Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Kaiser Center Mall

This vintage newspaper clipping is from August 3, 1966. This little piece of history not only has an article about Grodins opening a new location in the Kaiser Center Mall in Oakland, but there also is an advertisement for Dorothy's also opening in Kaiser Center, too.
According to the article, Grodins will be the first major store to open in downtown Oakland since 1960.
I'm fairly certain this shopping center is no more. The building is still there, but there is no trace of a shopping center.
This is one mall that I have absolutely no memories. I hope someone out there in blog-land can shed some light or share their memories!

Oakland Tribune (1966, August 3). Grodins to Open in Kaiser Center Mall. Retrieved November 1, 2007, from http://www.genealogybank.com/

Friday, November 02, 2007

Embarcadero Center

Embarcadero Center in San Francisco, for some, isn't considered a mall since it lacks a traditional layout and department stores. However, its three levels of mid-to-upscale shops and scores of eateries situated at the bases of four skyscrapers certainly qualifies Embarcadero Center as a shopping destination.

With a location in downtown San Francisco, closest to the waterfront, the crowds frequent Embarcadero Center during the weekdays. After hours and during weekends, you can find yourself almost alone, which allows you take pictures, enjoy the scenery, or notice the architectural details.

An art lovers dream, you'll find a number of interesting artwork, including John C. Portman Jr's "Orchid" (visible in the first and fourth pictures). Mr. Portman Jr. is also the very talented architect of the Embarcadero Center. There is a self-guided tour of the public art collection and it is worth a look.

For stores, Embarcadero Center is like many other malls. Although, you'll find a number of restaurants found nowhere else (please, expand your horizons outside of Chevy's!).


See the current aerial.

Visit my review of Embarcadero Center.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Vintage Advertisement: Roos/Atkins

Every now and then I run into a vintage ad for a store or shopping center of interest that I can't resist posting. This one is for Roos/Atkins, a San-Francisco-based retailer of clothing. The ad is from August 11, 1966 in the Oakland Tribune.

Roos/Atkins was formed by the merger of Robert S. Atkins and Roos Brothers clothiers in 1957. The chain declined in the Eighties, only to disappear entirely by the early Nineties. During its heyday, Roos/Atkins had 51 stores and would be found in every desirable shopping location.

If you have any memories of Roos/Atkins, I invite you to share them here.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Elk Grove Mall Starts Construction

September 18, 2007 marked the official start of construction for the new Elk Grove Promenade mall. This 1.1 million square foot mall will feature Macy's, Barnes & Noble, and a 16-screen Cinemark cinema.

Continuing the trend of outdoor lifestyle malls, Elk Grove Promenade will be open air and without any roofs. A street will wind through the middle of the center to emulate driving through an idyllic main street.

General Growth Properties (GGP), the owner and developer of the mall, is in agreement with the city of Elk Grove to open the mall before March 2009. However, GGP expects to open the mall before the holiday season in 2008.

Elk Grove Promenade is being constructed on 107 acres at the interchange of Hwy 99 and Grant Line Road.

The mall is expected to generate $3.6 million in annual sales tax revenue during its first year of operation.

The southern Sacramento region has been without a mall since the closure of Florin Mall in 2006.

Elk Grove Promenade is expected to effect sales at the Westfield Downtown Plaza. Westfield has been fighting the construction of a new mall in the region for years. This new mall could start a war in a fight for shoppers.

For more information on Elk Grove Promenade.

For the full article on the mall construction.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Vintage Postcards: Fresno Fashion Fair Mall

Although I typically don't cover Fresno, who could resist the temptation of this beautiful post card? The dark and moody mall with unique lighting and large clock.

The back of the card reads "Center of the Valley. The beautiful Fresno Fashion Fair Mall, controlled temperature the year round. Over 60 shops open 7 days a week to serve shoppers." In Fresno, "controlled temperature" is a good thing, trust me on that. Even today, the weatherman said it's going to be 'Fresno hot.'

Who wouldn't love the ubiquitous Jarman in the background. Even a speck of a See's Candies on the left.

This is one of the earlier malls in the region, although many newer malls have since sprung up. Fresno is also home to the unique Fulton Mall, a street turned pedestrian-only in 1964.


See the current aerial.

Visit the current Website for Fashion Fair Mall.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Vintage Postcards: Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek

Here's a pre-1960 gem showing the famed Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek. Pictured is the glorious sign and view down Broadway.

