Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Eugene Mall


Eugene, Oregon - '60s or '70s

Something a little different here. This is a postcard shot of an outdoor pedestrian mall shopping center in Oregon (see the Woolworth's over there?). Not an enclosed mall, but it's just so groovy I had to post it!

I have no idea if this place is still there (I'm guessing it is), as I was unable to find a website for it. Postcard simply says "Eugene Mall, in Eugene, Oregon", and a check online doesn't seem to turn up any particular mall by that name these days (I'm sure someone out there will know anyway). But whatever, just gaze at this swanky retro goodness, gang.



27 Comments:

Blogger Cora said...

What's that in the foreground? Artwork, giant letters or whatever?

Tue May 09, 05:43:00 PM  
Blogger Keith said...

I believe it's some cool sculpture work, Cora.

Tue May 09, 05:45:00 PM  
Blogger Steven Swain said...

I love those old pedestrian malls. It's hard to find one that hasn't been ripped out by now.

Tue May 09, 10:36:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Sobieniak said...

To go off-topic for a bit, it looks as if the Southwyck Shopping Center in Toledo is going to be redeveloped into some outdoor "lifestyle center" or wahtever according to this latest news....

http://www.nbc24.com/Global/story.asp?S=4874225&nav=menu122_3

Tue May 09, 10:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Matt said...

The downtown of Wausau, WI, had one of these 'pedestrian malls'. It's gone now, having been ripped out last year to allow traffic to flow through again, but was there around the time their downtown enclosed mall, Wausau Center, was opened in 1983.

Speaking of their downtown and its enclosed mall, the mall too, is getting a remodel now. When I read the news of that last week, I was a bit disheartened. I got in there many times in 1997-1998 and though it is an 80's mall, it sure didn't look like it. It had more of a '70's thing going with wood beams, opaque skylights and neutral colors. THere was a large fountain in Center Court (this got ripped out around 2000-2001, plus cool stained glass backlit paneling at the ends above the anchor entrances.

Ah yes, lots of OUTDATED storefronts too, mostly with apparel stores (namely DEB, Vanity and 'the limited'..i recall those vividly). I thought it was way neat.

A shame they're going to rip all of that cool stuff out for a 'blah' contemporary look now.

Wed May 10, 01:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me post some mall theory here. It seems that the outdoor mall is becoming a trend. I would imagine it is because its having to compete with "big box" stores that you can also see from your car such as marshalls, circuit city, etc.

Thu May 11, 06:58:00 AM  
Anonymous DiDi said...

I wonder if this mall was later enclosed. I remember reading a post in Remembering Retail about a mall in Eugene, Oregon that was used for a 1980 movie called "How To Beat The High Cost of Living" and this film was indeed filmed in Eugene, Oregon according to imdb.com. How many malls could Eugene have possibly had in the 70s and 80s?

Thu May 11, 08:50:00 AM  
Blogger Keith said...

Valley River Center, also in Eugene, was the one used in that movie, Didi.

Anonymous: That theory makes sense to me. There's obviously more to it than that, but I agree that's part of it. Everything's renovated into a shopping "destination", "lifestyle center", or "village" now. BLECH! They're really trying to blend the shopping mall INTO the very fabric of the city, so it feels like an actual extension of the surroundings. I'd rather just a have a plain old shopping mall myself. But that's becoming passe' nowadays, I guess.

Steven: Maybe I'll throw a few more of these into the mix more often. they do have a certain charm that's hard not to love! And it's basically just a roofless shopping mall anyway. :)

Chris and Matt: Sad to hear of even more homogenizing renovations in your necks of the proverbial shopping wood. Truly sad to see the old malls dying out like this and turned into shiny, corporate, generic megalopolis's.

Thu May 11, 04:23:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Sobieniak said...

DiDi said...
I wonder if this mall was later enclosed. I remember reading a post in Remembering Retail about a mall in Eugene, Oregon that was used for a 1980 movie called "How To Beat The High Cost of Living" and this film was indeed filmed in Eugene, Oregon according to imdb.com. How many malls could Eugene have possibly had in the 70s and 80s?

Hey, I remember that film! My mom has it on VHS somewhere in our collection. I personally wish Toledo had a mall like that one at least, looks like we may never see one at all now. Too often the malls in Toledo always reminds me of the one in "The Blues Brothers" in archetecture and one-story blandness (except the anchors that did have multiple floors).

Keith said...
Valley River Center, also in Eugene, was the one used in that movie, Didi.

Thanks for identifying that. I think there's an opening arial shot in that film that might've showed the mall's exteriors as well but I haven't seen that film in a long while.

