Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Vintage Stanford Shopping Center with F. W. Woolworth's

Here's one for the history buffs. Woolworth's at one of the Bay Area's most chic shopping malls. In fact, Woolworth's survived well into the late Eighties (maybe even the early Nineties). It was the only place one could buy an Aspirin if you had a headache.

The back of the card reads "The Mall of Stanford Shopping Center. Leisurely shopping in ultra modern department stores and a large variety of the best specialty shops. Located on west side of El Camino Real, Calif."

My guess is the picture was taken in the late Fifties to early Sixties.

Read my Guide to Stanford Shopping Center

Visit the current Website.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Fountain in Sunvalley Mall

This picture holds special memories for me. I can remember throwing pennies in the fountain as a kid. The black stonework of the fountain created a dramatic contrast for the various shades of copper and silver coins, sparkling through the water.

The back of the card reads: "Sunvalley Shopping Center. 'Dills and Dandelions' feature dandelions and various other petaled flowers on 40 foot fiberglass stems. These flowered kinetics are rooted in the first level main fountain and shoot through a large airway into the second level Great Hall. They will move and sing when air is blown on them from hidden fans. Six-foot long attractive metal bugs cling to several of the flowers lending a Brobdingnagian atmosphere to the Great Hall."

Your word of the day is "Brobdingnagian," which means "Of or relating to a gigantic person or thing."

The photo must have been taken in the Seventies because the artwork was removed and the fountain downscaled in the early Eighties. In 1985, the fountain was removed to make way for the renovation (prompted by a plane crash).

Read my Guide to Sunvalley mall
Visit the current Website.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Mall at Valley Fair

Here's one for the Way Back Machine. Historic Valley Fair mall, pre-mega-mall upgrade in the late Eighties. This card is postmarked April 23, 1985, but none of the addresses have ZIP codes. So, I really don't know when it was taken.

The back of the card reads "The Mall at Valley Fair, San Jose, Calif. This regional shopping center is one of the outstanding shopping centers serving the greater suburban area. Over 60 specialty stores and a large department store are located here."

Of interest in the foreground is the base of the uniquely tiled smokestack. According to Mike Caroll Jr's History of Valley Fair Center Web site, "it served as an exhaust system for the center's underground shipping and receiving area. Colored with bright mosaic tiles, this structure was an excellent example of 1950's pop art." Of course, it was demolished when the center was redeveloped.

Read my Guide to Westfield Valley Fair mall
Visit the current Website.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Vintage Eastridge Mall with Liberty House

Wow, remember Liberty House and Joseph Magnin?

The back of the card reads "Stores on all three levels can be seen at the same time at the handsome 150-store shopping complex in San Jose. Carpeted ramps and rest areas, escalators, natural light, modern sculpturing, enhance the West Coast's largest and finest regional shopping center."

The date is unknown, but Liberty House closed its California stores in 1984. At this mall, it was replaced by Emporium*Capwell. Once they closed, the pad remained vacant for some time. Eventually, anchor building was knocked down in 2005 to make room for a remodel.

Read my Guide to Eastridge mall
Visit the current Website.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Stanford Shopping Center

This just in from an eBay auction. A vintage postcard showing The Emporium department store at Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto.

The back of the card reads "THE STANFORD SHOPPING CENTER. . .Located on U.S. Highway 101 "El Camino Real" Palo Alto, Calif."

From the looks of the cars in the lot, the card is probably from the late Fifties to early Sixties (no date is printed on the back of the card).

The building still looks fairly similar, although now it's Bloomingdale's.

My favorite part of this card is the giant E that was so common on old Emporiums. The last remnant of any of the E's can only be found in a stain on the ex-Emporium-Capwell building in Almaden Plaza, San Jose.

Read my Guide to Stanford Shopping Center

Monday, May 01, 2006

Beleaguered Blackhawk Plaza Tries Again

Blackhawk Plaza recently announced the signed lease to bring the tony Draeger's Market to the beleaguered mall.
See press release
This is the second time this shopping center has tried an upscale grocery store. You may remember Blackhawk Market, which opened in the early 90s with splashy gold shopping carts that came with mobile phones. However, the practical Safeway soon opened across the street and drove Blackhawk Market out of business. Seems that the rich did not get that way by spending money frivolously on fruits and vegetables. However, Draeger's does have the name and reputation to be able to pull off a successful store. In addition, the cooking school and amenities create a regional draw.

The press release went on to say Draeger's is replacing the Gottschalk’s department store. Apparently, Gottschalk's and Blackhawk Plaza thought this store would go quietly, echoing a series of failures since the inception of the mall. Bad press is sure to ensue with the abundant fodder. Saks Fifth Avenue came and went, a museum extension came and went, and the original Bonwit Teller idea never came to fruition. Only the Automotive Museum, a pet project of Blackhawk developer Ken Behring, remains the mall’s anchor. Some locals, well adjusted to complaining, want retailers that others will look up to, such as Neiman Marcus. However, not only do most locals take their money to the thriving downtown Walnut Creek, Neiman Marcus would never build a store in such a remote location. Like other department stores, it counts on regional traffic, which this mall does not have. Meanwhile, Blackhawk Plaza lives in denial that their concept just is not working. The lushly landscaped mall is stunning, but there are few other reasons to visit repeatedly.

The question now is, will Draeger's help this mall or will it continue the path to additional failures?

Read my Guide to Blackhawk Plaza