Sunday, May 21, 2006

Smith Haven Mall

Lake Grove, New York - circa 1970's

Unfortunately this photo isn't the best quality (I'm looking for a better one), but it's a mall I haven't covered here yet so I thought I'd get the ball rolling with it and add it to the archive.

Quality aside, though, I love this picture. The lighting, the mood, and a cool blobby modern art sculpture (commissioned, I believe, from sculpter Alexander Calder) sitting in the fountain or pond there, gives me a lot to dig in this one! And Smith Haven Mall certainly had an interesting opening day in 1969. Sheldon Klotz, who supervised its building by Winston-Muss Inc., relates the following story I found online:
Opening day also presented challenges. "It was a fiasco," Klotz said. A water main break early in the morning cut off water to Smith Haven and led town officials to propose cancelling the grand opening because the sprinkler system and toilets wouldn't work. "I told them, `We can't cancel it. Thousands of people are going to show up and you don't have enough police officers to turn them away,"' he recalled.

Town leaders agreed, allowing Klotz to invite volunteer fire departments to encircle Smith Haven with pumper trucks in return for allowing them to ask shoppers for donations, and to set up bucket brigades to keep the public toilets filled while a work crew fixed the broken water pipe by mid-afternoon."
Wow. The entire article, The Malling of Long Island, is a great read, btw, if you're interested.

Mall history: 1969 - present
Developer: Winston-Muss Inc.
Current website: here
Current aerial view


Blogger Kitten wtw said...

I realize it's modern art but that sculpture makes me giggle!

Sun May 21, 07:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funky sculpture! Is that supposed to be a man's ding-dong? And, yes, Kittenwtw, I'm giggling too! The swinging and pseudo pornigraphic art of the 70s. Gotta love 'em!

Sun May 21, 09:55:00 PM  
Blogger Scott Parsons said...

That sculpture made me blush!

Sun May 21, 10:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone look at the present day website and notice how odd the JCPenney is shaped?

Mon May 22, 01:27:00 AM  
Blogger Scott Parsons said...

Is Penney's in the spaces formally occupied by Merry Go Round and Chess King?
And with an empty anchor pad, too.

Mon May 22, 12:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What IS that thing?! LOL I must say...only in the 1970s.

Thanks for the laugh, Keith!

I'm a fan of the mure subdued mall interiors as I've stated in past posts with malls of this design, and this one hits the nail for me. The neutral color scheme, dim lighting, old store logos, and bright storefronts. I'll pay any amount for a time machine right now.

Mon May 22, 05:50:00 PM  
Blogger Keith said...

Phallic shape? A man's ding-dong?? Hmm, I just thought it was a cool blobby thing. SICKOS!

But seriously, I totally didn't see that before and now that you guys mention it, you're right! LOL. And I hate you for it. Thanks for ruining it for me now.

No, actually, though, know what it kinda looks like to me? The abstract shape (that "modern art" stuff again) of a figure sitting in the pond. Seems like that's what it might be. What do you think?

Or a man's ding-dong.

And, Matt, I'm with ya on the subdued mall interiors thing, brother! And the time machine. I'd leave here in a second and never look back.

Mon May 22, 08:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, Keith, but when I initially saw the sculpture after clicking for a larger image the ding-dong was the FIRST thing that entered my mind. It just looks so much like...well, never mind, you get it now. LMAO!

Mon May 22, 08:23:00 PM  
Blogger Kitten wtw said...

sorry, I have dirty mind...

Mon May 22, 09:08:00 PM  
Blogger Livemalls said...

It's certainly a perky, excited sculpture. LOL

Mon May 22, 11:07:00 PM  
Blogger Keith said...

LOL! You're not helping, Steven.

Didi: Yeah, I guess it's cuz I'm a guy. Had that thing looked like some boobies or something, I'm sure then I'd have noticed it right off! Hehe.

Kitten: Join the club... ;)

Mon May 22, 11:21:00 PM  
Blogger Kitten wtw said...

( . ) ( . ) Dirty Mind Club.

Tue May 23, 05:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just happened upon your site today and when I saw this post I almost fell off my chair.

