Monday, August 07, 2006

Tri-City Mall

Phoenix, Arizona - circa '60s or '70s

Vintage-era aerial photograph. Last I read (articles cited below), this mall has been demolished to pave the way for a proposed light rail transit station on the same property. Tri-City Mall is no more.

Mall history: 1968 - 1998 (dead)
Info from Wikipedia
Current aerial view
Resource articles: 1, 2
Previous entries: none


Blogger Greg van Eekhout said...

The site of Tri-City is currently a strip mall, but when it was still a mall, my buddy and I shot off bottle rockets behind the loading dock of the Penney's. I'd say kid's stuff, but we were already in our thirties.

Mon Aug 07, 02:09:00 PM  
Blogger BIGMallrat said...

How sad. Guess a parking lot has more value in Mesa.

Mon Aug 07, 05:21:00 PM  
Blogger Steven Swain said...

I read about this place not too long ago. Sounds like it had a pretty proud history.

Mon Aug 07, 09:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Lel said...

In either 1999 or 2000 a strip mall was erected in its place. That strip mall is still something like 30% empty and the neighborhood is going downhill in a hurry.

What's rather eerie is that up until about six months ago, they left the hulk of JC Penney's up. Also, the back parking lots are very close to original, except perhaps with more weeds.

Wed Aug 09, 11:58:00 PM  
Anonymous tkaye said...

A few questions for anyone familiar with this mall--

It looks as if Penney's is bisected by the mall concourse. Or was the Penney's sign we see here just over the top of a general mall entrance and the store actually limited to the big box on the other side of the mall?

Who was the anchor with the funky arches over their entrance at lower left?

Looking at the signs on the common mall facade, does the second one from the left actually say Denny's?!?! Doing a little Googling, I found a Denny's across the street from this mall... did it move from an original location in the mall? I'd never heard of a Denny's in an indoor mall, so the possibility is intriguing!

Finally, is that a supermarket with the big pylon sign on the far right end of the mall?

Needless to say, I'd love to get my hands on an early map of this place.

Fri Aug 11, 02:07:00 AM  
Blogger Mitch Glaser said...

I grew up a couple miles from Tri-City Mall, so I can answer tkaye's questions.

No, Penney's didn't bisect the mall. It just had a sign over the main mall entrance.

The other anchor with the funky arches was Diamond's, a Phoenix-based chain that was owned by Dayton-Hudson prior to its sale to Dillard's circa 1984.

Good eye with the tenant sign: it's not Denny's, it's Hanny's, a Phoenix-based men's clothing store that has been out of business for about 15 years.

The supermarket at the right is Bashas', a Phoenix chain that is still in business, but not at this location.

Tri-City did have a proud history, as it was extremely successful as the East Valley's only mall for over a decade. However, the Superstition Freeway slowly replaced Main Street as Mesa's main drag and Fiesta Mall opened for business a couple miles away in 1979. Having defeated Tri-City, Fiesta is now having troubles of its own.

Diamond's opened at Fiesta but kept its Tri-City store open for a few years. In the late 1980's, the Diamond's store was redeveloped into an odd mix of uses: Cigna Health Plan offices, Winston's jr. department store, Mann Theatres, a food court, and Lawson College.

I have many fond memories of Tri-City.

Mon Aug 14, 03:51:00 PM  
Blogger Sergei_lion said...

I lived literally within a 10 minute walk to the mall so you might say that I have more intimate memories of the mall than most.

Good old Tri City. It wasn't the biggest mall, but it was home-away -from home for me. So many memories....Does anyone remember....

The artificial waterfall that was in the foyer of the mall just in front of JC Penney's?

Tot Safety Town (I was one of the little ones that attended this) held in the foyer?

The Mercado Mini Mall (which was later closed down and the space used as part of The Ben Franklin store)?

Charlie, the little elderly janitor who used to work there?

Helen the older lady who ran the music store for many years. A real sweetie?

The "Concerts" given by Schroder's Music Store (I still think about you Don Muthi!)? Word was that those concerts actually annoyed the other merchants and they breathed a sigh of relief when Schroder's packed up and left.

The Pinz Game Room (where are you now Ron Tomecco and Steve Voet?)? This is the place where I first learned the pleasures of video gaming.

Grant Malouf (the owner) himself? Only met him once, but he was a real sweetie.

The Walgreen's store (and the adjacent lunch counter-that they later closed down and put the cosmetics department into)?

Janet the Florist? She had a kiosk to the left of the entrance to Penney's (I still remember fondly the corny joke we shared...)

me: How's business Janet?
her: Blooming!

RIP Tri City. Gone but not forgotten! This Mallrat will never forget!

Tue Sep 05, 02:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My own recollection is that Tri-City was an odd hybrid of strip-mall and conventional indoor mall: the stores on the main parking-lot side of the mall (the south side, facing Main Street) were open to the sidewalk as well as the mall. This is a layout I've never seen anywhere else.

