Vintage photos of lost Shopping Malls of the '50s, '60s & '70s
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posted by Keith @ 1/09/2006
Awesome!! It's good to see my hometown mall on the site. It was one of the largest in the country when built and had the largest multiplex movie theater in the world at the time also. It was built and owned by a prominent private developer...he had his own helipad on top of the mall so he could fly from his ranch out to the mall and shop!! Each wing had its own theme and name.....and had a huge two story "town center" complete with a hanging clock that bonged on the hour. The mall is still thriving better than ever.
I never get tired of seeing those old-school "Penneys" buildings. Great stuff. They just don't build 'em like this anymore.Never been to this particular mall, but I can imagine the interiors within were something to see. Nice to hear the place is still thriving too.
Matt: I think I have some interior shots. I'll look.Anonymous: Thanks for those great details! I appreciate it.
Mall was built in response to the developers frustration of how small his first mall named "The Center" was which is also now posted on this site.
JC Penney is still there...only remaining original tenant left.
Thanks for the info, Anonymous and SCL.
I grew up in Omaha and my house was very close to Westroads, in fact at one time I could see it from my backyard. I remember when it was under construction. They had a Bishop's cafeteria there at one time and I loved their food! Westroads seemed huge to me as a child. In retrospect, I liked the original Crossroads mall on Dodge Street much better, it's a tragedy they didn't save any of the original mid century mall decor.
Wow. I can't believe that's what the Westroads looked like! I am a teen and I live in Omaha, and the Westroads is my FAVORITE mall. Oakview is the second favorite.
haven't been there for awhile and like alot of things, i remember it as being bigger. it was a great asset to omaha and a fun place to shop, dine and see a movie all in one complex. charlie & bertha.. names of parts..
I recall the Westroads when it was first built in the 1970's. The entire interior had what they called an "English Hamlet" look that as a child I found magical. You can see some remnants of it in the brickwork they have not covered over, but the modern androgynous tile does not live up to the original's stylish look.
I remember fondly how the place looked growing up in the 80's and 90's. I recall the cafeteria and that they also had a chapel. I rememeber the old AMC theater which has since been torn down and now has a Dick's Sporting Goods on it's site. Also the Monty Wards building is long gone now having been replaced by a new building that housed the Jones Store but has since been taken over by Younkers.My favorite place though was the pet shop that use to be next to the theater inside the mall. They had a nice display window where you could look at all the rabbits they had. It was good times I tell ya. The early to mid 90's renovation undid alot of that sadly.
Westroads Mall was THE mall and still is. I do miss the old decor and the old clock in the center court! Anybody have a photo of that? As a kid we went to Lollipop Lane to get clothes. Then to the shoe store with the fire engine to get shoes. When I was a teen went to the Casual Corner downstairs, way downstairs. I remember a head shop in Westroads too. I fondly remember a Zondervan bookstore on the top floor. You know, The Afternoon shop has been there a long time, they are still there, great shop.
In junior high I didn't know what the head shop was all about. I truly was totally clueless. Seriously, I went in there and bought a roach clip with the feathers hanging from it. They had them in all different colors. I bought the purple ones, they were my school colors. I proudly wore them on my cheerleading uniform. Thought I was the stuff with my farrah hairdo, my cheerleading uniform, my "suntan" L'eggs and bobby socks and my roach clip with purple feathers. Our cheerleading sponsor looked at me. She was so funny. She was this afro'd teacher with an attitude and she said, "get that off your uniform. what is that?" I said, "a feather decoration." she shook her head. "do you know what that is???" I said, "a feather clip. I got it at Westroads."
Ah, Westroads.... The Kilpatrick's store with the high ceilings and bright, mod 70's colors, and the Fox and Six West Theatres. The Bishop's "Buffet" with its over-the-top, Liberace-esque decor. The exterior of the Montgomery Wards with it's colored tile panels. Frederick's of Hollywood. The huge plastic flower store..... Not as cool as Crossroads, but still an amazing place.
My parents managed the Westroads Dinner Theatre, located in the lower level, from 1973 through 1976.There was a huge blizzard in early 1975, and they were stranded there overnight, along with about 300 other mall employees and morning shoppers (the blizzard hit around 11 AM).
I recall when you walked in from the 4-main mall entrances. the dark brick with the white ooutlines and the amber lamp globes but before that they may have been gas light fictures. Those openings were very large. On the lower level it was smaller but I was just a child in 1974 and remember the ATT Phone store and I think Radio Shack was down there.Remember one month they had a huge fountain show.Bishops was here we ate every Sunday and I do recall the Heliport ans the stair case that came down by Bishops. We prabably spent most time in Montgomery wards which I know alot about the history. We ate in the small Wards cafeteria quite a but. Also the floor plan in Kilpatricks near the north exit was strange as you would cross under some of the other upstair shops in some sort of a veranda area. The whole layout was sort of insane. I too remember the fire truck in the shoe store. Also Orange Julius!! And the Hamburger shop with the stand-up tables. ALso that dark lounge on the 1st floor. I need to go back as it's been since 85 since I went there.
