Monday, July 31, 2006

Northridge Mall



Milwaukee, Wisconsin - circa 1974

Here are two great interior shots of the now-defunct Northridge Mall, in Milwaukee. These were taken not very long after the mall's opening in '73. (photos courtesy & © the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries)

Like many dead malls, this one's history was a colorful, and ultimately, sad one. For a number of years a thriving, happy place to be, only to wind up dying an ugly, steady death, beginning in the early '90s. It was razed to make way for a standard strip mall site called, Granville Station.

Mall history: 1973 - 2002 (dead)
Current aerial view (outdated, still showing the mall)
Resource articles: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Previous entries: none



44 Comments:

Anonymous tkaye said...

The design here looks very contemporary and almost ahead of its time for a mall built in 1973. Except for the bell-bottom pants and a few small details, I wouldn't have ever guessed these photos were that old.

Gotta love that blue Sears sign -- even though that color is very hard to see.

Mon Jul 31, 01:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Rob said...

Keith, the upper level looks almost like the corridor of a space ship with the skylight molds and those square panels! The hanging lights are futuristic as well.

As tkaye said, this mall was ahead of it's time and that Sears logo in blue is faint, but noticeable. Had to open it in SnagIt for closer inspection. I'm fairly certain the Tiffany's is a restaurant and not the jeweler.

Mon Jul 31, 02:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Kelly said...

I was thinking the same thing. The small details do give the photos away, but otherwise a good looking mall.

The Sears sign is hard to see. I was wondering what it was.

Mon Jul 31, 02:36:00 PM  
Anonymous optinyc said...

Nothridge Mall was my favorite place; I lived nearby and just like the bi-level feel of the place. Southridge was much more popular, but too far away to really visit often.

It's a shame how the place really fell apart. I left before I saw the decay, so only good memories abound. Thanks so much for putting these photos online - it's much appreciated!

Mon Jul 31, 03:10:00 PM  
Blogger Czeltic Girl said...

I spent A LOT of time at this mall as a teenager. Grew up in a suburb north of it and there wasn't much to do up there, so we'd all pile into our cars and go to the mall. It had our closest first-run theatre, too. I remember seeing Aliens there at least 5 times. (Bless the $2 Tuesdays.)

Thanks for the memories. I'd almost forgotten what Northridge looked like inside after all these years.

Mon Jul 31, 03:43:00 PM  
Anonymous dean said...

It's definitely a Taubman mall. Looks very similar to their other "futuristic" malls they built around the country. Very futuristic...and yet timeless. It's unfortunate that the local economic conditions lead to the demise of such a well-designed center, but I guess that's the reality of things.

What I've always liked about the earlier Taubman malls are the tall light fixtures they grouped along the walkways: tall chrome perforated cyllinders and boxes with multiple lights hidden inside. They had a really cool aesthetic to them. You can see some in the upper photo.

I've also seen some really neat pyramid-type light fixtures at the Lakeside Mall north of Detroit. I should send a pic of them to post here. Very nice.

-dean

Mon Jul 31, 03:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Tawny Boots said...

Wow it looks just like a mall I used to go to as a child Puente Hills Mall of Back to the Future fame

Mon Jul 31, 04:17:00 PM  
Blogger BIGMallrat said...

Yep, Taubman. The red carpet reminds me of Eastridge Mall in San Jose. The flooring is also repeated at Meadowood Mall in Reno and Stoneridge Mall in Pleasanton.
The story of the mall very interesting and sad. Sorry to see it go.
Scott

Mon Jul 31, 05:17:00 PM  
Blogger Cora said...

I always find it interesting how many malls presented on this blog died due to a deterioration of the neighbourhood they're located in.

In my hometown there are several malls in problematic neighbourhoods (decaying 1960s and 70s appartment blocks, high unemployment and poverty rates, etc...), but they're thriving, while the ones that seem to be having problems are often in "nicer" neighbourhoods.

So why do Americans refuse to go shopping in problematic neighbourhoods, whereas Germans don't seem to mind?

Mon Jul 31, 06:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I first saw this picture, I automatically asked myself "Is that a Taubman mall? It looks a lot like the layout of Woodfield Mall (in Schaumburg, IL.)!". After reading these comments, I was right.

I've heard a lot about this mall and living so close to the Wisconsin border, I think I've only seen this mall once...but I never got to go inside. Great pictures!!

Mon Jul 31, 07:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Jeff said...

