Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Montclair Plaza Colonial Christmas

Montclair, California - 1975

In 1975 it was a Colonial Christmas at Montclair Plaza Mall! Whatever that means.

Well actually, I guess we have some clues in the copy at the bottom of this vintage newspaper ad, where it says the following (in case you can't make it out):
"Santa arrives on Friday morning November 28th at 11 a.m. to spend a Colonial Christmas at Montclair Plaza. Be on hand to welcome him as he arrives in his stagecoach accompanied by special Colonial guards. See the beautiful trees decorated by our local schools in keeping with the Colonial Christmas theme. George and Martha won't be with us for this occasion...but we sure hope you will be. Happy Holidaye!"
And yes, they spell it "holidaye" in this ad. I guess that's Colonial and stuff, which I'm thinking might have been the theme of this mall (opened in 1968) at the time perhaps?

But anyway, this kind of thing is why shopping malls were so much cooler back in the good old days. (Btw, a more proper and detailed Montclair Plaza entry will be forthcoming soon.)


Anonymous Jeff said...

Ooh, I cant wait to talk about Montclair Plaza.

Originally outdoors, with May Co, JCPenney (it had the old logo until the 90's) and The Broadway.

2nd level, Nordstrom and Sears came in the 80's.
Robinsons-May in 1993
Broadway became Macys in 1996.
Macys moved to Robinsons-May store in 2006.

and more!

Wed Dec 20, 11:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "Colonial" theme was most likely in honor of the Bicentennial the next year. Everyone and everything went Bicentennial-happy for a couple of years.

Wed Dec 20, 03:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm, but I do think this mall was actually going with a kind of colonial motif for a while aside from the Bicentennial thing(?). Sounds awful familiar. Unless I'm thinking of another mall in the area.

Either way that's a great holiday shot!

Wed Dec 20, 04:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As far as I know it was built in 1968 and was always indoors. It opened with a 2 level May Company on the west end, a 2 level JC Penney in the middle, and a 3 level Broadway on the east end. The original mall was very typical of its time. I don't remember if it had skylights then but I'd wager to say no.

In 1984 the mall began an incredible transformation into a very 80s-modern center. I remember seeing ridiculously large cranes hoisting the huge support beams that would make up the new second level. Amazingly the mall was open during the entire expansion. IIRC this occured from November 1984 to the grand reopening on October 25, 1985.

The mall was quite a showpiece with its black and white checkered floors, beautiful fountains, palms, glass pyramids in the center and food court, geometric pastel banners, NEON hamburgers and hot dogs above the food court, and ULTRA 80s elevator (shades of Horton Plaza). Enhancing the look was the fact that the second story was elevated about 30 feet above the first. As a result of this the 2nd level entrances to the JC Penney and the Broadway were about 10 feet lower than the new structure. The Broadway had a very cool mini-escalator to solve this problem while the JC Penney had stairs and a bizarre ramp. The new center bared almost no resemblance to the original 1968 mall.

The Sears opened with the rest of the mall in October 1985. This replaced a 1950s era Sears in the struggling Indian Hill Mall in nearby Pomona. This Sears is one of the few specifically-designed 3 level Sears in California. It was also another showpiece and is housed in a very handsome building that is probably the best looking Sears I've ever come across.

The Nordstrom opened up around April/May 1986. It is unique in that it has its own parking garage beneath the entire store. This is another gorgeous building.

Sadly many of the elements that made the 1985 remodel so exciting have vanished. The fountains were paved over about 5 years ago to facilitate kiosks. The banners have been missing for over 10 years. The neon hamburgers... sadly gone. The Broadway building now sits empty waiting to be bulldozed sometime next month. There is talk of a major renovation coming by 2008.


Sat Dec 23, 05:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was there on opening day in 1968. It was always enclosed. I don't remember any skylights in the original 1968 building. It was always a dark, cool cave and an oasis during those hot inland empire summers.

Wed Nov 07, 01:45:00 PM  
Blogger A. A. Anderson said...

Does anyone have a digital image of the plaza before the second level was added. I teach economics to high school students in the local area who do not believe the plaza was once a single story complex.

Thu Dec 06, 02:29:00 PM  
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