Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Vintage Northwest Plaza ad

St. Ann, Missouri - 1983

Above is a cool 1983 print ad for Northwest Plaza shopping mall, that regular Malls of America contributor, J, came across and scanned for the blog recently. By now you may know J's work well from his great Kentucky malls submissions of recent months (here & here). He continues to send good stuff my way regularly (you'll see more soon), and I really appreciate it! Here's his commentary for this submission:

"Thought I’d get away from Kentucky this time and send an ad I found in a hotel travel book for St. Louis from 1983. I don’t know much about Northwest Plaza, but what I’ve found so far indicates that the Famous-Barr opened in 1966, so I’d assume that was the opening year for the mall. (A newspaper article I found actually puts it at 1964. --Keith)

Jeff mentioned Northwest Plaza in the comments for the Oakbrook post of 8/21 on MOA. An entry about Northwest in the travel book says:

'Northwest Plaza, one of Missouri’s largest shopping centers, is a shopper’s paradise. This extraordinary marketplace is set in 120 acres of parks, plazas, fountains and sculpture.

Northwest Plaza offers 125 stores, including four major department stores: Famous-Barr, J.C. Penney, Sears and Stix, Baer & Fuller, as well as many fashion shops, fine restaurants, and even a 12-story office tower. The shopping center resembles a park with colorful gardens. Northwest Plaza also features one of St. Louis’ most famous water sculptures, Genesis, which was created by Aristides Demetrios of San Francisco.'

I also cropped and added the two photos of the mall from the ad."

Thanks again, J! I'll add that from what I've been able to find online regarding this mall, it was a Westfield-owned property until last June, when they sold this, one of their "nonstrategic properties", to Somera Capital Management LLC. They're currently planning a major facelift for the mall (to read the current redevelopment proposal in PDF form, click here). To read more about the recent sales developments and whatnot, check out the Resource Links below.

Mall history: 1964(?) - present
Developer: Hycel Properties
Current website: n/a
Current aerial view
Resource links: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Previous entries: none


Blogger Cora said...

Ouch, the outfit of that woman in the ice cream parlour is so very 1980s it hurts.

The fountain and that tentlike roof structure are cool, though.

Wed Mar 07, 08:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Bobby said...

Here's a bit of anchor history on this mall:

Current anchors: Dillard's, Family Dollar, Macy's, Sears, Steve & Barry's, 24 Hour Fitness

Former anchors: Burlington Coat Factory - empty
Famous-Barr - now Macy's
JCPenney - now Steve & Barry's
Kids "R" Us - empty
OfficeMax - now 24 Hour Fitness (first mall-based Office Max in chain)
Stix Baer & Fuller - now Dillard's

I'm not sure if the Burlington Coat used to be something else. Anyone know?

Wed Mar 07, 12:57:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Sobieniak said...

Only amused Westfield bothered to own it.

Wed Mar 07, 02:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Jay G said...

I remember Northwest Plaza very well. I grew up St. Louis County in the 50's & 60's. Interestingly, that "Spaceship" shape was used at several malls in St. Louis. If memory serves, it was May Department Stores' Famous Barr that had that space in each of them. Sadly for us all, Westfield's acquistion of just about every mall in the universe resulted in their mass destruction.

Thanks for the's wonderful!

Thu Mar 08, 02:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Bobby said...

Keith, they're owned by General Growth now. Here's the website:

Thu Mar 08, 02:55:00 PM  
Anonymous didi said...

Family Dollar in a beautiful mall look this???

Sat Mar 10, 01:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Bobby said...

It sure doesn't look like that now, I can guarantee...

Sun Mar 11, 12:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello. I would just like to add some more information about this mall. It was an open air "plaza" mall which had sidewalks which linked various stores. In the late eighties it was covered over and enclosed, including more store spaces.
One highlight of the renovation was an underground arcade which was really big. It even had minature golf, complete with a life size Mark Twain wax figure! A movie theater was on the level above the arcade.
Unfortunately, there was a string of gang fights in and around the mall which gave it a bad reputation. So it had been dying a slow death. Who knows what will happen with the renovation.
The history of Northwest Plaza is alot like Crestwood Mall in St Louis. It was also an open air mall, with stores which opened onto the parking lot. It was also enclosed and expanded in the eighties.
With expansion and renovation of two nearby malls, Crestwood has had a hard time competing. It is a Westfield owned property, but it is being negotiated for sale. Again who knows what the future holds for it.

Mon Mar 12, 11:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Bobby said...

Anonymous above, I stated already that General Growth owns the mall now. Westfield sold it in 2006.

I wrote a Wikipedia article on this mall at

Tue Mar 13, 03:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry about the confusion on my comment. I meant to say that Crestwood Mall is currently being negotiated for sale by Westfield.
Last year there was a stir because a company offered to buy Crestwood, and sent letters to the tenants informing them of the sale. This was after Westfield had made statements that they had no intention of selling Crestwood.
Thanks for the link to the NW Plaza article!