I spent half my teen years in that mall! I can't believe you have a photo of it.

The internet never ceases to freak me out.

Tue May 23, 06:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was looking at that pic again and I just remembered something. One of my college professors once referred to Smith Haven as "The Shoe Haven Mall."

All these years later, that still makes me giggle because seriously, every other store was a shoe store.

Oh, and I also remembered that when it first opened they had golf carts to drive you from one end to the other because all the stores in the middle weren't open. In those days that was a really exciting thing. :P

Tue May 23, 06:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My family used to call it the "Lake Grove Mall". I remember this mall very well, especially the Abraham and Straus store in the far background of the picture. My mother loved their housewares and domestics. When A&S closed, the site became a Stern's until it ceased operations in 2001. The store is currently vacant.

Tue May 23, 09:39:00 PM  
Blogger PD 🍍 said...

The sculpture had a place the late 60s during the sexual revolution. Today people would sue claiming to be sexually harrassed (then go home and watch MTV)

Wed May 24, 10:50:00 AM  
Blogger Scott Parsons said...

Maybe that's why mall art disappeared. Controversy. Now we are left with boring carpeted seating areas.

Wed May 24, 06:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's so weird to see the mall back in the days. The mall looks so much different now...that fountain doesn't exist anymore actually there aren't any fountains.

And yes, that ambiguous sculpture was a Calder piece along with other sculptures once found around the mall. The most recent remaining sculptures was a tower-like piece in the food court along with weird designs on the walls that were removed last year.

The mall is currently undergoing a major renovation that is long overdue. The former Stern's store was torn down a few months ago and will be replaced by a "Lifestyle Center" featuring Dick's Sporting Goods, The Cheesecake Factory and Barnes & Noble. The interior is also being redone with the ceilings currently gutted for a makeover. I'm excited to see the mall I grew up with change and improve.

Wed May 31, 01:38:00 AM  
Blogger Keith said...

Thanks for the update, Peter!

Denise: Welcome and thanks for the great stories! I'm glad the photo jogged some fun memories for you. :)

Papi: I think you're right! lol

And again, I'll go on record as saying that I feel the sculpture in question--while looking rather suggestive, yes--was actually supposed to be a seated figure. I doubt it was truly something sexual by design. I wouldn't think that anyway...

Thu Jun 01, 10:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, keith, I kind of agree that it may been a figure gazing at the water and wasn't sexual by design. Sad to hear that the sculptures and all the uniqueness is gone. Anyone know what happened to Mr. Happy...err, the sculpture? I wouldn't mind art like that in my living room for purely artistic interior decorating reasons.

Fri Jun 02, 12:57:00 PM  
Blogger loosingmymind said...

Thanks for the laugh and for the memories.....I need to jar the minds of those who, like me grew up walking the mall in the 70's and 80's....Does anyone remember the name of the "head shop" that was located in the very beginning of the mall. It was on the right hand side. I used to like the colored water shows. Remember those? Thanks to those who help me remember.

Wed Feb 07, 12:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That sculpture looks like a huge raging PENIS who else agrees ?

Thu Dec 20, 06:28:00 PM  
Blogger eviechevy said...

This the mall of my childhood! :) I kinda remember the sculpture but I never really pondered its phallic tendencies - I just wanted to get my ears pierced (at Specer Gifts)!
And it's true - half the stores in that mall were shoe stores! or it seemed like it......If I find any random photos from in this mall, I'll send them to you. Thanks for the memories! :)

Wed Mar 05, 06:45:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

There used to be an abstract art thing at Smith Haven Mall. It was hour-glass shaped, made of netting, and rotated around as lights reflected off of it. If anyone has a pic of it, I'd be eternally grateful.

Sat Nov 08, 03:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


as my boyfriend and I are sitting here reflecting on the mall we both grew up in, we were curious to find answers about the "Mall Monster"(if anyone remembers him- please share). we came across your question and wanted to let you know it was different strokes. How fond my boyfriend was of that place- no wonder he remembers :)
Hope you enjoy your memories

Fri Nov 28, 09:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ha the Mall monster used to basically hang out in the gated area outside in the middle of where ruby tuesday's and macys the guy was all haggered looking and had this big brwn coat on with a huge dirty beard.. Occasionally i used to see him outside feeding rats when i was working at red robin, waiting for my dad to pick me up

Fri Dec 26, 02:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yup I remember the mall monster. The rumor was in my HS that he was a rich guy who was just wacked in the head. I also remember "Zappa's Dungeon" - the fire tunnels under the mall where the stoners used to hang out. BTW I have been looking forever for a picture of what the mall used to look like, tyvm.

