Ford City Mall; Chicago, Illinois

Ford City Mall is Chicago’s last remaining in-city regional mall. Located on the far southwest side of the city at 76th Street and Cicero Avenue in the West Lawn neighborhood, just south of Midway Airport, Ford City has a storied past. The site where Ford City Mall now stands was originally a defense plant, constructed during World War II. During the height of the war, a total of 10 buildings were constructed – the largest, Building 4, was over 62 acres in size. The entire site was 432 acres, and was used to make aircraft engines for the war effort, including those for the B-29 Bomber. The northern part of the former factory site remained industrial, and the southern section of Building 4 was partially demolished and refashioned into two separate retail buildings, both of which opened for business in 1965 as Ford City Mall. The north retail building, North Mall, was made into a strip mall, anchored by a Jewel Supermarket, a bowling facility, toy shop, and a small cinema.

Oak Park Mall; Austin, Minnesota

Austin, Minnesota is a small city of about 23,000 residents in the southern part of the state.  It is just over 100 miles from the Twin Cities, and 40 miles from Rochester along Interstate 90.  Austin is famous for one thing:  SPAM.  Since 1937, Hormel Foods has been churning out tons of this salty, processed meat product at […]

El Con Mall; Tucson, Arizona

El Con Mall was Tucson’s first mall, borne of necessity in 1960. Tucson didn’t have a mall yet, and its population grew 368 percent between 1950 and 1960 – from 45,000 residents to well over 200,000. Developer Joseph Kivel decided the best spot for the mall was in midtown Tucson, in the middle of the growth, next to the storied, posh El Conquistador Hotel, a Spanish Revival structure which opened in 1928 (and should never have been torn down). When the mall opened it was initially outdoor, and anchored by a three-level, 60,000 square-foot Levy’s Department Store, which moved from downtown Tucson, as well as a 2-level, 180,000 square-foot Montgomery Ward; Woolworth and Skaggs Drug were mini-anchors.

Beverly Center; Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles is known for its malls in a way almost no other major city is. Its urban built environment is proto-suburban, an odd blend of almost-urban density and car-culture all blended into a stew. So unlike other large cities, where malls feel like something of an afterthought, grafted onto the edges of cities at […]

Fiesta Mall (Indio Fashion Center); Indio, California

Fiesta Mall is Indio’s enclosed shopping mall, and one of three enclosed malls in the Coachella Valley. It was built in 1974 as Indio Fashion Mall, and aside from minor cosmetic updates has the same layout as it did then. Sears and San Bernardino-based Harris were the original anchors, and a small single-level mallway connected them with only 225,000 square feet of total space. Indio was a much smaller city then, with a population under 20,000, and had a caucasian-majority demographic.