Saturday, September 23, 2006

Southland Mall

Hayward, California - circa 1960s

By request (this is the only one I currently have, Dean), here's an aerial postcard shot of Southland Mall back in the '60s (or Southland Shopping Center, as it was called in its early years).

Sadly, comments about this mall's current state are sure not very kind online (see resource link #4 below for just one example I came across). Sounds a little rough these days. It's just plain sad that so many once-great, vibrant, family-friendly shopping malls eventually come to this, where a family can't even feel safe going there anymore (if what people are saying online is true). Be nice to turn back the clock, wouldn't it?

Mall history: 1964 - present
Architect: John Graham & Company
Current website: here
Current aerial view
Resource articles: 1, 2, 3, 4
Previous entries: none


Blogger BIGMallrat said...

Wow... speak of the devil (and thanks for the link!).
This is a GREAT photo... pre-expansion to Liberty House. I've never seen it before.
Gerob and I were just talking about Southland in particular (see my blog with the Southland Mall directory for the juicy details). He's a friggin encyclopedia on this shopping center! :)
In Southland's defense, there have been some problems in the past, but malls are magnets for problems anyway. For the most part, it's a family mall with lots of strollers and the like. I don't think anyone feels unsafe shopping there. Security is pretty tight (my friend's dad is a security guard there). I even felt nervous taking pictures (I've been booted from another mall recently--yes, I was branded a TERRORIST... in Prada (biotch!)).

Sat Sep 23, 11:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Steven Wilson said...

I don't know the details of the history of Southland, but it, too, is a former Taubman. I've never been inside, but the most memorable thing about Southland for me was the graceful, elegant, tall freeway sign along Interstate 880. That sign is defunct now. Anyone have photos of the old Southland freeway sign?

Sun Sep 24, 12:53:00 AM  
Anonymous dean said...

Thanks for the awesome photo!! I never realized how huge the Sears store is, (though I had a good idea). You can even make out on the upper left corner of the store, the huge "Sears" logo in green neon script. The canopy that connected the main store to the former garden center can also be seen. You can still drive under it to this day.

It's also interesting to see the undeveloped western end of the mall to the right of the photo. It's where they extended the mall to a new Liberty House department store. The new extension was built in the style of Taubman's ultramodern malls from the 70's, though retained some of the character from the existing mall. In true 70's mall style, the addition included a skating rink.

I've never felt unsafe shopping at Southland. It's an incredibly busy place.

Sun Sep 24, 01:07:00 AM  
Blogger Cora said...

Looking at the comment on the link Keith posted, I wonder whether the dislike for this mall and its supposed "ghetto" reputation is just due to racism or whether it truly is a dangerous place. Especially as several commenters' main problem seemed to be that the selection, including Lacoste, wasn't upscale enough. Well, I don't know about the universe these people inhabit, but in mine Lacoste is upscale.

Sun Sep 24, 04:32:00 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Keith, please post some photos of Monroeville Mall soon (not stills from the movie)! I'm still waiting to see what you can dig up from your collection! :)

Keep up the good work!

Sun Sep 24, 08:54:00 PM  
Anonymous dean said...

I just realized that Southland was designed by John Graham & Co. Didn't he also design Northgate mall in Seattle and the Space Needle? That and being one of the first malls developed by Taubman, I never realized that our local mall here had such big connections.

Sun Sep 24, 09:51:00 PM  
Blogger BIGMallrat said...

Cora... You bring a valid point. Some people don't like Southland because Hispanics and Blacks shop there. Yelp really sucks sometimes because some opinions are just discriminatory.
Using the term "ghetto" really does turn one off, doesn't it? Especially when you attempt to define it.
In fact, Southland isn't in a ghetto. Sure, there is a diverse crowd who all get along, for the most part. But, bring in someone from White-only-ville and it's a shocker!! (Even here in the Bay Area.) Not to mention, the mall isn't brand-new looking and all earth-toned stucco.
I abandoning the posting of shopper reviews on my Website because I primarily would get two types of reviews: The first would be in regard to the people. The second is the selection of stores. Discrimination isn't acceptable and commerce isn't a democracy. No point going further.
So here's to Southland and diversity!

Mon Sep 25, 01:36:00 PM  
Blogger hushpuppy said...

I grew up in San Francisco in the 60's and 70's and seriously doubt that the 'ghetto' comments are the result of racism. Most Bay Area residents are extremely acccepting of races and orientations other than their own (my personal theory is that, unlike LA, we were jammed into such a tight geographical space that we're forced to get along with each other rather than to move farther out). Northern Californians are politically liberal and, IMHO, unlikly to make a comment on the 'ghetto' nature of a mall unless it's really true.

Now, he said, stepping off his soapbox, Southland was never an up-market shopping center. Liberty House opened in 1972 and never did very well, selling out to Emporium-Capwell less than a decade later (even before Amfac pulled the plug on all of Liberty House's mainland operation in 1984). This resulted in the closing of Capwell's 1957-era store on Foothill Blvd in downtown Hayward. The Southland store became a Macy's in 1996 after Federated bought Emporium's parent company, Broadway Stores.

At the time Liberty House opened, the parent company, Amfac, also owned Joseph Magnin, a very trendy clothing store for career gals (yes, that's what they called themselves back then). Whether to bolster Liberty House, help Taubman upgrade the image of Southland, or whatever, they opened a JM store in the mall, just outside Liberty House. But that store didn't do well either and closed a few years later.

Mon Sep 25, 02:05:00 PM  
Anonymous dean said...

