When I was down in Washington, DC over the fourth of July weekend, I swung by the now-closed Landover Mall in Landover, once the largest mall in Maryland’s large, sprawling Prince George’s County. I’d known the mall was troubled (and possibly dead), but I found that I unfortunately missed the boat on ever getting inside.
I do, however, think that my trip was relatively well-timed because I was able to get this set of shots of the half-demolished rubble. While peeling back the skin of the building, the excavation revealed some really neat artifacts–most notably, the fully-intact, formerly interior-facing “Garfinckel’s” sign from an anchor store that closed in 1990 and was never replaced!
The Landover Mall was built in 1972 and owned and operated by Lerner Enterprises, the owner of several popular mall-based retail chains. The mall was initially very successful due to its strategic location at the eastern edge of the Washington, DC beltway, and sported Hecht’s, Woodward & Lothrop, Sears, and Garfinckel’s as anchor stores. Even though the Washington, DC area is pretty heavily-malled, the Landover Mall’s location still seems strong, especially given that other nearby malls (such as the Iverson Mall, the Forest Village Park Mall, or the also-shuttered Capital Plaza Mall) are much smaller.
The mall’s decline began in the late 1980s, in a time when concerns were growing about the safety of the area and the development of newer centers further out in suburbia was booming. Lerner Enterprises’ relatively disengaged management style didn’t seem to help either. Garfinckel’s went out bankrupt in 1990, Woodward & Lothrop closed their store five years later. JCPenney briefly replaced them in 1998, but closed their store just three years later when they were unable to stem the tide of the mall’s decline. Hecht’s also fled the mall upon the opening of the outdoor Bowie Town Center in 2001, leaving Sears as the lone anchor store at the mall. The mall was finally shuttered in 2002, although Sears has persevered and was even still upon when we visited.
All of the outdoor, rubble photos on this page were taken by us on July 1, 2006, with the exception of the following two great shots taken of the mall interior in 2002, and the above image of the mall’s pylon lit up at night. These were graciously loaned to us by our friend Gary at the DC Grocery MSN Group. These photos are copyrighted (and not mine), so don’t steal ‘em and make me look like a jerk. They also have MANY more available on their site if you want to dig in deeper!