Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Century Plaza Mall

Birmingham, Alabama - 1976

A lush court area in the eastern end of Century Plaza Mall in 1976, not long after it had first opened. This image comes courtesy of patriarca12's flickrset (I adjusted the brightness a little for use here, so we could study a bit more detail).

Apparently this shopping mall is just barely hanging on these days. Here's an excerpt from its informative entry at Dead Malls, dated April 23, 2004 (a more recent November, 2006 post paints a similar, if not grimmer, picture):
"The mall was a prototypical 70's dark wood/dark tile/lots of ferns & ficus type structure. It centered around a circular middle, which was home to the India Shoppe (almost a sort of head shop, one could purchase their reggae/alternative/punk t-shirts, incense, bongs, etc. here - and get pierced) and a jewelry store.

In the late 80's the mall was remodeled to resemble every other mall of the time period - skylights, white paint over the wood finish, lighter tiles, etc. Many of the best tenants began to leave - among them B. Dalton, Bookland, Musicland. Not much changed at Century until rather recently."
Mall history: 1975 - present
Current website: here
Current aerial view
Previous entries: none


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I frickin' LOVE this shot.
keep up the fine work, Keith.
Isn't it interesting that with remodelling many of these malls flopped even harder?
I wish they could've just left well enough alone, I mean these are historical, cultural icons/landmarks and should be preserved as such...
oh well, too late now.

Tue Feb 27, 08:12:00 AM  
Blogger BIGMallrat said...

The moody colors of this mall were oh-so classic late Seventies. Truly hip and beautiful at the time. But, also suseptible to changes in color trends much quicker than say, a white-tiled mall. Too bad it's gone downhill.

Tue Feb 27, 03:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Matt said...

I just enjoy shots like this one.

Like 'bigmallrat' stated, it's got 'moody' written all over....the dark tiling, and the way storefront signs and interior lighting provide most of the light for what would otherwise be a dimly lit mall.

Tue Feb 27, 05:03:00 PM  
Blogger Cora said...

Oddly enough, the moody and dark 1970s colour schemes are still what I associate most with the word "mall".

I still remember the first time I was in a "modern" white tiles and skylight type mall and thought, "Uhm, what's this supposed to be then? A mall or a hospital?"

Tue Feb 27, 09:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this shot makes me feel good!

Tue Feb 27, 09:53:00 PM  
Blogger BIGMallrat said...

ha ha!
My first experience with white-on-white tiled malls came with a random scattering of tourquoise and pink tiles. Oh-so Eighties now. Yet, you still see it around. I can't help but to hum the theme to Miami Vice when I see it (I think it comes out more like Night Rider).

Thu Mar 01, 12:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

like the eastfield mall in springfield mass--all has changed

Fri Mar 02, 03:07:00 PM  
Blogger peter b said...


Fri Mar 02, 03:10:00 PM  
Anonymous didi said...

Lush ferns. How can anyone think this was outdated?

I agree wholeheartedly with anonymous. No one should have bothered remodeling. Keeping it in a haze induced time warp would have been much more interesting! But something historical was a code for outdated for the masses.

Mon Mar 05, 10:14:00 PM  
Blogger sagefats said...

This was the greatest mall ever. All dark and brown and earth-tone-y. Eastwood Mall was my parents' mall, but this was my mall. I mean, she had a McDonald's for crying out loud! No food court, just autonomous restaurants & eateries scattered throughout: Morrisons (later Picadilly's), Shoney's, Chick-Fil-A, Orange Julius, KarmelKorn...

Oh, it had an old man's tobacco shop (don't remember the name), and organ/piano store, an Alabama Outdoors - complete with a rustic wooden floor... *tear*

This is a great shot, I would love to find more of CP, pre-remodeling, of course. The refit totally sucked, they way they opened up the center like that. It used to have a center staging/show area on the top level, but underneath, surrounded by a moat (if memory serves) was a circular arrangement of specialty stores like the India Shoppe (a head shop/boutique - not that I'm a hippie or anything, I was just a kid, I didn't know why people were in to incense, I just thought that place was neat, with all it's "tobacco" pipes and whatnot).

As indicated by DeadMalls.com, CP is dying a slow and painful death. I miss her. I'm going to go cry now.

Mon Apr 09, 01:58:00 AM  
Blogger sagefats said...

Well, had a bit of excitement last night at Century. This story is an indicator of just how things are going for the Old Brown Lady, as well as the rest of Birmingham.

From the B'hamNews.com:

Suspect, Birmingham officer exchange fire
Posted by Birmingham News staff April 15, 2007 08:28AM

A Birmingham police officer and a suspect fleeing Century Plaza exchanged gunfire around 9 p.m. Saturday, but no one was injured, police said.

The officer had been called in to assist mall security to assist in pursuing a person, said Officer Hughes of the East Precinct. It is unclear why the person was being pursued.

Hughes said the person fired a gun at the officer, but did not hit the officer. The officer returned fire, but did not hit the person. No one was injured and no arrests were made, Hughes said.

Jeremy Gray

Sun Apr 15, 04:12:00 PM  
Anonymous JayBee said...

I used to drive to this mall in my 1972 VW Beetle. The outside of this mall is all brick and very beautiful. It is sad to see it die but all good things must come to an end. I used to buy clothes at Chess King and Webster's. I bought my parents a washer at Sears and I shopped a lot at the small Rich's Dept. Store and Loveman's. Great memories!

Thu Jan 31, 10:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Frank said...

Has anyone got a picture of the beautiful Christmas scene that was in Century Plaza every December. It was top quality. Pleaee help. Thanks. Frank- fkg412000@yahoo.com

Sun Mar 27, 11:32:00 AM  

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