Fri Apr 24, 10:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to a book I read recently, there used to be a restaurant called Zum Zum's around 1976 or so. Just thought I'd toss that in.

Mon Nov 30, 11:17:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Hello! We would love to hear your fun memories of Different strokes.... below is a link to Different Strokes fanpage on facebook......

Thu Feb 04, 01:55:00 AM  
Anonymous apelseed29 said...

Winston only owned the Mall for a few years when it was sold to Arlan Realty, and the Manager of the Mall decided to stay with Winston rather than go with the new owner. As a result, I temporarily managed the mall until Arlan hired a permanent Manager. As I was the Director of Leasing for Arlan, I was well aware of the rediculus number of shoe stores. After checking their sales figures, I contacted over one third of them and offered to cancel their leases at no charge if they would just move out. Not surprising, they all took me up on the offer, and we re-leased all of the empties with other merchants within a few weeks.

Thu Mar 10, 02:26:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Damn! Cool photo!

I remember this mall looking like this in my youth. In 1977 my friend Jeff and I stood in line for 4 hours to see Darth Vader - the real actor (David Prowse) in the real Darth Vader suit. They sold posters and Vader was signing them, although by the time we got to him his hand had worn out.

The mall was so much more interesting with plants, ponds, and little fountains in the middle rather than those useless kiosks where you can buy your name on a grain of rice.

Seems like all the old stuff was so much better than it is nowadays. Either that, or I'm getting too old. :(
wall decals

Thu Apr 07, 08:17:00 AM  
Blogger David said...

Oh my .... I just read the post about Darth Vader.. and had a flashback... I think I have some old photos of that day... I remember it being near the MCrorys... if this blog is still looking for photos let me know I will check for them..

Thu Jun 02, 03:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Holy crap, I remember the Mall Monster!! We used to screw with him all the time!~ lol
Any one remember when you walked in the front entrance near Sbarros pizza, there was the clear elevator in the center? And the sculpture of the leg right above it within the panel of abstract art? Oh yeah, remember time out! That's where we used to hang out and play asteroids when it first came out!! Good times, good memories. Oh what I wouldn't do for a strawberry julius right now!!

Thu Jun 30, 08:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the sculpture is suppose to be a seal...

Wed Apr 25, 04:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Clancy Kelly said...

The Mall Monster used to seem to be wearing like four pairs of pants and ten shirts. He smelled something awful and people would literally jump out of his way. He was usually carrying a drink cup. This was between 1986 and 1991 for me.

Sun Dec 08, 03:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was never a rich guy. My brother was friends w him before he started to change n after his parents divorced. Lived in s very average neighborhood in Farmingville. Hardly rich living

Sun Nov 08, 06:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My brother n cousin were very good friends w him. Then his parents divorced n another friend told him he didn't want him hanging around. Sad. My brother also started discovering girl had a girlfriend n a job n not a lot of time for baseball. Friendship kind of dissapated. I know my mother liked him. He used to come n visit her but once his parents divorced something happened to him although they did try to get him help. Would love to know what happened to him. The rumor he was rich was untrue. Grew up in Farmingville hardly rich living

Sun Nov 08, 11:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My brother n cousin were very good friends w him. Then his parents divorced n another friend told him he didn't want him hanging around. Sad. My brother also started discovering girl had a girlfriend n a job n not a lot of time for baseball. Friendship kind of dissapated. I know my mother liked him. He used to come n visit her but once his parents divorced something happened to him although they did try to get him help. Would love to know what happened to him. The rumor he was rich was untrue. Grew up in Farmingville hardly rich living

Sun Nov 08, 11:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Different Strokes

Sat Apr 18, 11:09:00 PM  

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