Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bay Fair Shopping Center, San Leandro - Macy's Grand Opening 1957

A vintage ad for the grand opening of the Macy's department store at San Leandro's Bay Fair Shopping Center (now known as Bayfair Center). The late 50s saw an explosion of regional shopping centers in the suburban Bay Area. Developed by a joint venture of Macy's California and The Capital Company, Bay Fair was one of the two "fair" shopping centers, the other being Valley Fair in San Jose. Both fairs were designed by Victor Gruen.

Bay Fair Shopping Center opened in phases. First phase was the opening of Macy's on August 8, 1957. This ad from The Daily Review newspaper (Hayward, CA) is dated August 7, 1957. Regrettably, the Bay Fair logo is poorly contrasted to be seen. However, the ad shows the original layout of Bay Fair. The mall was two levels and situated on two planes: the lower "Mall Level" and upper "Terrace Level." An original concept at the time, visitors could park on the level they desired and never had to climb stairs.

The caption on the right side reads:
"Bay fair regional shopping center welcomes Macy's. OPEN THURSDAY... the first of 80 retail stores to open at Bay Fair Regional Shopping center!


... the first phase in the completion of our $25,000,000 center. Macy's will serve as the focal point in this gigantic shopping facility, providing one-stop shopping conveniences for the entire East Bay Area.

For convenient approach to Bay Fair, clip out this map for ready reference. Note directions in black bars for easy access from freeways. From Foothill Boulevard turn west on 150th Avenue, then south to East 14th Street. Enter parking areas from either East 14th Street or Hesperian Boulevard."

The lower left caption reads:
"FREE PARKING FOR 15,000 CARS DAILY! STAGE 1... MACY'S OPENING, the first big step forward in the construction progress of Bay Fair, a focal point for a festival of fun and savings for the entire family! STAGE 2... 22 MORE STORES TO OPEN IN OCTOBER which will be located in a two-level building adjacent to the MACY'S building, accessible from both the mall and terrace parking areas. STAGE 3... 57 ADDITIONAL STORES are now planning their openings in the near future!"


Monday, May 23, 2011

Blackhawk Plaza Danville Directory

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A scan of an updated mall directory at Blackhawk Plaza in Danville, California.
Blackhawk Plaza has a colorful history. Without getting into semantics, the mall still is far from a freeway, suffers from a high turnover of stores, and just isn't the fashion destination one might expect.

Yes, I can find a few reasons to visit on occasion. The Blackhawk Museum is a wonderful place to visit, even if you don't like cars. Draeger's is a fantastic grocery store and has a wonderful home furnishings department. The cinema is great, too.

The mall grounds are spectacular, almost Disney-esque. However, as a regional destination, this place isn't living up to the hype. Two words: Walnut Creek.


Visit the current Website.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Vallco Shopping Mall Construction 2011

The mysterious lower level at Vallco Shopping Mall (previously, Cupertino Square, previously Vallco Fashion Park) is, under construction.

After discovering the walls around the portal to the lower level removed, I raced downstairs and found an open door. These exclusive photos show the lower level under construction. This view is from the cinema towards Macy's.

Vallco mall directories have long stated "under construction" for the lower level, which made its debut the 80s, then disappeared in the 00s.

Remark from a curious bystander: "what are they going to fill it with?" Vallco, considered a "dead mall," is suffering from low occupancy. Good question.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Vintage Postcards: Seabiscuit at Tanforan Park Mall in San Bruno

A vintage postcard from the early 70s showing the statue of Seabiscuit in Tanforan Park Shopping Center in San Bruno.

The back side of the postcard reads: "This life size statue of Seabiscuit is located in one of the many Malls of Tanforan Park to commemorate the historic race track site the Center now occupies. Where former champions once raced, shoppers now enjoy the San Francisco Peninsula's most beautiful enclosed Mall." Excuse the unusual capitalization.

A lone woman appears fixated on the statue. A paid model?