Wed Mar 14, 11:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW! Those pics are great! I wish someone would find more photos of Northwest Plaza from the "not enclosed" days. When this mall was not enclosed it had numerous fountains and sculptures and was the ONLY mall I didn't mind getting dragged to as a kid. Other stores that were in this mall: Woolworth's (which closed during the renovation) and later became an Express and Victoria's Secret on the upper level and Phar-Mor (for a VERY brief time) on the lower level, Walgreens, Gap (which closed in 1996... then reopened in 2001... and closed again in 2004). For whomever asked in a previous post what the former Burlington Coat Factory had been in it's prior life, it was an Oshman's SuperSports USA which was built as part of the enclosure/renovation of the late 1980's. Had we St. Louisans known better about what this mall would become after it was enclosed, I doubt we'd all have been so excited about it getting enclosed. It's a shame it's not still enclosed, it would be interesting and differentiated from the rest of the cheesy, crap-tastic "Westfield Shoppingtowns" that are everywhere in St. Louis (as well as the rest of the USA, England, and Australia). Anytime Westfield takes over a center they just ruin it!

Sat Mar 17, 01:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up and still live 1/4 mile from NW Plaza. The Burlington Coat Factory started out as a Boyds. I heard that the "Spaceship" on top of Famous' buildings housed their heating/cooling systems. I walked to and from school thru it. It had a huge fountain with graduating steps that we used to sit on and watch people, between shopping and eating. Sears was the first to open and was there maybe a year before anything else. I don't know of anyone that wanted it enclosed and feel it was the beginning of the end. It's not safe there now. When it was sold, heard they were going to improve the mall. Now hear it may not be a mall for long.

Sun Mar 18, 03:00:00 PM  
Anonymous bobby said...

What was Boyd's? Just wondering.

Was Boyd's original to the mall?

Sun Mar 18, 05:50:00 PM  
Blogger said...

Yes, the sad, bitter irony of Northwest Plaza is that they covered over a perfectly wonderful plaza to become a mall, and now they're getting ready to rip the roof off and try to recapture that plaza feeling.

When it was open air, I knew every nook and stairwell in the place. Once they roofed it, I lost my sense of direction and got lost in the mall every time.

Here's a link to the STL newspaper story about the "retro" remodel, though they don't refer to it as that:

Mon Mar 19, 06:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boyds was an original. It was an upscale apparel store. Hadn't heard about ripping the roof off. I stopped going there after US Factory Outlet left and only went there because they had their own entrance. Heard Walden Books left ... a mall without a bookstore.

Mon Mar 19, 10:40:00 PM  
Anonymous amanda said...

"ice cream so good, I lost my pants!" why is ther yellow track pants laying behind that woman at the ice cream store?

Wed Mar 21, 11:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Jeff said...

As I mentioned in my comment last year about Oak Brook Shopping Center near Chicago, Northwest Plaza was remarkably similar in layout and looks, complete with an almost identical office tower on premises. Man, do I miss the original NW Plaza! I grew up a couple of hours north of metro St. Louis, but NW Plaza was a frequent place for my family to shop on our many visits. I have very early memories of lunches at Pope’s Cafeteria, and The Magic Pan. I even worked in three stores (Chandler’s Shoes, Joan Bari and The Wild Pair Shoes) in the mid eighties, and then came back to manage The Bombay Company store when the New! Enclosed! crappy version reopened, in 1989 I believe. What a mob of people on the ’89 reopening! My store faced the main court in the mall where Chubby Checker performed and Corbin Bernsen made a guest appearance. The crowd was so bad my display windows bowed with the pressure. It was horrible, and of course no one was shopping…

It, of course, is rather ironic that the new plans call for roof removal. Let’s hope that whatever happens brings back the old feel that I miss so much!

Fri Mar 30, 02:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went to this mall in the summer of 1969 and remember a store called "Way In Way Out"! It was pitch black inside with go go girls in glowing neon. Also remember fountians outside of Famous Barr and eating at a cool Cafeteria. Oh the past!

Fri Oct 05, 11:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

I was a kid when Northwest Plaza was built. It used to be a farm. I still live about 10 miles from the Plaza. I was there in Nov 2007 and there isn't anything left. The few stores there, don't have customers. I couldn't find many employees either. Movies are gone,food court has one place. Still has Sears, Macy's. No drug stores, book stores. They should turn it back into a farm. They would make more money.

Thu Dec 20, 12:47:00 PM  
Blogger Sue said...

Anonymous said...
I went to this mall in the summer of 1969 and remember a store called "Way In Way Out"! It was pitch black inside with go go girls in glowing neon. Also remember fountians outside of Famous Barr and eating at a cool Cafeteria. Oh the past!

Fri Oct 05, 11:31:00 PM

You mentioned the store, "Way in Way out" I REMEMBER THAT STORE. Wasn't it inside the Famous? Northwest Plaza used to be so neat!

Wed Feb 13, 07:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That cafeteria was called Popes and closed shortly after another shooting at the once great plaza. i used to play in the main fountain as a kid there :o)

Tue Mar 18, 10:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

there was a store called tall fashions their displays were done by well known display artist ernest barry who did the windows at boyds men's store on olive street in the 60's and early 70's.

Tue Oct 07, 05:45:00 AM  
Blogger Ruralgurl said...

Northwest Plaza..... it was the best "outdoor mall" so very long ago. Beautiful fountains, Christmas lights people drove in just to see, you could buy Levi's at The Gap, concert tickets (and um, "stuff" to take to the concert) at Orange Julius, and the cutest shoes at Candies.

By the time I worked there, it was still pretty, but a shoplifting nightmare. My store had doors that opened to the plaza in the front and to the parking lot in the back. We used to catch the grab-n-runners by secretly locking the parking lot doors then scaring the thieves. They would run for the get-away car on the parking lot and... BAM! Slam smack into the locked doors, fall, drop everything, then try to run for the front, where by the way, the cops were waiting. Good times.

It's sad there now. What a shame.

Tue Jun 16, 10:12:00 PM  

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