Tri-City had what's now considered an awkward layout anyway, a VERY long straight east-west axis. Modern mall architects use visual interruptions -- curves, zigzags, signage -- so it's not possible to see more than about fifty yards in a single direction. Shoppers can easily get discouraged at the thought of "walking to the other end of the mall and back" if they can see just how far it is.

Remember all the antique shows and rock-hound shows in this mall in the late 1970s and early 1980s?

Tue Oct 17, 02:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And to tkaye: yes, the big pylon sign marked a Bashas' supermarket. That particular store is now gone, but the Bashas' chain survives and thrives (now four chains under one corporate roof: Bashas', fairly standard supermarket; Food City, no frills, rock-bottom prices, lots of Hispanic foods; AJ's Fine Foods, unusual and "specialty" items; and Bashas' Diné, catering to the Native American community).

Tue Oct 17, 02:13:00 PM  
Blogger littljen said...

I worked at the Harkins Dollar Theatre in the food court around 1993. At that time, the mall was dying. The food court had only 2 places to eat. A Chinese food place and another place that I can barely remember. I loved the Sweet and Sour Chicken at the Chinese place.

Fri Jul 25, 02:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The chinese place was amazing - called Red Dragon. The first place, as a child, I ate anything other than fried rice when it came to chinese food. The owners were fantastic!

Fri Oct 10, 11:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

tkaye and both are right..when I first started working at gallenkamp shoes in 1972, there was a small denny's restaurant by diamonds. My manager, bill irvan, used to take me there for breakfst before we opened the store in the mornings. Over by baker's shoes, there was a Hannys mens store. Then they opened the furrs cafeteria by walgreens and dennys closed.

Tue Aug 04, 02:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember this mall as a kid, growing up in Mesa in the late 80's and early 90's. I used to run around that place and shut down the elevator halfway down then jump out so it was stuck between floors. There was a Lamson college in the second story west end and a Harkins theatre. In the east end there was a Wal-greens store that was 2 story which actually the basement was off limits to customers but you could look down the conveyer belt to see their stock underneath. I remember that you could buy mexican jumping beans there.

Sat Jan 16, 11:52:00 AM  
Blogger sandman said...

Oh how I miss Tri-City Mall! It was my favorite for all time. I was 3 when the family moved to mesa from the midwest.1966; we lived just West of the future mall on 1st. Street. I remember playing out on the sidewalk looking up the street and seeing it being built. When I started school (Websters Elementary) we had to walk to the mall, and up the alley just behind the mall parking lot. I used to get my haircuts at the mall, just inside the East entrance by the Bashas. We shopped the grocery store as well. The teardrop fountain, the drugstore of sorts where I drooled over the 'Hotwheels sparkling behind locked glass door. I'd get my haircut, then it was my dad's turn and my mother would give me a dollar to go buy one of those shiny new jewels. If my dad's haircut was taking too long, my mother would give me another dollar and I'd run with tears in my eyes for another little piece of heaven. My adventure meeting Wallace and Ladmo in the parking-lot ushering in Santa's arrival by helicoper (adventure best left to one of my journals at my website). I remember the Magnavox entertainment center the family bought in Mahagnians? I can still hear the sound of dishes coming from the diner, and the feel of the brown plastic glasses with my soda when we'd dine there. In 'A Christmas Story (the movie) when the family goes to Higbee's, I remember back to Tri-City and the wonderful feelings of my own youth. I still remember the sounds of the organ the salesman would play from the piano store as I would walk by. Did I have any idea then, that such things would stick with me? Years would pass; I grew older, and the family moved further east in Mesa. Fiesta Mall was the new sensation, and Tri-City was in it's final chapter. A girlfriend of mine worked selling tickets in the remaining department store for the circus that set up in the back parking-lot. I sometimes wish the old malls were treated the same way historic districts are, wishing they could be preserved and newer bigger fancier malls could be discouraged, but it doesn't work that way in a place like the desert, when all one has to do is find another dirt field in the city/desert, and start from scratch. I have many fond memories of Fiesta Mall, but would rather have found them closer to the heart if you know what I mean:)

Sun Aug 01, 03:14:00 PM  
Blogger TmmTx said...

Old post but I have to drop this here. I could walk to Tri-City from my house and I went to school at Webster back in the late 70's early 80's. My mom worked at the pizza place and at the florists in the mall. I used to hang out with the 2nd shift manager at Bashas' with it's all glass front. I so miss the tear drop fountain in front of Penny's. Oh and don't forget when it had a Goldwaters! That's what later became Diamond's if I remember right. Mostly I remember the food court as that's where I'd go after school to meet my mom. The two greek guys that ran the pizza place would always give me a free slice and keep me entertained. Oh tri-city, how I miss you!

