No trip to New Jersey would be complete without at least a few stops in the jungle of freeways and dense suburbia that forms Northern New Jersey. A sprawling, faux-city stretching 50 miles east to west and twice as long north to south, the area is one of the most massive swaths of American suburbia, complete with many large, vintage shopping malls.
We’ve discussed a few of the malls in Paramus–New Jersey’s undisputed shopping hub–before. Not far to the west, however, lies Wayne, a major retail center of its own. Wayne is home to three enclosed shopping centers, the largest of which is the super-regional Willowbrook Mall, a General Growth Property located at the intersection of US 46, route 23, and interstate 80, just west of Paterson. The mall is the lynchpin of a major retail district that includes, among other things, a lawn ornament store made famous when a power-pop band–Fountains of Wayne–decided to name themselves after it. The 1.5 million square-foot Willowbrook, which is the second-largest mall in New Jersey, is so large that it even spawned its own mini-me in the Wayne Towne Center, a smaller enclosed mall located in its parking lot. Weird!
Willowbrook opened as a smaller mall anchored by Ohrbach’s and Sears in 1969, and was renovated and expanded in 1970 and 1988. The massive, grand Macy’s store seen here–which was originally constructed as a Bamberger’s–is an especially fine example of 1970s mall architecture, with its dramatic stone-walled facade (it’s too bad I had to photograph it at night). The 200+ store mall is a “T”-shaped, primarily one-level center, but one wing of the “T” (stretching between the center court and Bloomingdale’s) is two levels, and the mall’s grand center court, expansive fountain, and outdoor plazas are gorgeous remnants of another era. For some photos of what the Willowbrook Mall used to look like, check out these great shots (especially this one) at Malls of America.
The Willowbrook Mall today is anchored by Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Sears, and Lord & Taylor. Some of the mall’s extreme success hinges off of blue laws in neighboring Bergen County (home of Paramus) that prohibit retail stores from opening on Sundays.
We’ll post about Wayne Towne Center, Willowbrook’s struggling mini-me,
shortly Sunday, December 3. These photos were all taken last Monday.