Anonymous: That theory makes sense to me. There's obviously more to it than that, but I agree that's part of it. Everything's renovated into a shopping "destination", "lifestyle center", or "village" now. BLECH! They're really trying to blend the shopping mall INTO the very fabric of the city, so it feels like an actual extension of the surroundings. I'd rather just a have a plain old shopping mall myself. But that's becoming passe' nowadays, I guess.

Pretty much an extension of suburban development that has to carry everything in one basket so you won't have to bother leaving the premises for anything since it's all there for you. I think I used to have nightmares that this would happen someday, and that day has come.

Steven: Maybe I'll throw a few more of these into the mix more often. they do have a certain charm that's hard not to love! And it's basically just a roofless shopping mall anyway. :)

I have to be reminded of that, though I really don't care much for
outdoor shopping centers much personally, especially in the wintertime.

Chris and Matt: Sad to hear of even more homogenizing renovations in your necks of the proverbial shopping wood. Truly sad to see the old malls dying out like this and turned into shiny, corporate, generic megalopolis's.

Thanks for sympathizing.

I just don't think these "lifestyle centers" work too well during the winter months (namely in the northern states). While I think it would be nice to go to them during the spring and summer seasons, they feel rather unpleasent the rest of the year, and I could only see these working better in the south, but who knows, the public wouldn't care less these days with the newbie trends taking shape. Too often "Dead as the Drive-In" has been my statement for the declining enclosed shopping malls of yesteryear. Both has served a purpose for anumber of decades, leading to further expansion of the suburbs in a way that has now been oversaturated in today's world.

Interesting reading about Matt's problem. Worst my city had for something downtown in the 80's was a "festival marketplace" called Portside. I've only been in it once or twice in my lifetime, but didn't really go for it at all. The place has since closed up in 1990, and is now a satellite of a hands-on science museum called "Cosi".
http://www.cositoledo.org/

I still think about the time I was in Columbus in '95 and got to visit the "City Center" downtown. I think that was what Toledo sorta needed if it had to really spruce up it's downtown. They still can't get their heads together over where to put the new hockey stadium or what to put into the established "Marina District". Just seems like wasted potential and mis-opportunities to me.

Thu May 11, 05:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The mall, which recently reopened to automobile traffic, used to span 4 or 5 blocks along Broadway Avenue in downtown Eugene. When it first opened even some of the cross streets were pedestrian only but those were quicky reopened. The mall was automobilized in an attempt to revitalize the local businesses. Karl.

Thu May 11, 09:23:00 PM  
Anonymous DiDi said...

"Keith said...
Valley River Center, also in Eugene, was the one used in that movie, Didi."

Thanks so much, Keith, for identifying that mall. I didn't catch that the one above was also in Eugene, oregon. I had heard about it and the film but no one ever identified it until now.

Chris, I have been wanting to see this film just to check out the mall scenes for a while now and I finally bought a VHS copy used on half.com yesterday so I am looking forward to the vintage mall culture!

Fri May 12, 10:44:00 AM  
Blogger Chris Sobieniak said...

DiDi said...
Chris, I have been wanting to see this film just to check out the mall scenes for a while now and I finally bought a VHS copy used on half.com yesterday so I am looking forward to the vintage mall culture!
Hopefully it'll work for you. Too often I kinda hate watching films featuring malls since I know I'll never go to them sadly, and too often the typical mall in these places tend to look better than the ones in my town (which has just whittled down to about two these days).

Sat May 13, 12:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Soory the mall is long gone and the streets opened up again

Sat May 13, 08:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the mall in downtown eugene is no longer there.it has been opened for car traffic.the sculpture in the foreground was a fountain ,that was used by many a hippie to bathe in.
john lester,nampa idaho

Sat May 13, 09:27:00 PM  
Blogger Cora said...

First, America abandoned its downtowns in favour of enclosed malls, now it seems people are trying to reverse the trend.

Though I agree with whoever said that enclosed malls are ideal for the often extreme weather conditions found in many parts of the US. It's not just wintertime in the Northern states. Just try walking around outdoors in - say, Mississippi - in July. Within minutes you're drenched with sweat, which does not make for a happy shopping experience.

Wed May 17, 05:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is downtown Eugene, Willamette Street looking south. The Woolworths left in the mid-1990s, and is now some kind of day care place. I've driven down this street hundreds of times, I had no idea it used to look like this...

Sat May 20, 11:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sacramento has had the K st. Mall (pedestrian) closed off to traffic for almost fourty years! (1968) It still is dead, always will be. Mainly because of the statement made previously, extreme hot in the summer, and cold and rain in the winter.
They are tearing down the old Florin Mall in South Sacramento to develop one of those "villiage" type things, never mind that Florin mall rotted away being in a BAD side of town.

