Monday, March 05, 2007

Macy's Valley Fair Shopping Center

San Jose, California - circa 1957

Feast your eyes on this wonderful aerial photo of the Macy's rooftop fair (or carnival) at the Valley Fair Shopping Center back in the swanktastic 1950s! My thanks go out to an MOA reader who wishes to remain anonymous for this, and other, recent submissions for the blog. You know who you are and I really appreciate it! :)

Here's some background history on Valley Fair's rooftop "fair", courtesy of a great website maintained by Mike Carroll Jr. Productions:
"Seven carnival type rides, included a merry-go-round, small train and a 40 foot Ferris Wheel soon began to appear. A familiar icon, the giant Ferris Wheel could be seen several blocks away as it peered over the walls of the department store. Macy's Sky Terrace Cafe, located along the edge of the deck, offered shoppers a coffee shop type diner. Tables with colorful umbrellas lined the outside of the eatery. Patrons could look out and watch their children play on the 'Sky Rides'.

Various events were held on the roof deck. Small children would often partake in fashion shows, after which Macy's personal allowed them free access to the amusement center. According to a 1956 San Jose Mercury News article, during the Christmas that year, a Santa Claus was lowered onto the roof deck from a helicopter to greet the children.

San Francisco's Emporium gave Valley Fair the idea for the carnival, according a center manager who had been there since 1958. He said that shortly before he came on board, the rides were removed because it wasn't making enough money. The San Jose Mercury News ran their last ad for the fair during the Christmas season of 1957.

After the rides were removed, the cafe and roof deck were blocked off from the general public and used as a break area for Macy's employees. Around 1963, a second floor was added to the store as originally planned."
Mall history: 1956 - 1986
Developer: R. H. May & Co. Inc.
Current website: here (redeveloped)
Current aerial view
Info from Wikipedia
Resource links: 1, 2, 3
Previous entries: 1, 2


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That rooftop carnival is certainly a lot of fun. I reminds me of the Christmas Carnival that the Emporium used to have on the roof of their downtown San Francisco store. I think that one was up 6 or 7 floors and had great views of the city!

Mon Mar 05, 02:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too bad it did not last beyond 1958!

Mon Mar 05, 10:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


We couldn't believe it when they took that fair down, a sad day for many kids in the valley.

Unfortunately, this probably wouldn't work today, if Macy's decided to remove their second floor and bring it back. Westfield Oakridge (South San Jose) has tried putting a fair in their parking lot, but it seldom attracts the crowd that VF did in the fifties. People are too much in a hurry to smell the roses (or cotton candy). Guess it's just a sign of the times.

Mike Carroll

Wed Mar 14, 10:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The rooftop carnival was apparently the brainstorm of William H. Meyer, who brought the first one to downtown San Francisco's Emporium Department store in the late 1940's. Meyer ran successful amusement parks in southern California during WWII. According to a 1960 Billboard Magazine, a William H. Meyer was appointed general manager to the upcoming Frontier Village Amusement Park. Curious minds would like to know if this is the same Meyer and that if Valley Fair's Ferris wheel ended up at Frontier Village.

Mike Carroll

Mon May 03, 11:53:00 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

Was there ever a roller coaster up here?

Sat May 14, 12:46:00 AM  
Blogger Guna said...

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Tue Nov 07, 06:41:00 AM  

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