I can't believe that no one has mentioned the best arcade in Omaha - GIZMOS!! I practically lived there in the early 80's!Man...I am getting nostaligic for Bishops Cafe!
I too grew up in the Omaha area and spent many a day and night at the Westroads. My many memories also include that great clock tower in the Mall center...everyone knew to ''meet'' at the clock!! The pet store, movie theater...saw a lot of great ''oldies'' there and remember sneaking into a few R rated movies too! there are just too many great memories to list them all but thank for the trip back in time. I had a great time!!Jodi in Leavenworth Kansas
I worked for the Westroads maintenance department sweeping the floors and cleaning up when I was in high school in the mid-70s. The place had some amazing "behind the scenes" nooks and crannies the public never went or saw. The job was dirty and messy, but the work was easy and they paid well in comparison to what was available for most teenagers at the time (i.e., well above minimum wage). I made enough working for the mall to pay for my first two years of college.Working at Westroads on Friday and Saturday night, especially during the summer, meant knowing where all the good parties were that weekend. At that time, just knowing where the party was going to be was as good as an invitation. Given the times, I suspect that's no longer true....Several other posts make note of the chapel. As I recall--vividly--the chapel was often the site for some decidedly unreligious activity.
IM GOING OUT IN STYLE LOLZ
Dude, you are just demented. That post is a day after the tragedy there which makes it not only bogus, but just not funny and sick.Now for my cool memories... I remember the helipad and one time Santa actually left from there. I went and saw Santa there like a lot as a kid in the mid/late 70s. I also remember the huge Christmas tree in the center of the mall and there was once a coin shop, too. I remember the sweet smell of pipe tobacco from the tobacconist there. Good times...
Y'all are bringing back so many memories!I spent many many weekends there as a teenager and my first job, at age 14 was there at the small Baskin Robbins store close to one of the entrances. I think I was getting a whopping $1.40/hr in order to save up for Rush (Signals!) concert tickets. When I heard about the shooter having sniped from a balcony I thought they might have meant that one that was on the second floor, outside that snaked around a store and just seemed to go from one entrance to another. I remember so many of us would hang out there and get high inbetween mall cruises and waiting for our parents to pick us up.Thanks for the great blog and for bringing back some good memories!
OMG, I remember sitting on the bench in the fire engine to try on shoes. I remember weekly trips to Bishops (AWESOME) food. They gave little kids plates that had cartoons on the bottom of them like spider man (my fav). I also remember their chocolate silk pie..to die for. Also does anyone remember when the waitresses at Bishops wore maid outfits and you had to turn on a little lamp at your table to signal you needed service?
what was the name of the head shop on the lower level?
Bishops was awesome!! Anyone remember when it closed?
Remember the enormous old world clock that was suspended from the center of the main indoor courtyard? It had roman numerals, and I mean it was gigantic! Like the clock on the Parliment building but inside a mall. As a little kid it actually made me want to year to tell time and learn the roman numeral system. Dam, I wish I still had that child like interst in things again. On another note, I serious miss Bishops. I loved their choclate pie with the choclate shavings and really miss thos orange sweet rolls!
I worked at bishops down town. My sister got me the job. she left and went to the westroads as the head cashier. her name was lori hilliard. was grateful for the opertunity to work with her. They had the best food that i can remember. When i graduated tech high school went work there full time. That was 1983. Meet alot of great people. the building was a theater before it became a restaurant i know be cause i would have to change the air filters up stares and would see all the fixters that wer still there. And there signature dessert was Chocolat ambrosia pie!
Does anyone remember Bicentennial Square which was in the basement? It had about nine or ten stores and had wood floors. One was a t shirt shop. About 1980 there was some renovations done and a Musicland went in downstairs. Now the Downstairs is an arcade, Tiltz
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Wow! Grew up in that Mall from about 75 to 81! My first job was washing dishes at Bishops at 14 yrs old! Loved everything about that classic mall! Visited in 2004 and didn't remember a thing! Hauff Sporting goods next to Gizmo's! The small game room on the way to the center!