Fri Jun 02, 07:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Angela Russell said...

When my sister and i where small girls in the mid 80s my mother would take us down town Eugene and let us play in that foutin. By the eirly 90s the foutin was turned off because it was costing the city of Eugene to much money to keep it on. That is what I was around 13/14 then a group of kids had started hanging around that foutin area calling them slef mall ratz. They where truobled kids run aways u name it they where all there (even my self)and those kids where 1 of the reasons they took all that down and opend the road back up. Be for they ever tore it down I have moved away i remember that like it was yesterday. It was the prime of my youth. Now i live in Alaska and seeing that post card brings many memories for me>

Sat Sep 23, 09:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, that post card brings back memories. The cool fountain in the picture is gone. So is Woolworths, Newberrys and the whole area looks so different when you go downtown Eugene. I live in Springfield, which is just across the I-5 from Eugene. but keep the Post Card. It might be worth something one day. Doc

Thu Jun 07, 02:07:00 AM  
Anonymous james said...

I had a lot of great times on the Eugene mall in the 70's and 80's...i'm glad i came across this website...the mall is mostly gone now and the streets have been reopened to traffic...those were the days!

Sun Oct 28, 10:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to live in Eugene when I was young. This is acually the downtown pedestrian mall. The area still has stores and shops but they ripped out the fountains and opened the streets back up to cars. When valley river center opened in the sixtys people stopped going downtown and went to the brand new indoor mall instead. During the 90's the downtown mall was over run with street kids and homeless. Its slowly making a comeback but it will probably never be the mall it used to be.

Mon Feb 18, 02:53:00 PM  
Blogger Don said...

It is closed now, but there is a push to revitalize downtown where the mall used to be. The climate in the Willamette Valley was one reason the mall eventually faded away. The largest issue was the significant population of homeless and drug traffickers that moved in, often found sleeping on the playarea structures or benches in the morning. It is a shame, since I enjoyed going there as a kid.

Fri Oct 03, 04:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

boy what a shot- I am a Eugene native and remember the construction of the mall...!968-1969) I landed in 1964..........so many cool old buidings torn down. However, I remember the first few years of the mall were genuinely pleasant, fun, minimal panhandlers, people were actually civil. I miss the simpler times.......anyway, by 1974ish, the mall became the place to hang out after stores closed. Lotta loitering, petty crimes, a stabbing, (you know the rest) Ironically, for all the animosity towards the failed mall, and "the butt ugly Planet of the Apes" fountain basically symbolizing the de-evolution of the general public, I have come to appreciate the modernity attempts at late 60' & early 70's architecture. Missing from the photo is other columns and elements that in my mind are hideously gorgeous. Yeah, I think when watergate, women's lib, and the arrival/proliferation of whining, lack of respect, stinky, freelaoding, politically vocal hippie offspring started coming on the scene, the days of a pleasant mall experience became extinct, almost over night here in Eugene. Now, The same area basically looks like a cross between Baghdad, and a lame half-assed attempt at captilizing on the "counterculture" ie: Saturday Market. No, don't wanna sign your petition or buy a candle. "don't hear em' complain about the govt. as much as they use to.....................since most of em' are sponging disability in one form or another.

Sun Apr 04, 02:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was the manager of the the Woolworth store in Eugene from April 1981 until it closed in January 1994. The picture was probably from the 1980's. The structure was a fountain and was not repaired and was left dry the last few years before Woolworth closed. When Willamette Steet was reopened the structure removed. The former Newberry's store is now a day care center for the Downtown Athletic Club. The Woolworth store was torn down around 2001 and remains a large hole in the ground. The store was originally opened in 1912. It was expanded around 1960 to include a former JC Penney store and to add a basement. It's was Store #633 and was part of the Seattle District the majority of the time I managed the store. Dave Menzies

Thu May 06, 01:54:00 AM  
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Sat Oct 02, 06:09:00 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I didn't read through all the comments, but to answer the original question, no, the weird "sculpture" in the intersection of the Eugene pedestrian mall at Broadway and Willamette was actually a fountain, although it rarely functioned. It was removed in the 1990s, as was the pedestrian mall itself. The streets are now open to traffic, which has not improved business in the area, as had been hoped.

Mon May 02, 03:29:00 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I didn't read through all the comments, but to answer the original question, no, the weird "sculpture" in the intersection of the Eugene pedestrian mall at Broadway and Willamette was actually a fountain, although it rarely functioned. It was removed in the 1990s, as was the pedestrian mall itself. The streets are now open to traffic, which has not improved business in the area, as had been hoped.

Mon May 02, 03:30:00 PM  

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