Tawny Boots, you are right. Except that for the most part, Puente Hills Mall still looks like that. The only area that doesnt resemble that is the center court that was remodeled in the late 90's (they took the giant clock and big fountian out sadly). Puente Hills mall is on a rollercoaster ride. Its on a downward spiral right now with their Borders location closing and the loss of Robinsons-May (It will be Macys come September - lets hope Macys keeps this store..they didnt want any part of Puente Hills in the mid 90's when they bought out The Broadway and closed that Broadway location).

Mon Jul 31, 08:44:00 PM  
Blogger Steven Swain said...

I miss malls like this. The details made the design, and there's detail everywhere you look in these pictures.

Tiffan'y Bakery used to be evrywhere! As far as I know, there's only one or two left, one of which is/was at the Gallrey mall.

I wonder if over-expansion killed them off.

Mon Jul 31, 08:55:00 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Looks like it was a great mall at which to hang out!

Mon Jul 31, 09:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Matt said...

I did a brief write-up on this mall's history, and others contributed bits about its demise in the 1990s on the 'deadmalls.com' website. My entry is the topmost one.

As I stated in previous Taubman mall postings here, Northridge was indeed, a Taubman project (along with Southridge). In this case though, the malls were actually owned by the Kohl family (Herb Kohl, et al), who hired out the Taubman group to design and build out the malls.

1988 was the end of the ownership. Southridge and Northridge went to seperate owners, and I believe this is when Northridge started its downtrend.

The mall saw remodeling in the mid/late 1980s to update the look and give the mall a proper 'food court' on its second level near the anchor that was originally a Gimbles.

My first visit was in 1980, Halloween weekend. I still recall that old Sears sign vividly. It was in-fact, a dark vivid blue color as you people describe it. It 'was' hard to see in the daytime, but at night, it was easy to see. It's to be kept in mind, this was the color for their interior signage in most malls in the early 1970s, but I'm sure was easier to see in darker mall environments, than in these more open, airy sundrenched designs, which was a Taubman trademark in the era.

This mall's story truely is a sad one. In my intiial visits in the early 1990s, even then, it wasn't doing half bad. It's too bad, the area around the mall wasn't so kind....crime and what not just drove people away to the other malls. This mall's demise is a textbook example of 'white flight', literally.

Really too bad. It was a nice mall to visit, and the closest big one for me in the Milwaukee area. All of Milwaukee's northside malls have gone belly-up, except for Bayshore, which only survived since it's close to the affluent Northshore neighborhoods, and that one isn't even half the size of what Northridge and Capitol Court were.

Thanks for another great rush of memories, Keith.

Mon Jul 31, 10:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Steven Wilson said...

I have many late '70s photos of Northridge that are similar to these shots. It was definitely a Taubman project, like a mini-Woodfield. The architecture of Northridge seemed nicer than that of sister mall Southridge. When visiting both, I always had the impression that Northridge was the better of the two. I do remember visiting Southridge with a huge polka festival going on in the center court. It was a wildly popular event.

Another Taubman characteristic seen in the second photo is the mall's logo on the information booth. It was very common for the logos of Taubman malls to feature a repetition of the first letter of the mall's name. On the information booth you see the "N" repeated four times in a semi-pinwheel fashion.

Tue Aug 01, 12:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Matt said...

A little addendum / correction to my previous post.

My first visit was in 1990, NOT 1980 as I had previously stated. My mistake. Everything else stands as it was typed.

Southridge still has a little of it's '70s' decor going on, mostly with the ceiling skylights. They're uninteresting compared to what was done with Northridge..lots of hexagon-shpaed fixtures and such in this mall...from the skylights, to the lighting.

Also someone mentioned Tiffanys, which is visible here. They were indeed ALL over the place...one of my hometown mall's (That is, Forest Mall in Fond Du Lac) original tenants. They all went belly-up in the early 1980s. My bet's with the poster that said they did themselves in due to overexpansion. Where were they based anyways?

Steven Wilson: You'll have to share those pics with the blog sometime.

Quick blurb on Southridge: My first visit to Northridge's sister mall was in 1994. Boy was THAT mall a trip backwards to 1970. Half the storefronts were outdated, and the mall had yet to get remodeling beyond just a paintjob. I can see why people who lived close to Northridge, just stuck to going there instead of the southside mall. Not just by distance, but by appearance.

Though I will admit nowadays, I miss the old look. Mills, having since taken over the mall a few years back, remodeled it completely, ripped out all the fountains, and any other things that gave Southridge it's old-fashioned 'mall' character. Now it's just like any other mall. Boring, and blah-zhay.