The back of the card reads "Broadway Shopping Center. This view shows only a portion of this rapidly expanding business district. The city is situated in the shadow of famed Mt. Diablo and has grown in less than a score of years from a peaceful farming area to a friendly bustling shipping center. Predictions have the county population to half a million by 1960 and over a million by 1990." I wonder if they meant "shipping center"? Their population estimates were close. In 1990, Contra Costa County had 803,732 people. In 2005, Contra Costa County had 1,023,400 people.

I love the giant oak tree in the background of the picture on the right. The ancient tree, since felled, is now the home of Il Fornaio restaurant in the Broadway Pointe shopping center.

The hip sign would look good today, perhaps with an updated stand. Nevertheless, you won't find any such sign this size there today. Perhaps due to a strict sign ordinance.


See the current aerial.

Visit my review of Broadway Plaza.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Peachy Keen-o Hilltop Mall

Early promotional literature for Hilltop Mall in Richomnd, California. A Tauban center, this mall was built after Eastridge in San Jose and before Stoneridge in Pleasanton. Many Taubman-esque features are evident. Keeping with the style of the time, you'll find eye-catching red carpet and a groovy circular walkway. Clearly this literature was printed just after the mall opened in 1976.
The state-of-the-art mall ramp was topped by a sculpture that looks to be from artist Charles O. Perry (similar to Stoneridge Mall). Although Charles O Perry doesn't seem to lay claim to this scultpture on his Website.
In a contrast to moody browns of the early Seventies, Hilltop mall featured futuristic trends in color choices. As was popular in the late seventies, you'll find the basics: black, white, and any primary color. Anyone remember the cover art for the B-52's album, "The B-52's"? Although the stores in the background, Naturalizer, Crescent Jewelers, and Kushins Shoes, stayed with "safe" colors, change out the center court carpet and the mall would still appear modern and tasteful right now in 2007.

Fast forward to 2007! Interject your skills and spot the differences that twenty years brings. Besides, the carpet color changing, store changes, and the addition of Sears, of course.
Both photographs are courtesy of the Grand Poobah of mallrat-dom, Dean Lundstrom. Many thanks to you, Dean!

Read my guide to Hilltop Mall.

See the aerial view.

All Roads Lead to Oakland

This advertisement of interest is from the H. C. Capwell Company, celebrating the opening of the Carquinez Bridge in May of 1927.
The advertisement extols the virtues of the "six great highways" delivering traffic across the new bridge to Oakland; bringing in new shoppers from all over. The six great highways include the Pacific Highway, Redwood Highway, Lincoln Highway, Victory Highway, the coast road, and the Ridge road.
Of additional interest is the notice of merger between Capwell's and the Emporium to give Oakland "its greatest store." The combined name "Emporium Capwell" didn't come into use until 1979. Although, in 1990, "Capwell" was dropped in favor of just "Emporium."
In the advertisement, they go on to announce a new store to be constructed at 20th and Broadway in downtown Oakland, which is the current location of Sears.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Alameda Towne Center Remodeling on Track

I visited Alameda Towne Center ("centre") this past weekend and was pleasantly surprised. Field Paoli, the redevelopment architectural firm, never fails to disappoint. Although the remodel isn't completed yet, the completed parts are stunning. Tasteful building materials, superb landscaping, and unusual mall art all complement the contemporary styling of the mall.

Many big-box retailers have or are moving into the mall, including Borders Books, TJ Maxx, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Old Navy join an existing line up that includes Mervyn's, Trader Joe's and Super Safeway. Many of the inner mall spaces haven't been leased and there aren't many inline stores, yet. Although, you can still find a number of stores that are surviving the remodel.

When it's complete, this gem will certainly be an asset to the Alameda island tax base. A Target store wants to build a store, but local residents, fearing additional traffic, are fighting it. The area between Berkeley and San Leandro is a Target void. It seems almost unnatural for the area to not have one. We shall see how this plays out.

Read my guide to Alameda Towne Center

See the Outdated aerial view.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Westfield San Francisco Centre

Yet another impressive mall. My first visit since the expansion and the crowds were so thick, it made it difficult to take pictures or even see much. Interestingly enough, the area under the old Emporium dome was subdued and quiet. I took a few pictures of the dome since it's the first time I've seen it since the Emporium closed .

