Hamilton City Centre/Lloyd Jackson Square; Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Hamilton City Centre former Eaton Centre Hart Department Store in Hamilton, Ontario

Located on the west shore of Lake Ontario, Hamilton is an anchor city for the Golden Horseshoe, one of North America’s largest urban agglomerations extending from Toronto and its suburbs all the way around to the Niagara Region of St. Catharines and Niagara Falls, including Hamilton, Barrie, Mississauga, and more. According to the 2006 Canadian census, Hamilton has a population of just over 500,000 residents. The city is the third largest in Ontario and the ninth largest in all of Canada. Historically, Hamilton grew from manufacturing roots, and the city is known from many who pass by it on the QEW Expressway for its prominent steel mills.

But Hamilton is more than heavy industry; it is, instead, a multicultural melting pot with a growing economy and a thriving culture of museums, castles, gardens, and much more. Also of note is the fact that the city is bisected by a “mountain” – really a large and very steep hill called the Niagara Escarpment, but it separates Hamilton into “upper” and “lower” areas. Upper Hamilton includes the mostly suburban and residential areas west of the downtown core and away from the lake, and lower Hamilton is comprised of mostly the urban core of downtown and the low-lying areas to the east along Lake Ontario’s shore, including the heavy manufacturing areas.

Downtown Hamilton across from the mallIn the middle of lower Hamilton’s downtown are many skyscrapers which make Hamilton’s skyline impressive, and two large urban enclosed malls which are connected and functionally operate as one, and will be referred to for practical purposes in this article as one mall: Hamilton City Centre and Lloyd Jackson Square. Located right in the center of the city, the malls share several city blocks and are bounded by King Street, Bay Street, York Boulevard and James Street. Named after former Hamilton mayor Lloyd Jackson, his namesake mall opened in 1970. The 1970s were a booming period of construction around the mall which also put up several tall skyscrapers which attach to the mall’s interior walkways, including Stelco (steel) Tower, Landmark Place and the Bank of Montreal pavilion. The main anchor to the malls was Eaton’s department store, which had been present in downtown Hamilton for decades prior. In 1977, the second phase of the mall opened including a six story office tower and in the 1980s a Sheraton and 19,000-seat coliseum opened, all attached to the mall.

However, harder times came to Hamilton in the 1990s, affecting its economy as the manufacturing jobs dwindled in the area. In 1999, a hard blow came to the Hamilton City Centre (then Eaton Centre) portion of the mall block when Eaton’s went out of business nationwide. Sears, who bought Eatons, declined to reinvest in the troubled mall and instead sold its interest and today a portion of the space is Quebec-based Hart discount department store. At that point, that portion of the mall was officially renamed Hamilton City Centre from Eaton Centre.

Jackson Square directory in Hamilton, OntarioToday, the malls exist mainly as a support structure for people working and staying downtown. Much of the designated retail space in both the Lloyd Jackson and especially the Hamilton City Centre portions of the mall have been converted to office or other uses, or simply remain vacant. However, there is still a significant retail portion in the cavernous, winding mall, mostly centered around the large food court and adjacent to the very popular indoor farmer’s market attached to the mall.

The design and decor of the malls is also remarkable. The Lloyd Jackson and Hamilton City Centre portions of the mall, while connected and functionally one mall, are styled differently. In terms of design, the City Centre portion can effectively be considered one dead-end leg of the Lloyd Jackson center, which is larger. However, the City Centre portion is three stories whereas the Lloyd Jackson portion is mostly one story and windy. See the pictures for a better explanation of the confusing layout; we got lost at least once in the mall, which we were kind of amused by. In terms of decor, the Hamilton City Centre portion is largely a more modern, 1990s design, whereas much of the Lloyd Jackson portion is dated to the 1980s or 1970s.

Take a look at the photos we captured of the mall and downtown Hamilton from 2006, and feel free to leave your comments and stories as usual.

