Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sharpstown Center (aka Sharpstown Mall)

Houston, Texas - July, 1967

nterior photo of Sharpstown Center (or Sharpstown Mall), taken in July of 1967. Here's some past and more recent history from its Wikipedia entry:
"This is the second mall to be built in Houston after Gulfgate Mall opened in 1956. Sharpstown Center was the first air-conditioned, enclosed shopping mall in the Houston area. Because it was Houston's first air conditioned mall, many Houston residents residing in the central part of the city wanted to experience the 'mall of the future.'

In the early-1980s, a second floor was added and the mall extensively renovated from its original 1950s appearance. In the mid-1990s, the mall was branded as the 'Sharpstown Center.' In 1998, neighboring Westwood Mall with the area's Dillard's and Sears stores closed. National tenants have left Sharpstown Center in droves since the opening of First Colony Mall in nearby Sugar Land, and the mall is now nearly 25 percent vacant."
Mall history: 1961 - present
Developer: Frank Sharp
Current website: here
Current aerial view
Info from Wikipedia
Previous entries: none

(study image courtesy of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries)

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Mall Sign: Haltom Plaza Shopping Center

Haltom City, Texas

Close-up detail of the neon lettering on the entrance sign at Haltom Plaza shopping center. Never heard of this shopping center, never seen it before, but I sure like their sign. This recently-shot image is courtesy of Earthly Possessions' photos on Flickr, and there's also a wider view of the whole sign here. From what I can gather, the Haltom Plaza shopping center itself, dates back to the 1950s, as does its beautiful sign.

See more mall signs here!

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Retro Mall Video: NorthPark Mall Psychedelic Dance Show

Dallas, Texas - January, 1968

Why is a clip of a vintage Texas television dance show here? Ah patience, young Grasshopper, patience... It's here because it was shot in and broadcast from, the NorthPark Center Mall, in Dallas!

Local Dallas TV station, WFAA-TV, Channel 8, had a studio that was housed inside NorthPark Mall, where they shot the daily "Sump'N Else" teen dance show, which ran in the mid to late '60s. They also produced a morning game show for housewives called "Away We Go", that was shot live from the mall as well.

Anyway, in this context, I thought this groovy video highlight from the Sump'N Else Show (where they were staging a psychedelic light show that day) would be fun to look at here on the blog. Even though you don't technically see any of the shopping mall proper itself, we know it's there, in all its 1968 glory, right outside the studio walls! :)

More NorthPark Center Mall: 1, 2

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Daily Mall Reader: Big Town Mall Coming Down

A daily dose of mall-related reading...

"Mall was 'the place to be'"
Long past its prime, Big Town coming down in Mesquite

The Dallas Morning News - Friday, July 28, 2006

(Excerpt) MESQUITE – Big Town was big news.

The first enclosed and air-conditioned shopping mall in the Southwest, the 77 ½-acre "City of Shops," drew crowds too big to count when it opened on a Thursday in late February 1959.

The Mesquite icon boasted not only a shopping utopia, but a small amusement park and a cartoon theater for kids. The Dallas Morning News ran a 24-page section on the opening, making that day's edition the largest weekday publication of the newspaper to date.

But through the decades, the crowds that once formed human traffic jams thinned to clusters of bargain shoppers and strings of mall walkers. Eventually, it attracted more folks thrilled to sneak inside an abandoned mall for snapshots of its morgue-like corridors than consumers ready to open their wallets at the remaining stores. When demolition crews began knocking down the peripheral walls late last week, it was a formality for a destination long ago declared dead.

Read the full article here.

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Mall Sign: Big Town Mall

Mesquite, Texas

Not the shopping center's original classic sign (which you can see in another post here), but still quite a bold and distinctive one that I kind of dig, as it sits here at the then-abandoned, now-demolished Big Town Mall (pic courtesy of this blog). I enjoy seeing Montgomery Ward listed there as well. I'm not sure when the mall switched to this particular signage design--probably sometime in the 1980s, I'm guessing. A few Big Town Mall Wikipedia notes:
"Big Town Mall was constructed in 1959 and was the first enclosed, air-conditioned shopping mall in the Southwest. Some of the surrounding facilities included Bowlanes, A&R Course, Horse and Rider, an Exhibition hall, and a half price shoe store. At one time up to three major chain stores such as JC Penney, Sanger-Harris, and Neiman Marcus were part of the complex. The attached Woolworths was also quite popular due to its sizable inventory and food court.

This once popular spot in Mesquite that housed department stores, retail shops, an early form of arcade, and even a movie theater, has since become a derelict building after Montgomery Ward went bankrupt in 2001 and Town East Mall had long since become the new 'hotspot' for local and national retailers. For several years the mall stayed active with privately owned shops targeting urban young."
Mall history: 1959 - 2006 (dead)
Developer: Gerri Von Frelick
Current aerial view
Info from Wikipedia
Resource articles: 1, 2, 3, 4
Previous entries: 1, 2

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Friday, June 01, 2007

San Antonio River Walk Shopping, '70s style

San Antonio, Texas - photos 1971

Not an indoor shopping mall here, obviously, but rather, a famous and historical outdoor pedestrian shopping center (among other attractions and services) located in quite a unique setting--along the winding San Antonio River! This is River Walk (aka Paseo del Rio), in downtown San Antonio. If you're interested, you can read all about its history from the various resource links I've provided at the end of this entry. I mainly just wanted to share these pretty pictures. :)

The photos and selected quotes and captions in this post were kindly provided by Jay (thanks again!), and come from an article titled “San Antonio Renaissance on the River”, from an April 1971 copy of Southern Living Magazine. The caption for the first photo above reads: “Brightly colored barges carry passengers beside the Starving Artist Show”, and the following content is all from the same article as well...

