still carry on the tradition. Good for them, I say!

Aviary in Cherry Hill Mall, in New Jersey, circa 1960's.

Thomas Mall monkey cage in the '60s. Phoenix Arizona.

Birds (or monkeys?) in Moorestown Mall, in New Jersey. 1960's

Bird cage in Walt Whitman Mall, in Huntington Station, New York. 1960's

Chris-Town Shopping Center bird cage court in 1964. A pop art masterpiece now!


Blogger Czeltic Girl said...

Aww, man. Monkeys! I'd have begged my mom to go to the mall when I was a kid if we had monkeys.

Great photos. Can't wait to see more!

Wed Jun 22, 06:58:00 PM  
Anonymous dooku said...

Dude, I think I'm tripping.

Wed Jun 22, 08:00:00 PM  
Blogger Keith said...

That means it's working, dooku! ;)

And thanks for the comments, Czeltic Girl, as well as the mention on your blog! I appreciate it and am glad you guys are digging on this stuff, too!

Thu Jun 23, 12:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Marsh said...

When I found the Moorestown Mall in the 80's it had a water chaannel running down the center of it with ducks swimming back and forth. Cherry Hill still has one of the best Pubs in the region.Booze and shopping,even dad will go to the mall.

Thu Jun 23, 01:32:00 AM  
Blogger Keith said...

LOL. Hey, whatever it takes, Marsh!

Thanks for the fun notes!

Thu Jun 23, 05:21:00 AM  
Blogger beOHbe said...

I'm sure Walt Whitman is proud to have had a shopping center named after him.

Thu Jun 23, 08:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Busby said...

Two of those malls, the Cherry Hill Mall and the Moorestown Mall, are actually only a few miles apart. The Cherry Hill Mall aviary (which was great) disappeared in the late 70s or early 80s, when they expanded the mall to build a food court and a new wing. It was located in front of what is now a Brooks Brothers store.

Not really a mall fact, but: on the road (Rte. 38) between the Cherry Hill Mall and the Moorestown Mall, there used to be a restaurant called the Hawaiian Cottage, whose front was shaped like a giant pineapple.

Thu Jun 23, 11:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Brian said...

I grew up in Warren Michigan also and remember going to see the birds at Universal Mall as well. The Hughs Hatcher Store at Eastland in Harper Woods, Michigan had a monkey cage within the store back in the 60's.

Thu Jun 23, 04:49:00 PM  
Blogger Keith said...

Beohbe: I'm sure you're right about Whitman! Didn't you ever hear what his original opening was for "O Captain! My Captain!"?...

"Oh Shopping Mall!, my Shopping Mall!..."

And thanks, Busby, for the additional notes there. Good stuff.

Thu Jun 23, 05:15:00 PM  
Blogger Keith said...


I'm obsessed with finding some old shots of Universal Mall (was actually called, Universal City Mall, back in the old days)! It's the one mall I just can't dig any old photos up of. I'd kill to see it again the way it looked in the '70s, with that huge, wonderfully cool and tacky space/galaxy mosaic on the facade! Been watching ebay dilligently now for years with no luck at all. It's become my Holy Grail mall.

Thu Jun 23, 05:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FYI, the Plymouth Meeting mall in suburban Philadelphia PA had a number of cages with exotic birds in them.
LOUD exotic birds.
Unfortunately in the early 70's there was a fire that took out most of the mall, and needless to say, roasted the birds.

Fri Jun 24, 08:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Ultravox said...

I remember the bird cages in the Soutdale mall in Minneapolis. That must have been in the 70's or so.

Nice site.

Fri Jun 24, 09:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Greg said...

When I was growing up in Greensburg, PA, Greengate Mall had a bird aviary (This was in the 70s). I wish I had a picture of it now!

Fri Jun 24, 09:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If there's one thing I want in a Mall, it's a monkey cage that smells like monkey poop.

Fri Jun 24, 01:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great blog site

Fri Jun 24, 03:32:00 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

I agree with dooku. What is that old saying ... "the family that shrooms and shops together, stays together," right?

Fri Jun 24, 03:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dennis said...
Christown Mall

I was too young for Tomas Mall and by the time we moved to Phoenix in the mid 70's Thomas Mall was pretty much a memory awaiting the developers wrecking ball.

But Christown I remember fondly. Although they had moved the bird cages out of the mall before the mid 70's Along came these great Sand Scupltures throughout the mall.

There was an underground lounge called the Janitor's Closet and all of the store spaces were being used. It also hosted many events on the weekends. Originally purchased from an old swedish farmer named chris who lived in a shack on a small plot of land behind the mall after it opened.

Now the mall's name has been changed to Spectrum, there are no weekend events. the surrounding area has become depressed and grafiti speckles the walls on the outside. Superstores like Walmoart and Costco have moved in to two locations forcing most of the smaller stores to move or close up. The Mall store areas are mostly closed at about 50% capacity. A lot of the windows of the older stores are paper lined or whited out. I've lived close to Christown.. ah hem.. Spectrum for about 25 years and slowly watched it fade from glory.


Fri Jun 24, 03:56:00 PM  
Blogger Keith said...

"If there's one thing I want in a Mall, it's a monkey cage that smells like monkey poop."

LOL. Well, for some reason, as a people, we didn't really mind it back then. To a man, monkey poop smell was tolerated in our shopping malls. What did we care? We just wanted to be able to shop for a while, then sit down and watch monkeys. We liked our monkeys.

And, Dennis (and everyone else), thanks for the great memories and notes!