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Jackson Square City Centre Hamilton, Ontario Jackson Square City Centre Hamilton, Ontario Jackson Square City Centre Hamilton, Ontario

Jackson Square City Centre Hamilton, Ontario Jackson Square City Centre Hamilton, Ontario Jackson Square City Centre Hamilton, Ontario

Jackson Square City Centre Hamilton, Ontario Jackson Square City Centre Farmers Market Hamilton, Ontario Jackson Square City Centre Hamilton, Ontario

Jackson Square City Centre Hamilton, Ontario

38 Responses to “Hamilton City Centre/Lloyd Jackson Square; Hamilton, Ontario, Canada”

  1. The lighting in the first picture is similar to the Freehold Raceway Mall in Freehold, NJ. The diamond lights and the round ones were in the mall prior to the renovation.

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    peter Reply:

    @shaney_oyeah, wow your so right.. peter think that is cool like a cat

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    l.d.errickson Reply:

    @shaney_oyeah, -all look nice in place,but secury issues,security guard. working for years do not do their job,to many roberys to store.they should be change.they never are ,where you need them.the may change them.

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    Nonnie Reply:

    @l.d.errickson,

    Definitely a problem with outdated security, and no enforcement of scooters that run down unsuspecting patrons

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  2. It should be noted that Eaton Centres of various sizes went up in several downtowns in Ontario in the 60s and 70s. In addition to the big one in Toronto, they also opened in Kitchener, Sarnia and Peterborough (to name 3 off the top of my head).

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    peter Reply:

    @JP, omg i like jp… im part of jp at my school….

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  3. I noticed one store was called “The $20 Store”. It must be an upscale dollar store…or something…

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  4. Who owns the mall?

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    peter Reply:

    @SEAN, i do

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  5. Two malls, two owners. Jackson Square is owned by Montreal-based Yale Properties. Hamilton City Centre is owned by Toronto-based Fercan Developments Inc.

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  6. It sounds like Hamilton has hit hard times, but it doesn’t sound like its had the crime or demographic shifts that have killed off malls in the US. Yet, the story sounds awfully familiar–anchor loss and and the slow replacement of stores with other uses.

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  7. Anyone been to Sheridan Centre on Erin Mills Pkwy in Mississauga? This used to be a really nice mall just like Hamilton Eaton Centre; when Eaton’s was there it was called Eaton Sheridan Place. When Eaton’s ran into trouble, the Sheridan store was one of the first to close down in 1998. Soon after, like half of the stores in the mall shut down. Today, the former Eaton wing has been redeveloped into office space. The rest of the mall is now occupied by local independents. I think it’s just sad to see these once nice malls decay and deteriorate after losing Eaton’s. I really miss shopping at Eaton’s.

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  8. The mall honestly isn’t as depressing as made out to sound. A lot of the vacant retail space in Jackson Square is finding new uses all the time, whether it be expansion or retail again. The City Centre is also enjoying the fact that it is currently Hamilton’s temporary city hall until renovations at the main city hall are complete. Many stores inside of the City Centre have experienced higher sales volume since the workers have moved in.

    The Farmers Market in Jackson Square is also scheduled for a massive renovation over the next 5 years. I think the food court is also getting an addition. A fairly sizeable amount of old store space has been ripped apart and looks like it is getting re-developed.

    I think I would be bold enough to say that Jackson Square and the City Centre are past their worst days. Many downtown malls have suffered much worse, for some reason this one was able to hang on and now it’s getting a rebound. This can be said for downtown Hamilton as a whole though, if you search around local media.

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  9. I live in Dundas (a town near Hamilton) and my family always said Jackson Square was weird and full of gang crime. Since I started summer school at Sir John A, I have gone to the mall almost every day at lunch. I think it is really neat, and has some more resonably priced items. The movie theatre is very cool, the McDonalds is full of people and other stores are booming. Yes there is some free space but it seems to be rebuilding itself over time. Where the CityHall is temporarily located is so amazing. When I first walked in I was awe struck by the incredible height and the wonderful fountain area. I hope the place cleans itself up and continues to be a very interesting area to cruise.

