I thought I might start with one of the most interesting malls that I found: The Iverson Mall in Hillcrest Heights, Maryland. Located along Maryland Route 5 about a mile or so outside of the District of Columbia, just over the border from D.C.’s notorious Anacostia neighborhood, this 526,731 square foot center is one of the oldest–if not THE oldest–enclosed mall in Prince Georges County, Maryland. The two-level Iverson Mall opened on September 21, 1967 with Montgomery Ward and Woodward & Lothrop as anchor stores, though as you might imagine neither still exists today. It also bucks the trend of most urban malls: according to this flyer (PDF warning, though it includes a directory and a photo, making it well worth clicking), it’s even the highest-grossing shopping mall in PG County, with a vacancy rate of only 2%. Unlike most older malls, the Iverson Mall website even–refreshingly–includes some information about its heritage, including a historic newspaper advertisement for the mall, a vintage photo of an old pylon, and an aerial shot that shows the mall’s weirdest architectural feature: a tunnel.
That’s right. Part of the reason why the Iverson Mall was such an incredible find was that–not only was it incredibly old and not only did it still boast some great ’60s vintage decor–but the two level mall and its rear parking garage are cantilevered right over Iverson Street, a four-lane divided parkway. The northern wing of the mall, which is the old Woodward & Lothrop store that is today home to a Value City, is the larger end of the mall and is two levels. It stretches all the way to Iverson Street, where the second level continues straight over the roadway while the first level exits straight out to the street itself. The mall continues south of Iverson Street, with a smaller section that once lead to Montgomery Ward and is today home to a furniture store and several other tenants that are supposed to be coming soon. It again has a lower level, which exits out onto Iverson Street. Essentially, to continue walking straight along the ground floor of the mall, it’s necessary to exit the mall, cross four lanes of traffic, and then re-enter the mall across the street. It’s only possible to stay inside of the mall by walking across on the second level. Take a look at the satellite photo (or the aerial photo above) if I’ve confused you. You won’t be sorry; it’s pretty neat!
From some of the exterior architecture (which I haven’t represented well here, unfortunately), it seems that large sections of the mall were built out of existing buildings that were sort of cobbled together, especially in the spaces closest to Iverson Street. Oh, and there are some more Iverson Mall photos here; in particular there’s a shot that better represents the groovy spiral staircase in the mall’s center, which I neglected to shoot.