Sunday, March 16, 2008

Vintage Postcards: Eastridge Mall

Here's a great vintage postcard of the famous Eastridge Mall in San Jose. It's a view of the center court towards Macy's. Pictured on the left is the mystery middle level that only appeared on opposing sides in the middle of the mall.

It appears as if a number of vacancies displays in this photo. Although we are treated to a vintage "The Gap" logo in the far left top. Who could forget the Arts International on the top right?

In the center court is the beautiful sculpture that was later moved to downtown San Jose.

With the remodel in 2005, the entire center court was reconfigured. The fountain demolished, and the mystery level removed.

The back of the postcard reads "Eastridge Shopping Center, the largest in the West, is a shopper's paradise comprising over 160 shops and four major department stores under one roof. The three climate controlled levels are unique in their bold design. Capitol Expressway, Tully, and Quimby Roads, San Jose, California."

Of course, the department stores were Macy's, JC Penney, Sears, and Liberty House. Emporium-Capwell replaced Liberty House when the chain pulled out of California. After Macy's bought Emporium-Capwell, they shuttered the store. It sat vacant until the 2005 remodel when they demolished the store.

Please, share your memories of Eastridge here.

See the current aerial.

Visit my review of Eastridge Mall.


dean said...

Thanks for posting this incredible photo. It looks like it was taken at a time before they added the ramps in front of Macy's. I guess that "mysterious" middle level created problems with circulation and they ended up adding the ramps to alleviate that. No doubt the eventual complete removal of the middle level was the final remedy.

I've always loved those chrome posts with the lights in them. They were a very sophisticated design for the 70's. I remember Eastridge being packed on the weekends back then. The grand experience was not only the huge scale of the place but the throngs of people that went there as well.

Randy said...

For those who aren't aware, the Macy's signs at Eastridge are still the same from their 1971 opening.

The mall that most resembles Eastridge is Woodfield outside of Chicago, which opened the same year as Eastridge.

One slight note of correction regarding Liberty House: they actually sold their Eastridge store to Emporium (Carter Hawley Hale) in 1978, six years before they (along with Bullock's North) pulled out of Northern California, leaving the competition to Macy's and Emporium-Capwell. This would've made an excellent location for Dillard's.

Paul said...

Eastridge was designed by Israeli-born architect Aver Naggar, who worked for Taubman. He designed many Taubman malls, although I don't know if he did Woodfield.

Dean is right; Eastridge was a HUGE draw when it first opened. We lived just south of San Francisco, and would regularly spend Sundays driving 50 miles down to San Jose just to shop there. (Of course gas was 50 cents a gallon back then.) Sunday shopping was a fairly new phenomenon back then, and since Sunday was still considered a 'family day', it was not uncommon to run into friends and neighbors, all dressed up, at local malls.

Liberty House chose Eastridge as their first mainland store, and it also created quite a lot of buzz when it opened. In the center atrium, there were 4 glass capsules, with mannequins dressed in the way-cool fashions of the early 1970s. These glass capsules would slowly glide up and down the 3-floor atrium. It was a neat idea, and, other than a few Liberty House and Rhodes stores, I'm surprised nobody has ever used it again. Unlike latter-day Liberty House stores in Hawaii, this was a full-line department store with furniture, a record department, televisions and stereos (that department was called 'Sight and Sound' ooooh), and a full-service restaurant and bar.

Pat R. said...

Wow! Great shot!

dean said...

I have a book on Woodfield Mall that says it was designed by Charles Luckman Associates.

It's fascinating to note the similarities between many of the Taubman malls even though different architects were used. I'd be interested to know if they had a particular architect such as Mr. Naggar who developed guidelines for the others to follow, or if someone like Mr Taubman was involved since he had an architecture background.

I always thought the "elevator" displays in Liberty House were pretty cool to watch. They made a nice kinetic feature for the escalator court. The store at Southland in Hayward also had them and you can still see where they use to be located in the current Macy's. My guess is that they were built at around the same time. For a while, Southland had the older 60's part of the mall, and then this new addition for Liberty House that looked like a little piece of Eastridge was added on.

Paul said...

Yes, Eastridge, Southland, and Sunrise (Sacramento)were almost identical, and all opened at the same time (Eastridge 1971, Southland and Sunrise 1972.

I was in the Southwest last year and the former Rhodes, then Liberty House, then Joske's, then Dillard's is now JC Penney, and it has much the same design, as does the Dillard's in El Paso, TX. I think all those stores once had those manequin elevators, as did the Liberty House in Pearlridge, HI. Unfortunatley, they're all gone now

Steven Wilson said...