Wow. These postings are awesome. Nothing beats having these memories re-awakened for me. YES, I do remember Bicentennial Square. I knew it as Westroads Underground though, which may have been the sign by the exit that led to the front of Bishops. Bishops WAS awesome food. Even when they moved it up on Dodge st, the food was still outstanding. Now, in the Bicentennial Square/Underground, they had a clock store, t-shirt shop, and a deli that reeked of pickles. But I think it was different than The Deli, which opened later. Don't remember the head shop, but I was a kid and clueless.And I remember the chapel. So weird to think that was there in the middle of a major mall. And, people would always remind me that, in the 70's, it was America's 7th biggest mall. Got a lot of pride out of that ranking. Ha. My sister used to shop at Lollipop Lane. And I remember the arcade room near Orange Julius, which had AMAZING corn dogs. Sis was obsessed with It's A Small World, which was a great/crowded toy store before that. Of course, the best preppie store in Omaha was Ben Simons. And there was a King's hamburgers that turned into a Mr Pudge burgers (and they stole the Mr Bill logo). Great burgers though. And Pisa Pizza was tasty pizza. Speaking of food, I was also obsessed with dept stores that also had restaurants. Monkey Wards' food was actually good. Never got to try Penney's cafe. Walgreens had good food as well. For me, as a kid, nothing was better than having my mom or grandparents take me to lunch at the mall and buying me some crappy toy at one of the dimestores (Space 1999 flashlight gun). Finally, anyone remember The Hospitality Club? If you belonged to one of the banks of upstairs (First Natl?), you could go in back of the bank and there was this huge setup with giant couches, tv, and magazines. Like someone's living room. Anyway, little old ladies would come out of some closet and bring you delicious cookies and soda (ok ... pop). And it was absolutely zen. You could see what you bought and take a load off, Annie. I don't live in OMaha anymore, but seeing these pictures and reading everyone's shared experiences just made my day. I'll post more if the memory digs up more stuff!
No one mentioned this but the Six West was really cool because it was deep in the basement and had this great game room in the front. I would play asteroids and the other popular games of the time.
Gosh this all brings back so many memories! Remember the Russell Stover candy store on the upper level? And The Deli downstairs had the best bbq sandwiches! I remember the downstairs before they put the Deli in and it was kind of creepy and lonely downstairs as there was some kind of bar down a long hallway. And how could I forget the Corn Castle. I miss all of those places.
The bar in the Westroads was called the LTD Lounge. I remembered going there as a kid and having a Roy Rogers or if my sister ordered one it was a Shirley Temple. A Kiddie cocktail!
I remember we used to eat at Walgreens restaurant and we always tried to get a spot in the front so you could see the people walking by as you ate. And of course see what outfits they had on display at Fredericks of Hollywood directly across from the restaurant especially at Halloween time.
Your comments are awesome. So funny, too, because I was just reminiscing with family about all the stores that have come and gone at the Westroads. I, too, loved Bishop's! Forgot about the little lamps :o)I saw many movies at the theaters and even got to see the tunnels in the low-low levels when the tornado sirens were wailing during a movie. Have a feeling not many people can boast of that one!I loved I. Eugene's shoes on the corner...sold Famolare's with wavy soles. Can't forget The Sharon Shop for collectibles, Wix n' Sticks, Coach House, Siefert's, Natelsen's, The Plum Tree, Brandeis, Singer's Sewing, and the little shop in the Underground that sold every oil scent imaginable. Ben Simons was awesome! As also mentioned above, loved the pet shop. That was a must see every visit. I grew up by Tekamah, but spent many weekends and summers in the area. Wonderful memories. And, even though it's certainly not what we remember as kids and teens, it is still a great mall.Could always find my dad at the LTD!Thanks for the memories....
Now this one is what I've been looking for. Would be giving you credits on the way how you deliver this great insight. Such an interesting story. herbal smoke
Loved everyone's comments and facts, many of which were memories I'd long stored away in the back of my my mind. One of my favorite memories of the Westroads as a child from the 70s was a visit at Easter time, first to Bishop's Buffet (I too had forgotten the little battery-powered lamps on every table) for lunch, followed by a performance of the "Dean Short Puppet Personalities" which was done in the center area of the mall. Not only was Gizmo's one of the finest of arcades but it even had bumper cars! Saw my first R-rated film, National Lampoon's Vacation, as a 13 year-old, in 1983 at the 6 West Cinema (guess I snuck into that), and later at 17, saw the midnight showing of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show", also at the 6 West. There were a both a Brandeis and Younker Kilpatrick's department stores but when Younkers bought Brandeis, the Brandeis location, which was then opposite the center square area of the mall, was converted into the Younkers. Many years later, Younkers would be moved again and take up residence in the space formally occupied by Montgomery Ward's. Late 80s, early 90s, there was the ever popular Revolving Door Lounge on the lower level where one could karaoke to their heart's content. The Disney Store, and Warner Brothers Store both came and went, as did the Godiva Chocolate store (hated to see that one go). Once inside the mall, was the Baskin Robin's next to Bishops?The 7th largest mall in the world at one time! Ha! Come a long way, world!
