Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Big Town Mall


Mesquite, Texas - circa 1960s

Big Town, the first enclosed shopping mall in the Southwest, as well as the first enclosed, air-conditioned mall in Texas, began its date with destiny (the wrecking ball) last month, as wrecking crews began demolishing the structure. They estimate the job to be completed in September. There are no plans to redevelop it, nor any decision yet on what will take its place at the site. Thanks to MOA reader, Howard Wen, for the head's up on the demolition!

I enlarged the small interior inset photo on the postcard, so we could get a little better look inside. Also noticed this place had a great sign, too! See the Resource links below for in-depth history and info. Boy, I hate to see the old classic go.

Good Night Sweet Mall, And Flights of Angels Sing Thee to Thy Rest...

History: 1959 - 2006 (dead)
Current aerial view
Info from Wikipedia
Resource articles: 1, 2, 3, 4
Previous entries: none



13 Comments:

Anonymous didi said...

Such a cool postcard. So sad to hear its ultimate fate.

Tue Aug 15, 01:15:00 PM  
Blogger Jimmy said...

I found a lot of pictures of what the mall looked like before demolition here: http://www.uer.ca/locations/show.asp?locid=22242

It looks so different.

Tue Aug 15, 01:37:00 PM  
Blogger Keith said...

Yeah it does. Still had a cool sign, though, even to the end.

I thought of linking to those pix in the post, but eh, in keeping with the "retro" era tip here, nixed it. But I'm glad you mentioned it here, Jimmy, cuz they are neat shots!--and I'm a fan of the whole urban exploration thing.

Tue Aug 15, 03:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember hearing about a Neiman Marcus being here for a short time. But then they thought the area wasn't rich enough [when it was close to the city of Dallas (where alot of poverty is), where the flagship is]. So they moved more off to the suburbs and that's why Needless Markup only has thiry-something stores in rich suburbs.

Tue Aug 15, 04:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hello I'm Sharon from Dallas I will miss Bigtown.So many memories,like taking my grandma there,and getting my first ear piercing there and the street racing!!!

Tue Aug 15, 07:38:00 PM  
Blogger Steven Swain said...

That sign is something else. I wish somebody could salvage that and use it somewhere else.

Tue Aug 15, 08:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great pics of Big Town. I also read the Dead Malls column about Big Town having a NM when it opened. I do not think this is correct. I did research at the Dallas Public Library History Center, and copied Dallas Morning News articles that showed the opening day line up of stores and the building in question was always going to be a Sanger Bros store (later Sanger Harris). Further, there was a fairly futuristic drawing of the Sanger branch publicized months earlier. I had relatives in Dallas for years and would visit as a child often and even back then, I would find it very hard to believe that the eastern part of Dallas county (Mesquite) would ever have had a NM; all of the wealth was in North Dallas where NM put a branch store in the mid 50's at Preston Center and then Northpark in 1965.

Sat Aug 19, 11:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I first move to the area in 1980, Big Town Mall was booming. It had some of the biggest store chains and a good variety. Zales Jewelers, JC Penneys, it had a book store, a record store, a shoe repair shop and even a pet store. I bought my first pet guinea pig there. It was even busy enough to have a Santa there for the children. From what I can remember, it stayed pretty busy through the '80s. By the mid '90s, it was a ghost town. Hardly any stores left and the ones that were there hardly did any business. It became a hangout for the elderly. It was cute to see them in their warm-up suits with their walkmans, power walking the length of the mall. Some of the elderly were relaxing on the benches just talking and hanging out. By the early millennium, they had closed off the interior of the mall and put outdoor entrances for any store that was still open there. The only store that I know of that lasted until the end was Hitch & Rider.
I think it's a sad, pitiful thing that the owner of the mall didn't do anything to save the mall or to bring any businesses in there. A Montgomery Ward employee once told me that the landlord was being impossible about the rent and it was driving all the businesses out of there. I think he was going to turn it into an office park or something like that. What a dumbass.

Sun Sep 10, 01:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Big Town was a very busy place in the 60's. I was in elementary school and it was always crowded. It never had a Niemans, but was still pretty up-scale. Everyone knew when Town East Mall was built just a few miles away that it would eventually be the end of BT. It took longer than I expected. By the 80s and 90s most of the chain stores were gone. The mall had one of the area's only Allied stores that became Allied Radio Shack and then just Radio Shack. The movie theatre (General Cinema) was origianly two screens.

Thu Jan 25, 12:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up also in the 60's going to Big Town. Besides the stores there were different cool things in the Parking lot at different times. I remember at the NW corner there was a small amusement park. After that the Super Slide was fun. One year there was a show that came through with about 5 to 6 life-size dinosaurs. And a long time ago stores were not open on Sunday's. So we would learn to drive in the parking lot. When Big Town Cinema first opened me and my 3 brothers went and seen the first movie and it was "The Sword in the Stone" Days back then were not bad, to bad the kids of today want know how it was in the 50's,60's & 70's. Now we can only be nostalgic .

Fri Sep 04, 11:57:00 PM  
Blogger Josh Peck said...

I grew up in the early eighties and I remember my mom used to take us to Big Town as an alternitive to Town East. Town East was always so crowded, so she used to like Big Town because all the chain department stores were still open and there was a lot of other stores there too. It was pretty busy at that time. I remember there was a Santa there during the holidays. We used to eat at that snack area linked to Woolworth's inside of the mall. Sanger-Harris was boomin then! Even after Penny's closed, it was still busy. It was the demise of Sanger-Harris that brought the mall down. We used to go there sometimes in the early and mid-nineties and it was very slow and almost dead. A lot of childhood memories at Big Town. In 2006, Big Town was torn down and just driving to work everyday, seeing all the rubble was very sad. I guess nothing lasts forever.

Mon Sep 07, 03:34:00 PM  
Anonymous troyboymc1 yh said...

I also grew up with Bigtown being the place to go. I live in East Tx on I-30. It was a mini vacation for me and my family to drive to Big "D" to visit BTM. I started going as a infant in 1963 up until its closing. There were always traveling shows with petting zoos, Dog acts anything for the kiddos. There was always the balloon lady that would walk around carring big bundles of balloons.{also done at Northpark Mall}. It was filled with stores. There was a large toy store at the entrance by Wyatts Cafeteria,Lerners,Talbots,arcade,big name Jeweler near Monkey Wards,woolworth, you name it they had a store there, well almost. I too drive by and glance over to revisit memories now gone. My cousins and I would get so excited to see the BT water town coming into view. We couldnt wait for the great food at Wyatts. We would always stop by the Big Woolco store that sat by the Water-tower entrance on our way home from spending the entire day at Big Town Mall. I even remember when they did a major remodel on the mall to update it. Oh what memories. Now that makes me remember Valley View being born. Dang im feeling old for some reason. Laterz

Wed Feb 10, 08:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am 57 and grew up going to big town. such great memories. one thing always comes to mind. they would bring exhibits and one time there was a hollowed out redwood tree made into what I think was a trailer home. I was very young and may not remember it exactly as it was. Does anyone remember this? I loved lollipop park as well.

Mon Dec 01, 01:15:00 PM  

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