The mall itself was truly outstanding. The selection of stores is mostly unique, which is a rarity these days. Some retailers have their only Bay Area location here.

Another impressive aspect is the food selection. Many interesting and probably delicious sit-down restaurants pepper the mall. The lower level food court, called "The Emporium" (complete with original script), has plenty of exciting eateries.

This mall is hard to describe. The new addition is shockingly modern, yet very traditional under the dome. It's a blend of styles. The old part of the mall is still contemporary, yet outside the spiral escalators, not much to talk about.

Nevertheless, I predict great success for this mall and more surprises for the future. Westfield now how two powerhouses in the Bay Area, Valley Fair in San Jose and San Francisco Centre.

Read my guide to Westfield San Francisco Centre

See the aerial view.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Crocker Galleria - Is Westfield Stealing its Thunder?

The Crocker Galleria is a small mall amongst the towering high rises of downtown San Francisco. Although just two blocks from the bustling Union Square, the center seemed a world apart in terms of crowds.

The center's stores appear to cater towards weekday office workers and the affluent who don't need to work. The upper level hosts a number of on-the-go eateries, while a peppering of art stores may appeal to executives and tourists. However, it appears as if the Westfield San Francisco Centre is drawing the desirable stores and the people who shop there. We visited on a Saturday and there were only 3 people in the mall. Only twenty minutes earlier we waited in a line to go up an escalator at the Westfield Mall.

Some recent departures from the Crocker Galleria include the decidedly upscale Gianni Versace. For after hours, a Faz Restaurant offered a place for happy hour drinks, but that has closed, too. Bath and Body Works also disappeared. Is this center loosing its appeal to tourists and the after-hours crowd?

The architecture of the Crocker Galleria is stunning, with its glass roof that appears open to the sky. It was modeled after the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan, Italy. However, architecture, alone, doesn't draw people. Is the center too stuffy? I'm not sure, but I'd sure hate to see a beauty like this close.

Read my guide to Crocker Galleria

See the aerial view.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Cupertino Square Fights Back

With the hubbub about the Vallco Fashion Park renovation, I thought I'd pay it a little visit.

I was surprised to find the mall busier than in the past; especially with the unseasonably warm weather. Only a scant number of shops are still open, partly due to the renovation that has closed off access to where stores would be. The parquet flooring is gone! In its place are warm white tiles, still being installed in places. Upscale tan granite tiles are being installed around planters and columns. A new parking garage is nearly complete near JC Penney.

The most exciting addition is a cinema, which is nearly finished. Its hulking structure is shown on the second picture and the indoor ticket booth is shown on the fourth picture.

An "international" food court is under construction over Wolfe Road near Penney's. I'm assuming they will be cannibalizing part of the Vallco Ice Center. An atrium is planned, but I'm not sure where. Seems likely near the food court.

Also unknown is the fate of the first floor. There are no signs of the walls coming down.

The exterior of the mall will look similar to Santana Row, earning this mall the nickname 'Santana-Row Lite." The artist's rendering of the exterior from Vallco Parkway and Wolfe Rd. looked more like a European village than suburban shopping center. (which begs the question, in Europe, do they build things that look like an "American village?") The second photo shows a partially constructed facade, which will favor modernistic styling, also butting the street.

The fifth photo shows the backside of the center, which resembles a college. Taking any exterior photographs of this mall is near impossible with the thick trees. I love the trees, but it hides the mall. Not to mention, it DOES look like a school (complete with windows that are sealed or store junk).

Well, what do you think about the Vallco, eer, Cupertino Square renovation? Will it work? Can the area support another major mall?


Read my guide to Vallco Fashion Park

See the aerial view.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Vintage 1915 Emporium Advertisement

This scanned from the San Francisco Examiner, dated December 15, 1915. The headlines on the paper spoke of the closing of the great 1915 Pan-Pacific Exposition, which celebrated the 1914 opening of the Panama Canal. Inside, though, I found this ad to be of interest.

The unique script used for "The Emporium" precedes the giant "E" that I remember at Stonestown or San Jose's Almaden Plaza. The great detail put into the penmanship is an art on its own; certainly not something you see or appreciate any more.

And who can resist the enticing offers of the Edison Phonograps?


Friday, March 02, 2007

Vintage Postcards: Aerial Sunvalley Mall in Concord

The postcard series continues... A recently acquired gem that also gives you an idea what the area was like in 1974. I-680 was two lanes each side, there is no Willows Shopping Center, just open spaces of non-native grasses and field mustard.