Remember how the sides of the aisles were open by the floor and you could see people a level down? They had wrought iron over them.
Does anyone remember there being a disco/dance floor in the bottom of the Westroads in the early 70's? I thought it had a unique name, but just can't remember it. I went there on my first blind date, which was horrendous! I didn't grow up in Omaha, but moved here after high school, and these postings bring back so many memories!
Revolving door was the bar. Pipe Dreams was the head shop i believe. There was also one at Crossroads in the LL arcade
What's not there anymore:The "theater" entrance. Outside was the twin Fox theaters, just north of Penney's. Enter the shopping center there, and there was a small magic shop, later t-shirt store. Then a long hallway, on the right were the AMC six theaters (bowling alley style); the left, Penney's (two floors).The hallways all had addresses, like "Normandy Mall", because at the time, this was the Eighth largest shopping center in the world. The top level hallways had occasional floor cutouts with railings to the level below, for lighting? Air? These were later paved over when the building was renovated in the late 1980s.Penney's on the east. Kilpatrick's (later, Younker-Kilpatrick, and later, Younkers) and Brandeis (four levels) on the north. Montgomery Wards on the west. Bishops and Hinky-Dinky (a supermarket!) on the south.In the far southwest corner, upstairs, in a dead-end dead hallway near Montgomery Wards was a barbershop and chapel. The top floor stores had a second storey "attic" which some used, like the sporting goods store over on the south side near Penney's (United?). In the basement? A dinner theater. Later boarded up, no idea what's there now. Also, Douglas County offices, "Liberty Mall" where the head shop was, a record store, a cobbler, the AT+T phone store (back before cellphones). If you took the escalator downstairs, and walked south, you hit Liberty Square. There was a staircase which led to the south entrance (the south had a lower grade than the north) where the stamp/coin store was, and later, the Disney Store (with it's cool wall of granite artwork!). Bishop's cafeteria was on the outside, but the there was a small mall entrance, next to the computer shop selling Macintosh's and Apple IIIs in 1984. Kids will remember the Bishop's balloon chef with the cardboard feet.Hinky-Dinky? That closed quickly, I never remember it from 1975 onward. Gizmos, a sporting goods store, and one other? took that space. Not connected to the mall... you had to exit at Woolworths and walk a few yards outside. Later Gizmo's became Bally's. Gizmo's had bumper cars at one time.There was a mall entrance on the far northwest side, near Montgomery Wards. The bus stop was there at one point in the early 1990s. Otherwise, you could enter via Brandeis or Younkers. There were two Orange Julius shops in the mall. The AMC SixWest exits opened onto the mall directly south of the theaters. The doors were located between the pet store and Waldenbooks. Fox's exits opened on to the west side of their building, into the parking lot north of Penney's. Although very conservative before the Millennium, Westroads did host a Frederick's of Hollywood, although it was hidden away in a corner.J.G. McCrory's closed in the early 80s. I used to buy bubblegum cards there. BIG vacancy, but it got filled.The top floor stores on the south side all shared a service hallway/balcony. In some stores, you could see that back wall and windows. The Afternoon was one such store...very exotic, with a housewares section in the far back!There were numerous service staircases for people to use, but I rarely saw anyone on them. The clock in... Centennial Square? ...was posted until the renovation, then it was hung. The center atrium had chrome plated hire hydrants. Were they functional? Probably. That's where the animated Christmas displays were each year.I haven't been there in decades...but if I wandered the mall, I could probably point out where old stores used to be. Read All About It, A Small World, B. Dalton's, that smelly craft store (candles + fake fruit), the tiny arcade across the hall from the popcorn shop, KB Toys...
JCPenney is the last original tenant left. The Afternoon opened a second location at Midtown Crossing (31st & Farnam) and then closed their Westroads location. The basement/lowest level now houses a Forever 21. The old Kilpatrick's/Younkers was bulldozed and is now a 14 screen cinema (AMC Westroads 14). The original cinema is gone and there is now a Dick's Sporting Goods there. The old Montgomery Ward (aka Monkey Wards) became The Jones Store and then became the new Younkers. TGI Fridays is gone and is now Blatt Beer & Table. There's a second (sort of higher end) food court on the upper level now near the new Younkers.
I believe the basement (lowest level) at one point in the 1980s held The Deli (a Jewish deli) and Revolving Door Lounge (both run by Bernice Wolfson).
I used to work at the Walgreens at the Westroads back in 1974 / 75. They were famous for their patty melt, and their apple pie with a slice of cheese covered in caramel sauce
I briefly worked at the dinner theater in the basement level in '76-'77, and I really liked the vibe of the mall at that time. I haven't lived there for 34 years, and when I've visited the ambiance and the energy seem very different, not to mention the virtual replacement of every shop and business. Nice to reminisce, though.
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