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  10. I like to know who the architect is that designed the part of the City Centre

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  11. Last time I was in Hamilton, the space that used to be EATONS was occupied by two separate liquidation companies. I wonder if it’s still the same.

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  12. Is it just me or does this mall look like it’s ready to implode. Half the stores in the mall are either some ma and pa shops while the others just look like they’re getting ready to close down. Look at the Passport office, it’s now gone and moved across the street. The Eatons area looks like a ghost town will all of the others stores either boarded up or empty.

    Someone said that the food court was getting renovated. I noticed this when I was there in the summer. What’s the deal with that? why would they renovate if there is little or diminishing traffic flow?

    I sure hope this place doesn’t go belly up. Are there any management people who we could get straight answers from?

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  13. The mall is rocking- i’m working there right now (looking down onto the Jackson Square foodcourt)… There are lots of people who come here to waste the day away, and during normal business hours and on Saturdays it’s very tough to fight through the crowds to get anywhere in the mall.. For those of you who think that the mall is a ‘ghost-town’, you should check out the Brantford Mall- ugh.. Honestly, I don’t think they’ll ever close this place down.

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  14. For those who say that downtown hamilton is past it’s worst days you’re wrong. Downtown Hamilton is in it’s deathrolls. Jackson square and especially the old eaton centre are pathetic. Our City Hall is temporarily in a mall,lol. We also had a school in the mall called jackson high or something like that. Dollar stores run rampant. I’m guessing the old eaton centre has 3 stores max. I have always been the biggest supporter of this town but it’s become so depressing. So many people avoid the core.
    The sad part is that the politicians do nothing about it. We need fresh blood in city hall who actually care about the city and don’t just collect $$ to line their wallets.

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  15. I used to work at the Gap in the HEC during the mid 1990s,and even then the amll was an interesting place where there was ‘higher end’ retail as well as homeless guys asking for change at the same time.
    When I was there, our Gap (the ONLY Gap at the time) was across from Eddie Bauer,and next to an expesive shoe store; there was a big La Vie En Rose (think Victoria’s Secret), a Body Shop, and other “it” stores of the time as well as the big Eaton’s that I loved. There was a full food court,complete with smoking section (yes,you COULD still smoke inside then!). I left the HEC there in 1997 after graduation to work at the Gap in Limeridge , which as killing our store sales. Most of the retail was moving then, and once Eaton’s was gone, that was pretty much the end.
    I was back inthe mall in 2006,and while the Jackson Square part seemed more or less okay still, the HECpart was a barren waste with the occasional dollar store/sketchy rug merchant, along with a large Indian marketplace (which was the better part). It”s a kind of weird gangrenous limb on the City portion…because it’s all attacbed they can’t let it die,but it’s probably too far gone to resurrect as it was. It’ll be interesting to see what becomes of both retail parts,thought I think Jackson Square is more likely to survive than the HEC.

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  16. I cant shop there anymore because i GET HOUNDED by homeless people asknig for money and I see young pregnant girls high on something….every time i go there i want to run away. Clean up this mall because its embarassing

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    stephanie Paquette Reply:

    you should be embarassed you doo even now those people and your judging them . For starters not all those teenages are pregnant their fat and their doctors put them, on lots of drugs for depression . Their doctors don’t want to deal with them. By the way you have a problem with these people. Call the Catholic Childrens Aid because more then half are involved with Children Aid and they have put those people down so much be cancelling visits, getting them fired from there jobs and kicked out of school so getting them kicked out of there place you want people to be embarassed about be embarassed about the children aid society. If you worked with or really now those people then you would understand. Instead of being a bitch who puts down people.

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    Ryan Reply:

    @stephanie Paquette, Wow ur message really made me laugh partially because you made no sense and partially because you sound like someone who would be seen at Jackson square. Your exactly the type of socialist trash Hamilton is full of and that’s why the mall like the rest of the city is dead and rotted. nobody wants to work and lives off the government and blames everyone and everything else for their problems. the reason no retailers are interested in setting up shop in that toilet of a mall is because welfare and baby bonus does not give Hamiltonians enough money to shop like people in normal cities can. Just sayin

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  17. I wish the homeless people played more musical instruments or at the very least cleaned up the streets for money. I’d give homeless people money if I thought they would do *something*, *anything* for it. Sitting on the street corner or following patrons around for handouts however I won’t respond to.