Anyway, I'm sure I'll do another bird cage series down the road, so don't worry if you didn't see your favorite this time. :)

Sat Jun 25, 05:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Birds at Morristown mall, they were there until the early 80's along with ducks that lived in the ponds of the mall..

Did away with them in 84 or so with a fresh new "Miami Vice" look to the mall..

Sat Jun 25, 05:12:00 PM  
Blogger Keith said...

Yeah, that "Miami Vice" makeover is what happened to all the malls in the '80s. Yuck. Good description!

Sun Jun 26, 05:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A mall is really not a good environment for monkeys.

Fri Jul 01, 04:48:00 AM  
Blogger Keith said...

I agree! It never crossed my mind when I was a kid, but it sure sounds wacky (and kind of cruel) now. But, times were quite different back then, I guess.

Still, fun memories for kids anyway. Similar to the zoo, really.

Fri Jul 01, 05:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember the bird cage at the Cherry Hill Mall. Lasted until the mid to late eighties. Must have been what seemed like a thousand finches in that thing. I remember it being near the corner of the mall where the Strawbridge's entrance was (with the restaurant upstairs.)

Tue Jul 05, 01:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you looked up the Altamont Mall ing Altamont Florida?? It used to have small windows at the top of the food cort to allow birds to come in and out .

Fri Jul 08, 01:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Northeast Shopping Center in Philadelphia, Pa used to have an aviary until about the late '70s. I always thought it was unique until I saw this site.

Tue Aug 09, 12:43:00 AM  
Blogger Mitch Glaser said...

Good to see old pics of Phoenix malls! I remember Thomas Mall but as a previous commenter shared, it was dead by the mid-1980's and was demolished and replaced with a big box center a decade ago.

Chris-Town was a place I'd visit frequently as a kid. It was still very much alive in those days, but the bird cage was gone and the mall instead was full of the sand scupltures a previous commenter described. I remember the Woolworth store, which was huge.

Chris-Town is now Phoenix Spectrum and has mostly big box tenants. The Wards in this picture is now a Petsmart, which actually maintains an entrance into the malls.

Thanks for brining back the memories.

Fri Aug 12, 08:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Mich said...

In a suburb of Sacramento (Citrus Heights) there was a mall called - wait for it - Birdcage Walk. Shops, movie theater, bowling alley, and birds. By the late eighties the birds were gone. The bowling alley went by the mid-nineties and the theater became the infamous "dollar movies" (sadly, no more). The idea of exotic birds and a few canaries fluttering around a huge cage at the mall may seem bizarre and inhumane now, but for a five year old in 1977, it was *all that*.

Tue Aug 30, 03:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike Gilks said...

The bird cage at the Walt Whitman mall! I almost completely forgot about that, but as soon as i spotted it in your mall cage tribute, i knew just what it was! I use to love stopping there as a kid and i remember when i was a teenager in the 70's it sat vacant for years, which was kinda weird. We used to stand there smiling, pointing at invisible birds just to get a rise out of people. Shortly afterwards they began what turned out to be the first of many renovations,eventually leading to the zombified, sterile, consumer mecca that it is today... I get a headache just thinking about it. Also enjoyed the pic of the water fountain near the side entrance. You could hear that rush of water from way inside Macy's which was right in front of the fountain. Great memories...Thanks Keith!

Mon Jan 16, 01:25:00 PM  
Blogger bluesman said...

I grew up hanging at the Mall in Cherry Hill. Drinking beeers out at the "Rock". The "boardwalk" was the place to hangout and grabbing a slice at the Italian Pavillion. My friends and I ruled the mall early 70's to mid 70's. Great times, great mall, great place to grow up....

Sun Jul 09, 01:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thats really cruel that they kept monkeys in cages inside of malls!!
that makes me really sad.

Sun Sep 10, 05:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember staying in a mall for 8 hours at a time so it to me is not that cruel , look at all of the other monkeys that "live " in malls. Also known as mallrats!! :-)

Mon Sep 18, 04:01:00 PM  
Blogger dcdc said...

Wow, I had forgotten about the aviaries and duck ponds in the Cherry Hill and Moorestown Malls. Does anyone remember those animal sculptures we used to climb on at the Cherry Hill Mall, and the rows of lockers? I remember the Hawaiian Cottage, too. I used to call it The Hawaiian Pineapple.

Wed Dec 05, 02:09:00 PM  
Anonymous said...

Sorry, but no monkeys at the Moorestown Mall. Birds only. Plus the massive statue of an eagle at Wanamaker's. That was cool. Plus, the little river was great with ducks.

the bird cage at the Cherry Hill Mall was great though. That and the indoor playground nest to the birdcage. There were polished concrete dinosaur shaped pieces that you could climb over. And if you fell, you would land on the terrazzo floor.


Thu Apr 10, 08:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Steven Capsuto said...

In reply to banmos's comment:

I definitely remember small monkeys in a large cage at either Moorestown or Cherry Hill: at the time, one of them had monkeys and the other had birds, though I can't remember which was which.

Fri Sep 03, 10:27:00 PM  
Blogger Melanie Nowak said...

We had monkeys in my local mall - Smith Haven mall, Lake Grove, NY on Long Island. Wish I could fine an old pic. It was my favorite place in the mall as a kid!

Wed Aug 03, 04:58:00 PM  
Blogger Gail said...

My dad took me to the Moorestown Mall every week to see the monkeys!

Sat Aug 27, 03:36:00 AM  

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