Sunday, August 14, 2005

NorthPark Center

Dallas, Texas - 1960's

Man, there's beauty in that sparseness. Does look sort of quiet and lonely, though, doesn't it? But I like it. Very peaceful and reflective.

NorthPark today!

And in certain areas anyway, this mall looks relatively (and surprisingly) unchanged. Just look at the photo above and compare it to the same shot in the old postcard at the top--not much changed there! I love it.

And this is one of the few malls I've seen that actually has a great website, with an apparent appreciation for their own history (visit their "NorthPark Experience" section). Way to go, NorthPark! Judging by the photos on their site, and the overall vibe there, it still looks like a cool mall. Can anyone report on what it's actually like today?


Blogger Chris said...

I know people's nostalgia and fondness for these malls doesn't translate to profits for the owners and retailers, so it is cool this mall has a history section at the webpage.

Sun Aug 14, 12:01:00 PM  
Anonymous said...

Oh man, I'm fairly certain this is the mall which bored my then 12 year old self to tears in the early 80's. No record store, no movie theather, no food court...not even a bookstore! It was all fancy schmancy clothes.

Sun Aug 14, 01:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's still going strong, and is presently undergoing an expansion, where they will be adding a 24-screen movie theater. Bleh. (I hate the multiplexes.) They are making a great effort at preserving/extending the architectural look of the expanded parts.

The mall is situated in the North Dallas/Highland Park/SMU area. Its clientele is the hoity-toity of Dallas -- both the old money and "$30K millionaires" cliche. I guess you have to live or have lived in Dallas to fully understand what I'm saying. :)

Sun Aug 14, 01:58:00 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Not really a comment on this particular entry, just wanted to point out that I feel like I've discovered a long-lost friend while perusing through your blogs. We appear to have the same affinity for all things “nostalgic” and “retro”. My site is an amalgamation of all things that garner my interest. So it basically just reflects my current mood or project or interest. Anyway, love what you're doing, keep it up. And check in with me sometime, if you feel like it.

Sun Aug 14, 10:42:00 PM  
Blogger Steven Swain said...

One of the first malls I knew by name when I was in elementary school I learned about in a '60s era modern art book. The mall was NorthPark Center and it was a gleaming white beacon of modernism. I remember thinking it was one of the coolest buildings I'd ever seen.

I've never been to NorthPark, or Dallas for that matter, but I always wanted to visit this place that seemed to me like the ultimate expression of "real' modern architecture in a retail concept.

I’m an architect, and I’d like to think my exposure to good design on the outskirts of Dallas bolstered my decision to take the career path I chose.

I always assumed that NorthPark had been changed from its original design, as malls often are. I was relieved to find out by visiting their website (and sseing your posted photo) that things have only changed there in the gross square footage of the building. It’s still NorthPark, and the retail and design worlds are better for it.

Mon Aug 15, 04:21:00 AM  
Blogger paisley said...

still fancy schmancy clothes.. but they have a p.f. changs and lots of stores... still somewhat boring but not a bad mall...

Mon Aug 15, 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger kay said...

It's going through an expansion with a movie theater and a Nordstrom's. It's still pretty much the same and they actually still bring back the "grumpy scrooge" puppet show at christmas. It also has a huge fountain that remains, I'm guessing it shot up around 20 ft high or so. I'll see if I can get some pictures to you.

Mon Aug 15, 01:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is one of the oldest if not the first indoor shopping mall ever build in the world. Not much has change to the over all look inside and out since early 60's. Also this was the first mall that Neman-Marcus moved into.

Also the first highway clover leaf exchange was build in front of Northpark mall too. The clover leaf exchange is long gone now it is a complex of ramps to get on and off of US 75 and Texas Loop 12. To true Dallasites the roads are known as Northwest Hwy. and Central Expwy.

Tue Aug 16, 05:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've lived almost all my 40 years in Dallas, so I remember NorthPark as "the" mall from my childhood (then, a little later, Valley View when it was built up to more than just a Sears). I really love the way they've managed to keep it all clean, polished, and fresh without having to tear it apart. I can go there today and see kids trying to run up the sloped-sided planters and grab the top just like I did when I was little. The wonderful old fountain, the duck/turtle (at in the Winter, penguin) pond and the rest of the original decor is still plesant without being in-your-face flashy. I had more fun as a child with these things than I could ever imagine having on the plastic playgrounds in "modern" malls. Now, if only they would bring back the Orange Julius...

Wed Aug 17, 03:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great mall to walk through, but not much affordable stuff to buy. In its earlier years, its selection of shops wasn't as fancy-schmancy as it is now.

A couple of scenes from the Robert Altman flick "Dr. T and the Women" are set in NorthPark. Farrah Faucet frolicks naked in the fountain, that the above poster mentioned.

Wed Aug 17, 03:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anonymous said Northpark Mall is in the SMU area. Not really. I don't know anyone here who considers Northwest Hwy and Central to be the SMU area. A bit too far north for that.

Also I'm surprised no one pointed out that the Nashers were involved with the mall (and still are, I guess) and that it was the first mall in the US to feature original art.

It's always truly been more than a mall.

And oh my gosh, my brother and I also ran up those sloped ramps and tried to grab the planters! And Orange Julius, my the memories. I'm in my mid-30s.

Oh and I remember when Valley View Mall was built, too. What a big deal that was!

Who remembers Sanger-Harris? And Titches?

Wed Aug 24, 06:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If anything, Northpark Center is a tribute to the open air malls. It has the same feel that the old Seminary South Mall in Fort Worth had, except much cleaner and brighter due to the enclosure.