Sat Sep 25, 01:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was NEVER a Denny's in the mall! From opening until the early eighties the Coffe Shop next to Diamond's was GOOGY'S an Arizona institution. eventually the Googy's location was sold and became Andros the new owners were from Andros Island in Greece and kept the menu the way it was, and added the best gyros I've ever tasted. Judy our favorite waitress worked at Googy's/Andros, she was a real Professional (what happened to those?) we followed her from Penney's when they closed their Coffee Shop. Haven't thought of her in years what a great gal! She used to bring her little boy to work on his summer breaks and he'd bring us water & menu's I think he was 6 or 7 what a charming child. Ahhh what memories!

Wed Nov 17, 02:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On August 24th 1968, I had my 9th b-day & Tri-City Mall had it's grand opening.We were staying in the old Pioneer Hotel& a week later we moved to a house a block away from TCM.I literally grew up in this place and the memories are indelible. I could draw a fairly accurate floor map of this place from memory. Does anyone remember the massive satellite map of the entire Phoenix area that was on the north wall next to Penneys'? I bought my first album in Penneys (Meet the Beatles-I still have it) and my first suit. Remember Walgreens' grill? Hatchers' Gifts? Pinners' Place, the gameroom where we played foosball? The night we partied all night in the north parking lot waiting for Diamonds' to open so we could buy Rolling Stones tickets? In that Diamonds, they set up for display the first video game(Pong) and my friends & I saw this for the first time high on LSD(not too proud of this, but hey...)That was circa 1975or6. This mall had a productive life of about 20 yrs. and then struggled on, part or mostly empty, for another ten, done in by changing demographics and Fiesta Mall.
Oh and I almost forgot Kresses' just inside the east doors who had the only helium balloon vending machine I've ever seen. For only 25 cents, a group of 10-yr old kids could amuse themselves sucking the helium out their balloons. Sadly, this 5 & 10 only lasted the first couple of years. And who could forget the masturbating dwarf inside the Googys' bathroom? I'm afraid I'm serious on that, folks. Other contributors have reminded me of things long forgotten-the all glass front on Bashas' & the rock & antique shows. I have many more. For better or for worse, this was home for me & many friends for many years.

Tue Dec 28, 02:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A great mall for sure.

I worked at the Radio Shack there from 92-95. By that time, this old mall found itself in a declining neighborhood, yet close to a number of retirement communities. In those times at the Shack we mainly did 2 things. Sold hearing aid batteries and caught thieves trying to steal anything that wasn't bolted down.

As many have reported here, the mall was one long straight hallway. Our store was on the very far end opposite from Pennys. One day a guy came in, wanted to look at the new "cellular" phones. I handed him one to check out and he bolted out the door. I went after him. He didn't leave the store and head toward the outside exit 20 ft. away, instead he ran ALL THE WAY down the mall. I never caught up to him, but as he entered Penny's he couldn't make a turn and went head over tea kettle into a clothing rack. Luckily the one security guard Penny's had on duty just happened to be right there and grabbed him as I shouted from behind.

Despite all its troubles toward the end, I always knew this was once a proud place in service to the community. Its great to read here that this was indeed the case.

This mall will always have a special place in my heart. As this was the location I held my first real "job" while I attended ASU. Tri-city was where I made my first paycheck, started learning how to support my myself, and where I started crafting a work ethic that serves me to this day.

Fri Mar 04, 01:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The coffee shop next to Diamonds was called Guggys. My boy friend then and know my husband worked there in the early 70s. There was a jewelry store at the entrance of the mall called Daniels. That is where we bought our wedding set. oh what memories. We would even shop at a little dress shop called Anita's.

Sun Apr 22, 07:11:00 PM  
Blogger Cindy Farr said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Thu Jul 11, 01:13:00 PM  
Blogger Cindy Farr said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Thu Jul 11, 01:18:00 PM  
Blogger Cindy Farr said...

My Mom and I went there all the time and it was as dead as a doornail. It always seemed like we were the only ones there everytime. Prices were lower there too. My fondest memory was having the Millionaire Pie at Furr's Cafeteria. So To bad an architecturally significant building was destroyed... the Diamonds store exterior too cool and of course the rest of the mall. You were wonderful Tri City Mall...

Thu Jul 11, 01:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Red Dragon was the bomb. I think the owners said they were moving west. It was a buffet with awesome fried egg foo young. Can't find them now. :(

Wed Feb 03, 07:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Michael Stevens said...

I watched tri-city mall being built & watched it being torn done. I went to Webster school next door. A plane crashed in the lot where the mall was eventually built. I worked for Penny's thru high school in the DECA program. I was DECA student of the year my senior year at Westwood. Graduated 1970. The oil waterfall in the lobby was front page news when the mall opened but never really ran well. Clogging up all the time. Just as now us kids all hung out at the mall. Across Main Street was the U OF A experimental farm. Now EVIT. Time is sure of one thing! Everything changes. My father came to Mesa in 1932 &I at his death owned a large portion on P.L. Sale furniture on Robson & Main. It had the first elevator in town. The feed store was directly behind where the Indians tied there horses when they came to town. I remember a lot of history of Mesa having grown up here. The mall came and went just as the wonderful town I have lived in all my life. Woodyzxt at yahoo

Tue Nov 29, 07:24:00 PM  

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