I remember that JM store. It had a minimalist presence: a huge wall of white with a gigantic "JM" next to the entrance. It fit in well with the modern Taubman extension to the mall. Unfortunately, it didn't fit in well with the middle-class demographics of the area.

Another bonus at JM was the carpet. One could really work up a good charge by dragging one's feet across it -- really sent sparks flying. It came in handy when mom and older sisters were lingering too long, looking at dresses. ;)

I think the former JM space is where Mervyns is now.

Mon Sep 25, 02:47:00 PM  
Blogger BIGMallrat said...

Southland had a JM? Once, we got stuck in the elvator of a JM and I still don't know which JM it was. I think the Mervyn's building is new. The 1986 directories and aerial I have don't have it.
Was the store JM two-stories? It would answer an age-old question.

Hushpuppy, I didn't mean to imply the term ghetto is used maliciously. But, neither another one I hear often: "that's so gay!" If an group finds it offensive, it isn't appropriate for an unknown audience.
If you look at the Yahoo Local user reviews for Great Mall in Milpitas, you'll see that someone described everyone in the mall as "poor" and that it was "the ghetto." I'd bet it was written by an ignorant 14 year old or similar, but you'd have to question why that person even wrote that. After all, Milpitas is quite wealthy, but predominately asian.
For me, if it's even questionable, it's best avoided.

Mon Sep 25, 03:58:00 PM  
Anonymous dean said...

From what I remember, the Joseph Magnin store at Southland was one story with entrances on the mall and the parking lot. I can't say for sure that Mervyn's is in the exact same location.

To create Mervyn's, they used the typical single-story mall store space as a means to get to the new two-story section they built beyond it. You can easily see the transition point where they have a big expansion joint between the new and old buildings.

Mon Sep 25, 06:38:00 PM  
Blogger Keith said...

Well, there definitely is some downbeat buzz and opinion about this mall online (I have a friend there who coroborates the idiotic punks who walk around, inside and out, and cause trouble--in his experience anyway--and he also says the place could use some fix-up and that he doesn't like to go there much anymore), but hey, it really depends on your own perspective and experience in the end. Not everyone will have the same outlook.

Lamenting the negative opinions I was seeing about Southland (and those weren't the only ones I found), was more to make the point that it IS just plain sad when our favorite malls in general, go down hill from the glory they once had (we all have our own local examples).

I certainly don't endorse any of the "ghetto" comments on that one review site, nor any other similar nonsense, and was just reporting the opinions I was readily seeing out there re: this mall. And those rather negative reviews were there, front and center in my searches, unfortunately, so I thought I had to mention it. I also did a Google News search on this mall and quickly found several rather alarming, recent crime stories that took place there, so thought, hmmm, this buzz (about it being unsafe) might have some truth to it, at least in that context.

But really, the MAIN point was, hey, isn't this a cool vintage mall photo? Period. :)

Mon Sep 25, 07:18:00 PM  
Anonymous didi said...

I'd have to agree with Keith everyone has a different perspective of the way they see things and reading that message board linked made me want to cringe. I was thinking that they had to be a bunch of immature twelve year olds behind those screens because they really had zero facts to back anything they said up. It was just a language based on the words ghetto and inexpensive stores not to their liking.

Personally I have never been here so I don't know the basics but the more balanced stuff I have read tells me that it's your typical working class mall. When I was younger I used to visit malls that had the "ghetto" label mainly the Brickyard in Chicago. Everyone described this mall as being such and a dangerous place to go. Meanwhile, I would go and found nothing of the sort and usually had no problem going alone.

Mon Sep 25, 09:05:00 PM  
Blogger BIGMallrat said...

Well said.

Tue Sep 26, 05:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Michael Manning said...

The mall picture is cool. I remember going there as a kid. I 'love' the new mall website. No pictures. The mall is a hangout for some unsavory but I have never had a problem visiting with my wife and kids.

Tue Oct 10, 06:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Binner said...

I live in MN now but grew up in San Lorenzo in the 70's, so I spent a lot of time at Southland. For some reason, I was reminiscing about it today. Remember the huge Bird Cage that was in the middle of the mall outside Woolworth? I remember playing video games in the lower level where the food court is now (Lemmons Speedway?), my first time ice skating at the rink, checking out the latest Atari games at Sears, buying ice cream cones at Woolworth (right in the mall entrance)and picking up some fish in basement of Woolworth. Remember the mall sitting area that was a few steps down and had those black leather like built in chairs? How about the movie theater? I saw my first movie there (the Cat From Outerspace). Anyway, it's fun to think about these things and I wish I could take a step back in time to visit again. I'd love to see any old photos it anyone came across some.

Tue Dec 12, 03:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's a "secret" mall underneath. Next to the food court, there's basically another mall with store fronts, an old common elevator and stairs that go up to the ceiling. I walked through it with a security buddy of mine, and it basically looks like one day everyone just left. Theres still time cards, sale papers, schedules, the stores. Anyone know what this was? and why they just built over it?

Tue Apr 08, 10:42:00 PM  
Blogger skunkus said...

I do know there was Le Mans Peedway Bumper cars and arcade down there back in the 70's.

Thu Nov 17, 07:44:00 PM  
Blogger skunkus said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Thu Nov 17, 07:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not sure if anyone remembers this particular store at Southland Mall. I think it was a childrens clothing store that had a play structure that had a slide and tv and there was also a hole/crawl space on the side of the entrance...My fave store as a kid.

Tue Apr 16, 12:41:00 AM  

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