(Hopefully there's some vintage Southridge pics out there.)

Thanks again Keith. :)

Tue Aug 01, 01:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also thought of the Puente Hills Mall when I saw this photo! I spent a lot of hours there in high school in the late 80's. Would LOVE to see some photos. Anybody have some? Is that mall by the same designer?

Tue Aug 01, 02:24:00 AM  
Anonymous christyl said...

I too spent a lot of time at this mall as a kid. Lived in various suburbs north of the mall in the 1970's, until we moved across the metro-Milwaukee area and landed near Southridge (its sister mall) in the late 1970's. These photos bring back so many memories. I loved the iced cinnamon bread from Tiffanys. That was always the highlight of any trip to Northridge.

Tue Aug 01, 08:35:00 AM  
Blogger BIGMallrat said...

Cora - Bad neighborhoods have to deal with shoplifting and other crimes, which cost a lot and eat into profitability. Many stores find it costs too much to operate, so they close. Look at Oakland, CA. A city of 350,000 and very little retail. The only mall closed, a big-box center didn't open until 2005. Even Kmart closed. The wealthy [mostly white] people who live there drive to the other rich predominately white neighborhoods (e.g., Walnut Creek or Pleasanton) to spend their money in chic malls with Pottery Barn. You draw your own conclusion.
Scott

Tue Aug 01, 12:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Steven Wilson said...

Matt: I will add digging out the old Northridge photos to my to-do list. I have some Southridge shots from the same era, too, although not as many as Northridge. I'll dredge those out when I go after the Northridge photos. I have the Northridge and Southridge mall directories from back then, too.

Tue Aug 01, 11:39:00 PM  
Anonymous trimac20 said...

It looks far too modern for my tastes. I know many malls today that even look older than it. But other than that, I'm digging the cool tiling...

Wed Aug 02, 10:33:00 AM  
Blogger Jimmy said...

I don't think anyone mentioned this already, and if they did I'm sorry to repeat, but I think it's really cool how if you look at the wooden seating area from above, it's the same logo as on the information booth.

Wed Aug 02, 11:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Prangeway said...

The article from the City of Milwaukee that states the mall was torn down is mostly inaccurate. As of a few weeks ago, most of the mall structure is actually still standing; however, 2 of the anchors were torn down to make way for Menard's.

Wed Aug 02, 02:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Elizabeth said...

That picture from 32 years ago looks a lot like Carousel Center Mall in Syracuse today.

Sun Aug 06, 09:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have posted my pictures from inside Northridge Mall in summer of 2002 at: http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=northridge+mall+milwaukee&m=text for anybody interested in seeing Northridge just before it closed down from the inside.

Wed Aug 30, 11:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never had been to Northridge Mall since my family mainly went to Southridge in the Southern suburbs. Southridge now seems to be faltering a little bit compared to Mayfair, Brookfield Square, and the new Bayshore town center. I hope the main arcade of Northridge Mall doesn't get demolished for redevelopment...but how else can the space be used? Plus the entire Northwest side of Milwaukee seems to be struggling.

Thu Nov 30, 11:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great. Now I've got a total craving for a Tiffany's cookie...

As for overexpansion, they had a Tiffany's in the dinky Crystal Point Mall in Crystal Lake, IL. (That mall, btw, has been retooled into a big-box strip mall.)

Sat Jan 06, 10:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those pictures brought back a lot of memories growing up on the Northwest side of Milwaukee. Thanks for the pics.

Sat Feb 03, 12:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Northridge mall was not razed. The Sears store was torn down and replaced witha Menards and Pick N' Save, but that's it. The rest of the mall exists, but is fenced off around the perimeter.

Thu Feb 22, 09:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I moved to Menomonee Falls in 1977 and this mall was THE MALL to go to in it's heyday. Brookfield Square was a dump at the time compaired to it. (Mayfair still had the appeal of the ice rink inside it and McDonalds for b-day parties). By the 90's it was sooo sad how it was just being left to die with all the stores moving out and the crime that was happening. I remember that it sat for aaaages for sale for a ridiculously LOW price (for a mall!) and finally it's been changed to house Menards and some other stuff.

Sat Mar 03, 02:19:00 PM  
Blogger Murray said...