The back of the postcard reads "Sunvalley Shopping Center. An aerial of the newest and most modern shopping centers [sic] in the U.S.A. It is completely enclosed and air conditioned." The card was postmarked February 24, 1975. Back when it cost 8 cents to mail a postcard!

Near Penney's, a wooden fence surrounds an area that allows you to see underground. I'm interested in this "hole." Does anyone know anymore about it?

I think Macy's still has the blue awnings. Timeless, they might say.

Enjoy the card!


Read my guide to Sunvalley Mall

Visit the current Website.

See the aerial view.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Stoneridge Mall Renovation in Full Swing

The minor renovation occurring at Stoneridge Mall in Pleasanton seems to be in full swing. All of the original sunken sitting "pits" have been removed. You can see exposed dirt, which hasn't seen sunlight since 1979. Towards the Macy's Women's store, new floor tiles are being installed in multiple circle patterns. The color is more brown with a marble look. The original floor is white terrazzo. A giant sculpture was precariously moved and leaning against the glass rail on the second story. I tried to push it away to see if it would topple, but it wouldn't budge.

The most exciting part in the renovation is the opening of P.F. Chang's China Bistro and The Cheesecake Factory. Nothing thrills a Tri-Valley resident more than the opening of a national chain restaurant. Wait times to get into Cheesecake factory exceed 2.5 hours, with scantly less for P.F. Chang's. Cleary the new restaurants are a hit. I've uploaded the latest directory, the first with the new restaurants. Both are attached to Macy's Women's.

Typically, I avoid malls during the Christmas crunch, so this was my first visit in many months. Many new stores have opened. It's like an entirely new mall. Once the remodel has finished, I'll take new photos.
Read my guide to Stoneridge Mall

Visit the current Website.

See the aerial view.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Shops at Tanforan

I recently made a quick trip to The Shops at Tanforan and picked up a directory. Since it's opening in 2005, the mall has matured a bit. Still busy and getting new stores, I'd judge the new mall a success. I'm impressed with the architecture and outstanding use of lighting. So often incorrectly or simply underused, good lighting can make anything look good. I'm glad the architects found it important.

Construction of a Century Theatres is underway and will soon anchor the mall at the food court.

The Shops at Tanforan does have a convenient location, right off the San Bruno BART station. Joining the ranks of other shopping center directly beside the BART line, Westfield San Francisco Centre, Bayfair Center, and soon, Stoneridge Shopping Center.

Although I dislike pointing out one's flaws, the directory had some noticeable mistakes, such as, the name of the street that borders the mall! They have printed "Sheath Lane" when it is really "Sneath Lane." Yikes!

Also, I also scanned the insert that came with the directory. Does anyone know what it's a list of? And no, the back does not have any indications ;)

As for the aerial view, I chose MSN because you can view the aerial, which is before the mall was gutted and remodeled, then switch the bird's eye view to see the mall as it was taken a few months ago.


Read my guide to The Shops at Tanforan

Visit the current Website.

See the aerial view.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Eighties Meadowood Mall Reno

Happy new year to all!
I thought I'd start out 2007 with a retro visit to Meadowood Mall in Reno Nevada.
The pictures are a scan of the directory I picked up in 1989. Being a Taubman mall, you can spot many of the hallmarks, such as lights in the skylights and unique art. On one side, you can make out Miller's Outpost and on the other, Miller Stockman.
The directory is before Sears joined the mall, which included the addition of a food court. Rare indeed for Taubman.
A unique service offered by the mall in 1989 is language assistance in Icelandic. Not many malls go to such lengths to welcome visitors from Iceland (or perhaps, Manitoba?).
Meadowood Mall opened in 1978 with Macy's, Liberty House, and JC Penney. Liberty House closed in 1983 and Macy's South moved in the following year. Sears eventually left the soon to be demolished Park Lane Mall for Meadowood in the Nineties and the rest is history.
The Summit Sierra shopping center is currently competing with Meadowood for top-spot. The Summit Sierra has only one department store (Dillard's) and is an open-air power center. Walking from store to store isn't an option and you must drive. However, being new, The Summit Sierra is currently very popular. Nevertheless, it's the test of time that will eventually tell. Enclosed mall vs. power center. Who do you think will win?

Visit the current Website.

See the aerial view.