What's the name of the book on Woodfield? The information that I've always had was that Woodfield was designed by Jickling and Lyman. That's a good observation about the ramps in front of Macy's. It made sense to add them. There is a similar set in the analogous location at Woodfield.

You've probably already seen these, but I have some vintage Eastridge photos here
and a vintage Eastridge ad with the original logo here.

dean said...

Steve, the name of the book is called "Schaumburg's Woodfield Mall", by William Holderfield, and published by Arcadia Publishing. I found it at Amazon. It has some nice photos but it's not as comprehensive as I hoped it would be. It's written pretty much from a layman's point of view.

I'm not knowledgeable about the architects that Taubman used, though the Hyatt next to Fairlane Town Center is credited to Charles Luckman so he most likely had some involvement with Taubman. I read Taubman's book a while back and it's unfortunate that he didn't discuss more the design of his malls. I consider them to be a fairly sophisticated collection of designs that have pretty much been taken for granted.

I love the photos you have posted on your website. They show what an impressive place Eastridge originally was!!

Steven Wilson said...

Thanks, Dean! I've ordered the Woodfield book.

Steven Wilson said...

Thanks again, Dean, for informing me about the Woodfield book. I got it today, but only had a chance to thumb through it briefly so far.

About Eastridge, in between its original Taubman form and its current form with the middle level removed, there was a long stretch of time in which the grand court was home to another significant modification. They built a two-level bridge that cut right across the middle of the grand court. It was a straight-across bridge that connected the upper level to the upper level and the middle level to the middle level. Does anyone remember that bridge? I wonder if there are any photos of it.

It's interesting that they would even put in such a bridge because it enabled large volumes of foot traffic to avoid walking past storefronts. I remember at Woodfield, they used to block off the grand court's amphitheater area because people would cut across it. Reportedly, merchants did not like it that shoppers could cut through the middle and avoid walking nearer to their storefronts.

dean said...

I have photos of the "intermediate" Eastridge years. In fact I have the same view as on this postcard. Yes, those walkways plowed right across the center court and the hulking stone-clad elevator weighed heavy in the midst of the original weightless ceiling. I had gone to Eastridge that day to try and capture on film some of the malls original design but unfortunately came away with little that hadn't been corrupted. One thing that I really liked though were the new light diffusing rings that they hung below the skylights.

Steven Swain said...

What a wonderful interior space. They don't make 'em like that anymore, that's for sure.

Anonymous said...

Scott, I didn't see any other contact info. I don't have a camera and I thought you and soomeone you might know at labelscar or dead malls would be interested in Northgate San Rafael.
There are zero stores lining the inside east end between Macy's and Sears. Good pics would probably be an ongoing thing. Read here,

Always love your blog, Steve C.

Aaron said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I grew up going to Eastridge. We lived in one of the new North Valley neighborhoods and Eastridge was our mall. As a teen in the mid 80's I took the bus there at least once a week with my friends.
I remember birthday parties at Farrell's ice cream parlor, girl scout outings to the ice skating rink, pitching pennies in the fountain, trying to walk on the sloped edges of the fountains without falling in, grape licorice ropes from a candy store on the ground level (by Penney's I think) and a million other great memories from this mall.
I have watched the mall change through 2 remodels. The latest one is not so bad. The first one, with the elevator, was hideous.
The mystery middle level was integral to the mall when I was a kid. McDonald's was on that level, as was a music store that I don't remember the name of.
Steve, your photos are exactly hoe I remember Eastridge!

Anonymous said...

I remember cutting school with my friends to go see the new Eastridge in 1971. We were in awe, never saw anything like that before!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting this picture. It looks just the way I remember!! I lived in San Jose as a kid for about 12 years, (born there) and fondly remember going to Farrell's Ice Cream Parlor for birthday parties!! There will never be a better ice cream parlor!! I also remember saving and saving until mom took us to Eastridge, and we went to the "Hello Kitty" store (as we called it) and picked out something. We wouldn't get much, some stickers, a notepad, tiny stapler, etc., but it made my day!! LOVE this picture. I can't believe it looks familiar to me after all these years!!

Anonymous said...

What was the Music Store Name? I clearly remember the music store mot the name!!!!

Georgia Langsam said...

eastridge is the sister center of hilltop in richmond,ca woodfield in schaumburg, il and fairlane in dearborn mi all had the mid levels a concept that was later abandoned by Taubman builder and owner of all 3 properties

eldamire t said...

Tower records was there too. Second level in front of the stairs.

Samson Wong said...

Anonymous 7:07 AM: The music store located in that mystery middle level was Musicland, not Tower Records. Absolutely, 100% as I used to go to Eastridge a lot when I was a kid with my parents. It was the mall to go to before Valley Fair expanded, Santana Row, and the Great Mall.