I was so excited to see this blog!My friends and I who grew up in the area occasionally try to come up with the names of stores in the mall back when we were teens in the 70s. We have the anchor stores down---Sears, Gimbles, Boston Store, and Pennys. There was a theater. The following are the stores we have come up with so far. Tiffanys, Woolworth, Slicers, Harvest House, Chapmans, Tinderbox, Merry Go Round, Upside Down (this one we are not positive about but we think this was the name of a hip 70s clothing/shoe store),Walden Books, Daltons, Foxies (not sure about this one either), Bakers. There was a leather clothing shop where we all got our cool leather jackets ---but we can not agree on the name---a couple say Wilsons but others of us think that Wilsons came later or was another store but not the one we are trying to think of . Also there was a restaurant that sold large, thin crust pizzas by the slice and orange juice slushies it was pre Orange Julius---we can not remember the name of this place either. Not to mention all the other stores, that we come up with once in a blue moon. What we would really love is an old layout with the names of the stores. If any one out there can help us add to the list it could end future years of torture. Help!

Fri Mar 16, 06:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The irony is that Northridge was always considered to be the more upscale of the two malls, Northridge and Southridge, and the area around Northridge was considered to be a more upscale neighborhood in general.

In the 1990s that changed in a major way, with some high profile crimes occurring in the Northridge parking lot which sealed the mall's reputation, and shoppers fled to other Milwaukee area malls such as Mayfair and Brookfield Square.

Now Mayfair is experiencing some upticks in crime themselves, having recently implemented a Mall Of America-like curfew where shoppers under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian 21 or older after 2:00 PM on Friday and Saturday…

Mon May 14, 08:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember being a kid and trick or treating at the mall, when each store was giving out candy, and seeing santa clause at christmas time. My church was a few blocks away called shepherd of the ridge lutheran church used to do a gift wraping service for free during the christmas seasons, me and my friends would play in the back while our parents wrapped presents, good times. I remember the time Jesse Anderson from cedarburg killed his wife in the Friday's parking lot and blamed the area gang members, there were false reports of people hiding under cars and slashing people's legs and robbing them, my parents rarely went there over the years when the neighborhood started to change, which also resulted in the closing of our church due to membership decline, having to do with the neighborhood. Good memories of that mall, also anyone remember the burger king and the small merry go round inside of it???

Sun Oct 28, 02:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Steven Wilson said...

Okay, my Northridge photos are starting to go online here:
Northridge photos. I will continue to add more Northridge photos to that set over time. I have some Southridge photos that were taken at the same time. So I guess I'll scan those and put them up eventually, too.

Tue Apr 22, 03:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

someone referred to the area on the lower level as the "wooden" seating area. it and all the other areas of the mall were solid marble.

Thu Jul 31, 02:11:00 PM  
Blogger MBPhotography said...

Murray wanted to know what Wilson's leather was called. The old name was Berman's I will try to find my 1975 photo with Santa at Northridge . I grew up less than a mile away.

Sat Jan 17, 09:19:00 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

Thanks for all of the great pics of Northridge, everybody. I spent many hours shopping there in the late 80's and early 90's and I still find it hard to believe how fast that mall folded. And, I agree with everybody who said Northridge was always classier and nicer than its sister mall, Southridge.

Tue Apr 21, 04:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Pizza Place that was upsatirs at Southridge.... My friends and I have been tring to figure out the name of it for days.... Anybody?

Mon Feb 22, 08:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...The Orange Bowl?

Tue Jun 08, 12:14:00 PM  
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Sat Oct 02, 06:59:00 PM  
Blogger johnson said...

beautiful malls of America

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Thu Nov 18, 01:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like a scene out of the 70's movie- Logans Run!

Fri Jan 06, 09:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are correct about the leather store. It was originally called Berman Buckskin. Does anyone remember the restaurant in the parking lot called Jojo's. Loved that place. Oversized wine goblets before it was cool, a big open fireplace in the center...my future husband's and my favorite date place. Later they replaced the fireplace with a fish tank. Good food too.

Fri Aug 10, 05:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husband and my date place too! LOVED Jojo's. First restaurant we had ever seen with a fireplace...first to serve big oversized goblets of wine...great burgers...reasonable prices. I'm afraid the biggest problem with the neighborhood was when they decided to add public assisted housing to the upscale lakeside condos and apartments surrounding the mall. I know people don't like to here this but the neighborhood was fine before that. It was Northridge Meadows, but unfortunately everyone called it Northridge ghettos. Crime increased dramatically, condo's could no longer be sold and the whole thing fell apart.

Wed Sep 25, 11:09:00 PM  

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