Once abused and ticketed for a bed in oblivion, the San Antonio River is now a ‘movable feast’ of flowers and trees and shops. Today it not only flows, it swings.

It took time and careful planning to create the foreign, garden atmosphere of the river.

The shopping is as superb as it is varied: it’s mod, mad, Mexican, modish. There is even a high-style ladies’ emporium in the ultramodern Hilton Palacio del Rio, where the chic-minded can browse among the body furnishings with a full view of the river through a two-story sheet of bronzed glass.

The San Antonio River slips romantically along the tree-shaded walkways of El Paseo del Rio.

In 1962, before the river renaissance, 1 1/2 million visitors came to San Antonio; for 1971, the estimate is not less than 6 million."

Official website: here
Current aerial view
Resource links: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

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Town & Country Shopping Center construction

Fort Worth, Texas - 1958

Aerial photo of the Town & Country Shopping Center as it looked under construction in 1958. An interesting and raw look at the early stages of a shopping center's development (compare this with the finished, modern aerial view).

Can't find much background on this Town & Country Shopping Center, but it appears it's still around today. I've linked to a current aerial below, and do see some passing references to it being made on Google here and there. Don't see an official website or anything much in the way of solid historical info, so if anyone else out there is familiar with this shopping center I'd appreciate a few details. I'm mainly wondering what year it opened, and also, what its current retail health is like these days--assuming it still has some.

Mall history: n/a
Current website: n/a
Current aerial view
Previous entries: none

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Retro Mall Video: New Urbanism - Sprawl Retail Lecture

"San Antonio By Design" Seminar (1991)

Architect and and urban planner, Andrés Duany, conducts a lecture on suburban sprawl, and retail planning/development, in San Antonio, Texas. While some of the focus does center on the San Antonio area, much of the overall message is universal and readily applicable anywhere. Personally, while a tad on the technical side at times (for a layman like me anyway), I found this talk fascinating, and gained some new perspective from it--especially on the retail planning end, which Duany covers in depth (shopping center planning and such). From the video description:
"This 1991 slide show and lecture was given to attendees in San Antonio and is a variation of Andres Duany's very popular and well-received presentation that he gave to universities, architectural conventions, urban planning groups and anybody who would listen to him."
Note: Just to get us started I'm hosting part one here on MOA, but there's 9 segments in all, so after you watch the first one, simply click here to go to the playlist for the rest on YouTube. Hope some of you find it as interesting as I did!

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

NorthPark Center (aka NorthPark Shopping Center)

Dallas, Texas - photos circa 1960s

Malls of America regular contributor, J, sent me these scans a while back (from the pages of a '60s-era Encyclopedia Britannica) of NorthPark Center Mall in Dallas, TX (commonly referred to as NorthPark Shopping Center in those days). Thanks again for the great submissions J!

The first photo is a shot of the Plaza fountain in one wing of the mall (which you can also see here in color). The second shot is obviously an exterior view of one of the mall's parking lot areas and store entrances. Some Wikipedia notes:
"NorthPark Center opened in 1965 as the largest climate-controlled retail establishment in the world. Originally developed by Raymond D. Nasher, the center is now owned, managed, operated and leased by husband and wife David J. Haemisegger and Nancy A. Nasher. After a three-year, $235 million expansion that doubled its size, NorthPark Center is expected to surpass $1 billion in sales in 2007.

From its inception, NorthPark Center has made world-class art an integral part of its interior landscape. NorthPark received the American Institute of Architects Award for 'Design of the Decade - 1960s' as one of the first commercial centers in the United States to create space for the display of fine art.

Over the years as NorthPark Center has remained true to its original design. For the most recent expansion, NorthPark’s owners returned to Omniplan, the architectural firm that originally designed the center with clean, modern lines, signature white brick and highly polished concrete floors. The expansion turned NorthPark’s original U shape into a unique square design surrounding a 1.4-acre landscaped garden known as 'CenterPark'."
Mall history: 1965 - present
Developer: Raymond Nasher
Current website: here
Current aerial view
Info from Wikipedia
Previous entries: 1, 2, 3

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

'70s Decor of Windsor Park Mall

San Antonio, Texas - 1976

intage newspaper article (courtesy of Coddat on Webshots) detailing the swanky interior design and decor of the then newly-opened, Windsor Park Mall, in Northeast San Antonio, which is gone now (the mall, not San Antonio). This is a nice glimpse into the natural, earthy shopping mall design aesthetics of the seventies.
"A natural decor with lots of wood, lush green plants and limestone brick sets of the interior of Windsor Park Mall.

The use of 'natural' materials helps to make the mall a 'warm and friendly place, where people can be comfortable."
Also see this: Windsor Park Mall - "The Final Call"

Mall history: 1976 - 2005 (dead)
Reference links: 1
Previous entries: 1

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