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  18. I LOVE Jackson Square! It’s the best place to go when I want to catch a sale, go to the library, or watch a movie. The prices are much cheaper than other malls, the food court is very diverse. There are many renovations in the making currently, and I can’t wait to see it all finished.

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  19. It’s sad what has become of the downtown core of Hamilton. The mall is a joke, and the rest of the area isn’t much better.
    How about ripping down the whole core, except Gore park, and doing it over again. Couldn’t be any worse then it is.

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    John Reply:

    The funny thing is that this mall was the result of “urban renewal” in 1969. The entire superblock that Lloyd D Jackson Square and the Hamilton City Centre currently occupy used to be a community of small Heritage buildings including delis, butcher shops, drug stores, clothiers, etc. All the buildings were expropriated by the city and torn down even though many of the building were heritage buildings. Forty years later there are still mixed feelings about this among those who remember the old downtown (or have read about it as I have).

    So technically, this mall was a “start over”. Didn’t work so well.

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  20. Hamilton is a joke. Unforuntate considering its location and natural beauty that surronds it. Hamiltonions need to come together and make some noise for change. The city has the elements to be better

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  21. There should be a map of the existing stores and other facilities available. The map in some of the aisles in Jackson Square could be available on the internet so people can find where they want to go and not stumble around at Jackson Square or here on this website, where I couldn’t find anything of help. It is so sad that when a website is posted, that all things are not considered. Some sites are sophisticated enough to help the general public and give the RIGHT informaton!!
    Wake up administration office and help Hamilton a little bit if you want the shoppers to populate there.

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  22. I just moved to hamilton from toronto last year. i had to go downtown to re-apply for my health card. jackson square is right across the street.
    My wife and I decided to check it out and it was quite lively when we were there. this was nov. or dec. 2009. i have to say it’s not much different from Torontos downtown eatons centre. You have all the homeless and young teens hanging around out front. But no different then torontos eaton centre or Yorkdale mall. I was only through part of the mall, but what I did see of it was quite populated with costumers

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  23. I remember going downtown as a kid in the mid 80s when LD Jackson Square and the old Eaton’s building were still a hub of activity – and so were the stores along King and it’s intersecting streets. I was able to take the bus downtown as a 11-12 year old and not be frightened. It was a great time. You could find anything there – I’d sometimes go with my grandmothers – they could shop for their stuff, I could shop for records. Each Christmas I try to spend money either at these malls or at least downtown. Jackson Square and HCC have been useless to me for years now, except for the market and movies. When I go to shows at Hamilton Place I do marvel at what an intelligent design the entire amalgamation of structures is – the mall, Hamilton Place, Hamilton Convention Centre, The Art Gallery of Hamilton, City Hall, The Sheraton Hotel, parking – all interconnected and easily accessible on foot and close to the small shops and heritage buildings on James Street and King Street.
    I wish I was a city planner so I could confidently say what Hamilton needs to come to life again. Lower taxes? Less welfare? More people living in the core? One thing I notice now that my sister lives in Toronto is how dead Hamilton is at night or on the weekends. It is not inviting and I don’t know anyone who goes downtown at those times without a specific purpose. I used to live in the Durand neighbourhood and it was awesome. Now I live on “the mountain” and although everything I need is close – it does feel a bit soul-less. I think my heart is downtown, embedded in the marble lobbies of the heritage buildings my grandmother used to take me to, “just to see” – or in the lingering record stores I’ve frequented since I was young. My fingerprints are still on some of those record dividers and I’m sure my footsteps etched a path in the concrete between all the old movie theatres I wish were still there.

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  24. Bravo – you said it all. Maybe you should forward this on to our new mayor — Bob Bratina.

