Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Attention all shoppers!

Greetings fellow members of the consumer society, and welcome to the experiment that is, MALLS OF AMERICA! A celebration of vintage shopping malls of the '60s and '70s, through pictures, words (a few anyway,) and maybe the occasional sound, too (you'll see).

As a suburban kid growing up in Madison Heights, Michigan, in the 1970's, I certainly saw the insides of our local shopping malls a lot in those days. My family, relatives, and friends all practically lived there, and it was truly a part of the very fabric of life for us back then. Consequently, I now look back very fondly on those days of my youth, being dragged around those cavernous shopping malls and department stores by Mom and Dad, gazing in wonder at all the colorful delights that passed before my young eyes like a dream. It really was like a literal wonderland to my brothers and I! And those are now some of my favorite family memories from childhood.

Nowadays, most of those great old shopping malls are either closed altogether, or at the least, updated and modernized to the point of losing almost all of the charm and character they once had years ago. Shopping malls of the '60s and '70s had an incredible vibe and excitement that they just don't have anymore. And I really miss it. The way they used to be.

So, enter this Blog! This is going to be my virtual time machine to travel back to the glorious retro days of the shopping mall! I've been obsessively collecting vintage mall photographs and postcards the past few years, from wherever I can find them--online sources like ebay and Google, have been particularly useful in this endeavor. Now it's time to share some of my collection with the world! (or at least the 3 or 4 other people out there who might also be weird enough, like me, to appreciate and love this stuff, too)

I promise, if you'll just spend some quality time with each photo, and truly enter its space in your imagination, and hear the Muzak; you'll be transported back to a wonderful, magical time and place, when life, and the world, was much simpler, and malls a whole lot cooler!

A word of warning, though... Like me, you may not want to return.

Lost in Shopper's Paradise,
Keith Milford


Blogger mattbucher said...

Great site. These pics remind me of the mall I grew up going to: Sher-Den mall in Denison, TX. It's gone now, and all I can find are pictures of it's decay:

No interior shots here:

Tue Jun 21, 12:28:00 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

You are doing God's work, my son

Tue Jun 21, 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger mattbucher said...

More pictures of old malls (interiors this time):'s.htm

Too bad they’re not all in color.

Tue Jun 21, 03:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

seriously, you are a genius. i thought i was the only other freak out there obsessed w/ the thought and bizarre draw of old malls. will you devote a section to movie malls -- fast times at ridgemont high, dawn of the dead, blues brothers, weird science -- all have great movie mall scenes from the 70s and 80s.


Tue Jun 21, 05:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. As a military kid I travelled a lot and visited malls from SC to Hawaii. Now malls are soulless hells of money grabbing morons. I loved your pictures. I too love the art deco look of many of the old malls. As a baby boomer we had the glory days of malls, music and clothing (that kids today think they have invented). Love your pictures!

Fri Jun 24, 08:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The coolest mall ever is the mall in Monroeville, Pa, where the Dead movie was filmed. You can still see vestiges of the old 70's there too.

Fri Jun 24, 10:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you imagine the music that would be playing in the stores of these malls? It might sound something like this:

Congratulations on the Boing Boing mention today!

Fri Jun 24, 10:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful! There are so few truly transportative sites on the web such as this. I'll be checking in whenever I need a whiff of nostalgia.

Fri Jun 24, 11:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pompano Beach Fashion Square had MASSIVE chrome starburst chandeliers, I wonder where those went to pretty much every other minute of my waking hours.
I'd estimate they were at least 15' wide and they had at least 3 of them!

Fri Jun 24, 06:00:00 PM  
Blogger FloryDance™ & OdysseyArts™ said...

Cool but spooky; in a time travel, Twilight Zonish sorta way. Everything, including the malls, was cooler in the sixties. Nice site. Great collection... On the dark side, however; it is my personal belief that the entire mall concept/philosophy (globalized developer's and seller's dream) has helped to destroy America. So I have a hard time celebrating the beginning of the end.

Sat Jun 25, 01:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very good, but having actually been there at a couple of those places during those times, I think some of the pics could stand some color correction for age and media inadequacy. I'd be nice if there were some sort of color standard like the Mars Exploration Rovers use. Those "butterscotch" tones aren't quite right.

Still, it's nice to see them documented!
What a strange time!


Sat Jun 25, 02:22:00 AM  
Blogger Keith said...

Hey gang! Thanks to everyone for all the nice comments, suggestions, and picture links (Matt) you've posted above. I really appreciate it! :) I'll quickly try to touch on everything I'm behind in in this thread here...

Tamron: As you can see, no, you're not the only freak out there. Heh. And yes, a "movie malls" series is on my to-do list!

Mike: I plan to showcase those Oddio tracks sometime. You're reading my mind. And thanks for the congrats on the Boing Boing mention! Lots to catch up on here suddenly. :) Oh, and your Tulsa TV site rocks! (and I'm from Detroit)

Christopher: I understand what you're getting at (the Dark Side thing), but allow me to clarify that what I am more focusing on with this blog, is really the whole aesthetic quality; the look, atmosphere, and vibe of the old shopping malls. That's the point. Thankfully, my childhood mall memories (the blog's inspiration) aren't shrouded at all with anything as complicated or "dark" as the points you make (valid though they may be). I bring no such baggage here--just some great memories. :)

Sean Casey: I could very easily color correct all these photos and postcards to more realistic or natural hues, but that would defeat the purpose! The wacky colors and sickly off-tones commonly inherent in vintage pics and postcards, actually help filter those misty childhood memories perfectly for me (happy accident). I like my butterscotch tones. :) I think they do sort of help--unintentional as it may be--capture the spirit and feeling I'm trying to get across with this collective. It's all part of the magic. It's our filter. Can't take that away.

Sat Jun 25, 04:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great blog Keith! I work at Lenox Square in Atlanta and we have two old postcards from when the mall was open air (circa 1959) under the glass at our cashwrap. Views of the mall before the soul was sucked out of it...Invariably the response of customers is "Wow, look how cool the mall looked back then!"
Glad to see that someone else is intrigued by those old shots

Sat Jun 25, 10:53:00 AM  
Blogger Keith said...

Thanks, Calvin. I do have a few Lenox shots I'll post here soon, so check back every now and then.

My feeling is that many people, who only know their local malls in their current generic "modernized" state, would be pleasantly surprised (in some cases, horrified, yes) to discover what their malls looked like back in their retro-rocking heydays! It's a real eye-opener for a lot of people who never knew their boring old mall ever looked so swanky-cool at one point. :)

Sun Jun 26, 05:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

cool collection. HOw about including Gulfgate Mall in Houston -- the first air conditioned mall.

Mon Jun 27, 11:42:00 AM  
Blogger Keith said...

Gulfgate photos will definitely grace the gallery soon.

That was the very first air conditioned mall anywhere? Or just the first in Texas?

Mon Jun 27, 09:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where is the ORIGINAL mall in Cherry Hill, NJ

Thu Jun 30, 05:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

do you have the Treasury Department Stores of the 70's, the Akron, Zody's Bullocks, the Broadway, Neiman Marcus, Bullocks Wilshire, Robinson's, the May Co. and all the banks Crocker Bank

Sun May 25, 12:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful site, thoroughly enjoyed each pic. I have been fascinated by retro malls ever since I can remember. Each is a piece of art in itself, and represents a time when so many people had interesting imaginations. I too wish I could step back in time. There is a mall in Corpus Christi, TX called Sunrise Mall that is an 80s time capsule. The incredible fountains were actually operating the last time I was there. Thank you for sharing your collection.

Tue Jun 29, 02:39:00 PM  

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