Seabiscuit still stands today outside the mall, across from Barnes & Noble on the El Camino side.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Hillsdale Mall San Mateo Directory

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A scan of the most recent Hillsdale Mall directory. Of interest is the old Mervyn's space. The lower level map, not at the same scale as the upper level map, shows the Mervyn's space divided into 3 inline stores, with the mall making a 45 degree turn to the east parking. The upper level map still shows an empty space. I didn't see any signs announcing stores coming to these spots, so we'll have to wait and see.

Mervyn's may not have been a big draw. Usually when a department store leaves a mall, the corridor leading to it also begins to die. However, no blatant occupancy issues at Hillsdale Mall. It's still as popular as ever.

I'm looking forward to see what moves in.


Read my guide to Hillsdale Mall

Visit the current Website.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Liberty House and Rhodes Join Forces 1972

In my perusing to find information on Liberty House, I stumbled across this brilliant ad for calculators in 1972.

Offered at the lowest price they've ever had, a bulking monster of a calculator is priced at an unbelievable low $68.99!

The Summit K-116 "pocket calculator" (lower right corner) is offered at $89.99. It includes a fancy leather case. This calculator was LED... and I know because we owned this model. It broke, but I had no idea my parents used an entire paycheck to buy it.

Partially-related, an ad in the upper right corner announced the joining of forces of Liberty House and Rhodes Stores. Both stores were owned by Amfac and it seemed a logical combination. However, disparities existed between the Liberty House and Rhodes Stores locations, typically in store size. Liberty House was typically much larger and preferred mall locations. Rhodes had off-mall locations and typically smaller footprints, such as Concord and Dublin. Nevertheless, the union lasted until Liberty House left the mainland altogether.


Monday, May 09, 2011

Liberty House Southland Mall Grand Opening 1972

A vintage advertisement from The Daily Review newspaper on July 28, 1972, celebrating the grand opening of Liberty House at Southland Mall in Hayward.

Although July 30, 1972 was the official grand opening date of Liberty House at Southland Mall, the store actually opened its doors to the public at noon July 2, 1972 (Liberty House Grand Opening Set, 1972).

The Southland Mall location was Liberty House's third location. The Eastridge Mall store had opened a year earlier in 1971 and the City of Paris by Liberty House opened between the Eastridge and Southland openings. A fifth location, Sunrise Mall, would open later in 1972.

Liberty House Grand Opening Set. (1972, June 30). Daily Review. Retrieved May 09, 2011 from

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Macy's Sunrise Mall, Citrus Heights

The Macy's at Sunrise Mall in Citrus Heights is an architectural copy of the Macy's store at Southland Mall in Hayward. Both were former Liberty House stores.

The Sunrise Mall location opened October 18, 1972 and was Liberty House's fifth Northern California store (S.F. Liberty House, 1972). Preceded by a Liberty House at Eastridge Mall in San Jose, City of Paris by Liberty House in San Francisco Union Square, and City of Paris Liberty House at Stonestown Mall in San Francisco.

Although the Liberty House locations at Southland and Eastridge both were filled by Emporium-Capwell stores after the demise of Liberty House in 1984, Sunrise Mall already had a Weinstock's. The store sat empty until Macy's moved from its Birdcage Walk location across the street.

** Corrected, Macy's moved its womens' departments from Birdcage, leaving the men's and furnishings at Birdcage until Macy's took over the Weinstock's location at Sunrise Mall. Who drove to the wrong Macy's at least once?

Old photos can be found at the Department Store Museum blog.


S.F. Liberty House. (1972, October 5). Hayward Daily Review. Retrieved May 11, 2011 from

Monday, May 02, 2011

Pier 39, San Francisco, California

A stunningly clear and warm day in San Francisco, pre-tourist season, is captured in this photo of Pier 39. This positively was the best day for locals to be at Fisherman's Wharf before the crowds and fog roll in.

As usual, Pier 39 still has a great collection of unique stores with San Francisco memorability or other wares that can be only found here (such as, a left-handed goods store).

Shopping at Pier 39 is fully sensory. The barking of sea lions for your ears, the fresh salted air for your nose, and beautiful bay views for your eyes.