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  25. Yes PLEASE, someone, send this to the new mayor! He promised us pride in Hamilton, so let’s hope he does tackle Jackson Square… I love going there, but once it starts getting dark, I feel a little uncomfortable. I’ve got to say that a lot of that uncomfortable feeling is,
    a.) getting confused and lost without a mall map,
    b.) the outside environment – I DON’T like exiting from my shopping experience to confront multiple strip joints just down the street,
    c.) the emptiness – the Farmers’ Market is the BEST idea to have put in Jackson Square, it’s really doing a lot for it, but we do need more merchants. And a variety of merchants, at that!

    Why the heck doesn’t Jackson Square just invest in a few more cleaning persons, and some advertising?? C’monnn Hamilton! I can’t wait to see what Bratina brings to the table.

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  26. the passport office did not move across the st..it went from the 3rd floor to its own area on the plaza level where the waterfalls is .it is bigger and serves more people…Maps are available at 100 king st west at the front desk beside TD bank..security desk..Market renovated 11million…there are no more gangs skin heads deadout leader in jail. Vietnamese too much police presence left…no one has evey died in jackson sq ..Limeridge cant say that..Food Festival is new and bigger with more stores serving food..

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  27. The main problem with this Mall is the management. They work hard to rent the retailing section of the mall & they don’t put much effort on the vacant offices.
    The lady who manage this place does not even have the basic management skills….One time my boss went to rent some spaces to move our offices from james street to there…. He left her 3 messages but no answer. He talked to her secretary & explained to her his needs . She promised to call back with an answer… but no luck….Later on we learnt that a new owner is on the process & the Manager is not interested to do any extra work because she may leave too.

    This kind of huge & beautiful Malls need smart & experienced management to run.

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  28. I am a newcomer to Hamilton and to whole of Canada. Came here on a two year research and study stint. I used to live in the west side of the town when I came in first. People used to scare me about downtown areas. 4 months back I moved closer to downtown and has never repented it. For me Jackson mall is exemplified by the huge, renovated, marvellous central library, the Farmer’s market (renovated, too) and the movies. I actually didn’t know what the mall is connected to the Hamilton Place and AGH. That only makes me lot ethe place more because I feel it is a gift to have library, performance centre and an art gallery all in one interconnected unit. Yes, the shops are rather down market but no complaints yet some of them are really good (Like the new renovated Coles).

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  29. I have lived in Hamilton downtown core for over 10 years now. Coming from a rural town of Binbrook to Hess Street was a BIG change for me.

    The first thing I noticed living downtown is the convenience. No more taking the car to go two miles down the street for a variety store. I just have to walk out the door, and the convenience store is right across the street. I am a 5 minute walk to Jackson Square.

    Now the negative. One of the comments said that it was “dead” at night. Well, being across from Hess Village, unfortunately, it is VERY LOUD with DRUNKS, EVERY NIGHT! There is NO break from it. I live in a building with NO air conditioning, so I HAVE TO keep the window open for air.

    People SCREAMING EVERY NIGHT.. YOOOUUU.. WHOOOO!!!!… There was some idiot putting his girlfriends in a shopping cart, and pushed them down the hill without holding on to it.. and they were screaming. Just yesterday, there was a fist fight on the corner of Hess and Jackson, and before I could tell the 911 operator what’s going on, the cops were right there.

    The good thing living on Hess Street is the convenience, the bad thing is the CONSTANT NOISE.

    At the beginning, I told both FORMER mayors of Hamilton about the noise, and NOTHING was done about it!!! One of the office staff gave me a number to call regarding noise, and THAT WAS A JOKE! I called, and the man on the other line said, “the bars just let them out (this was around 2:30 a.m. in the morning), let them pass.”
    NOTHING WAS DONE ABOUT IT TO THIS DAY!
    I haven’t had a GOOD NIGHT SLEEP in about 10 years!

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  30. [...] research for an upcoming piece on Lloyd D. Jackson Square, I happened to come across the article ‘Hamilton City Centre/Lloyd Jackson Square; Hamilton, Ontario, Canada’. Here’s an [...]

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