I find that the modern art exhibited there in the corridors add a dimension to the mall that other malls lack.

The beauty of the mall is in the simplicity of design. The mall works because it does not try to be too many things to too many people. It simply exists as an Icon of North Dallas shopping. The really cool thing is that witht the expansion, those who had never been there, may not ever notice that the mall has been expanded... which is a credit to the management.

It is a loss though, That FAO Schwartz is gone. I always thought it was kind of cool to have animatronics in the store which spoke to shoppers, when working.

I also discovered that the previously unexpanded version of the mall was much larger than I had ever thought. The size of the mall is misleading when you walk through it. It has more retail space than many of the areas newer, larger malls.

BUt it is an experience worth having, but for those who have not yet visited, but want to... I recommend the Christmas shopping season.

The one prominent change, other than expansion, that I have viewed has been that the original JCPenney store was torn down and a Foley's built on the same spot.

Sat Nov 12, 10:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stopped by Northpark yesterday afternoon to check out the progress of the massive addition. Now a true quadrangle, the center boasts an almost two acre outdoor garden and sculpture court in its center that should be an outstanding addition.

An upscale fifteen screen AMC complex sits atop a third level on the new north side of the mall with a glass-walled lobby that overlooks the gardens and beyond to Dallas' downtown skyline.

Two vast new multi-level parking garages have been added to the mix but everything is still constructed of the creamy white brick and concrete; a contemporary creation that Ray Nasher built in a cotton field back in 1964. The new additions are totally seamless with the old and come April, there will be more than 210 stores comprising Dallas' premiere shopping center.

Thu Feb 23, 04:09:00 PM  
Blogger the Blaminator said...

I have to disagree with the comment that the mall was "boring" in the early '80s. I was in my early teens back then, and I remember going to Waldenbooks and Babbage's software at NorthPark. I also remember that NorthPark had a Woolworth's store for a LONG time after they disappeared everywhere else, and I always admired that mall for having such a diverse array of stores (from Woolworth's to Penney's to Dillard's to Neiman-Marcus!). Now it has definitely trended toward mostly upscale stores, but it's still a very pleasant mall to walk through. I read recently that NorthPark is rare in that it doesn't allow "kiosks" to be set up in the middle of the corridors, a trick that many malls use to increase their sales dollars per square foot metrics. Instead, NorthPark puts planters, fountains, and modern art in its corridors. Very classy. Oh, and does anyone remember the Kip's Big Boy hamburger restaurant right outside of Titche's/Joske's/Dillard's? The Corner Bakery is there now.

Wed Jun 14, 10:47:00 AM  
Blogger the Blaminator said...

I also wanted to mention that the David Byrne movie "True Stories" had at least one scene filmed at NorthPark!

Wed Jun 14, 10:57:00 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

I'm a Dallas native and since childhood I was always inspired by the beautiful architecture of NorthPark. Thank you to Raymond Nasher and his family for their stewardship in preserving it for present and hopefully, future generations. Check the NorthPark website to see a great photo gallery added fairly recently with "then" and "now" photos -- a testament to the wonderful job they've done preserving this place. Visit:
Clock on photo gallery.

I don't live in Dallas anymore, but I always return to NorthPark when I visit.

Thu Sep 27, 02:03:00 PM  
Blogger Ryan C V said...

Some of the rapid transit stations in MARTA here in Atlanta have that recessed-grid ceiling stuff going on - they're from the mid-70s to late 80s. Interesting to see it in a different context.

Mon Oct 22, 09:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember visiting the FAO Schwartz there when my aunt was pregnant with my cousin in 1993. I remember it being a very nice mall, very clean, ritzy stores, though I never visited since (lived on the opposite side of the DFW area, now down in Austin). And the toy store being amazing, though smaller than I imagined it to be.

Sun Aug 31, 02:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Blaminator" just made my day for mentioning Kips Big Boy! No one seems to recall that place being there and I was starting to think I was crazy!!

Like so many of you, I have many fond childhood memories of NorthPark...especially the big fountain. There were colored lights in the water that would change as the fountain spray changed. I remembered making my Mom take a break from the grueling 5 hours we'd been shopping to wait for the "big show" to start!

Who remembers the balloon lady?? She'd walk around w/ a big bunch of mickey mouse head balloons for sale. Ahhh, good times. :)

Wed Apr 29, 03:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sample paragraph from an article about the NorthPark Center expansion from D Magazine:

"The expansion consumed a million hand-laid white bricks, enough to stretch to Houston. (Ray Nasher chose white brick because, he said, all of the world's most important buildings, from the Taj Mahal to the U.S. Capitol, are white.) Unable to match the ceramic tiles that lined the original floors, the architects searched the world for an alternative with the same color and texture. Before they would approve the new limestone tiles, Nasher and Haemisegger sent a representative to the quarry in Tunisia to check out the stone."

Thu Nov 19, 01:50:00 AM  
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Blogger creolelinks said...

Does anyone remember the name of the seafood restaurant that was there in the early 90's where Banana Republic is now. They had great biscuits. I was talking to a friend who I worked with at Dillard's in the early and mid 90's, however we could not remember the name of the restaurant.

Thu Dec 15, 04:03:00 PM  
Blogger Norm said...

Big Boy! Do you remember the bus boy who was a little slow mentally, but lightning fast with the tables? And he never broke anything! Always in his bowtie and apron. Wonder what became of him...

Tue Jul 10, 03:11:00 PM  

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