The Shops at Ithaca Mall (Pyramid Mall)/Triphammer Mall; Ithaca, New York

Pyramid Mall in Ithaca, NY

Ithaca, New York is a small college city located in upstate/western New York, about an hour and a half southwest of Syracuse. With a permanent population of only about 30,000 residents, Ithaca itself is relatively small, but the presence of two large universities–Cornell University and Ithaca College–means that there’s a constant parade of new residents in town, and causes Ithaca to act as something of an island quite different from its surrounding environs in the Fingerlakes region of New York. As the bumper stickers say, “Ithaca is Gorges!”

Ithaca also has a unique mall landscape. The city is home to no less than four enclosed malls of some shape or form, although only one of them is a traditional enclosed mall. Near downtown are two centers that we don’t have photos of: the small yet worthwhile (and, at this point, a bit shabby) Center Mall, located just off the downtown pedestrian mall, which is tenanted with a variety of small and mostly local shops, and the DeWitt Mall, a tiny center in a converted high school that is filled entirely with funky local merchants.

On the city’s north side, however, are a pair of more suburban malls that we’re going to cover here in a single post: The Shops at Ithaca Mall (known until 2009 as the Pyramid Mall) and the Triphammer Mall, located just about a block apart along Triphammer Road at the junction of route 13.

Pyramid Mall in Ithaca, NY

The Shops at Ithaca Mall is a classic example of one of the malls developed by the Syracuse-based Pyramid Companies. Opening in 1976, the mall was relatively typical for what Pyramid was building at the time, which is an ever-so-slightly “v” shaped, one level, 600,000 square foot mall (very similar to the Hampshire Mall in Hadley, Massachusetts, or the Aviation Mall in Queensbury, NY). There were a few details to set the Shops at Ithaca Mall apart from other malls developed by the Pyramid Cos., however, and the most notable is the very unusual second-floor balcony area in the center court, on top of the food court. The food court–named the Cafe Square–was originally built with several sit down restaurants on the second level above the main court area, although this was converted to additional seating for the food court restaurants in the mid-1980s, and is almost always closed today (I’ve visited the mall twice, in 2000 and 2006, and it was chained off both times).

The Pyramid Mall’s original anchors were JCPenney, Montgomery Ward, JW Rhodes, and Hill’s, although all four of those anchors are gone today. The mall was sold by Pyramid in 2007 or 2008 and renamed The Shops at Ithaca Mall by its new owners.

  • JW Rhodes > Became The Bon-Ton, now located in an odd space accessed by several side hallways leading to the parking lot (check the directory to see what I mean).
  • JCPenney > Shut in 2001 during a round of closings when they were in trouble, the space has been converted to a trio of big box stores: Dick’s Sporting Goods, Borders Books and Music, and Best Buy.
  • Montgomery Ward > In 2002, the former Wards space was carved up and expanded, to house new stores for AC Moore, Old Navy, and Target. It actually appears that the mall blasts straight through the old Ward’s space, with AC Moore and Old Navy each taking half of the old Wards and Target occupying an entirely new building on the outside of the former Ward’s store. I’ve seen this done before only once, at the Mid-Hudson Mall in Kingston, NY.
  • Hills > Acquired by Ames in 1999 and vacant since 2002, the space is rumored to be the future home of an expanded and relocated Regal Cinemas.

Pyramid Mall in Ithaca, NY Pyramid Mall in Ithaca, NY Pyramid Mall in Ithaca, NY

Pyramid Mall in Ithaca, NY Pyramid Mall in Ithaca, NY Pyramid Mall in Ithaca, NY

Pyramid Mall in Ithaca, NY Pyramid Mall in Ithaca, NY Pyramid Mall in Ithaca, NY Pyramid Mall in Ithaca, NY

Pyramid Mall in Ithaca, NY Pyramid Mall in Ithaca, NY Pyramid Mall in Ithaca, NY Pyramid Mall in Ithaca, NY
The Triphammer Mall, just south of route 13, is much more of a rarity. While it’s not a traditional mall in the classic sense, it is enclosed (although not climate-controlled). The glass-encased plaza contains a curious mixture of local and national merchants, and was chilly and eerily quiet upon our visit in October of 2006.

Triphammer Mall in Ithaca, NY Triphammer Mall in Ithaca, NY Triphammer Mall in Ithaca, NY

Triphammer Mall in Ithaca, NY Triphammer Mall in Ithaca, NY Triphammer Mall in Ithaca, NY

Triphammer Mall in Ithaca, NY Triphammer Mall in Ithaca, NY Triphammer Mall in Ithaca, NY

56 Responses to “The Shops at Ithaca Mall (Pyramid Mall)/Triphammer Mall; Ithaca, New York”

  1. One of the more distinctive malls of the pack and what a name! Triphammer!

    Funny you mention Hampshire Mall – have you been there lately? Half of the mall is trapped in time as it appears Pyramid pulled another one of their twilight renovations relative to the Aviation Mall and this one by only rehabing part of it while leaving the other in some yesteryear.

    The picture that stands out the most here is certainly that time warp tunnel (image 6).

    Another observation I’ve noticed is all of those Pyramid malls you mentioned were all saved by Target. It seems they fit right into the Pyramid scheme (yes, I’ve used it before)!

    [Reply]

    erstwhile Ithacan Reply:

    @XISMZERO, A triphammer is a mechanical hammer that crushes grain, ore, anything. Must have been one at one time on Triphammer Rd. Once was a clothing store at Triphammer Mall called Country Couple. Bought a nice suit there while in law school. Buying that suit in 1977 was the first time I heard an item produced overseas referred to as produced “offshore.” Made me think it was made on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

    [Reply]

  2. Finally you get to this mall (my former hometown mall’s). A few additional points about both of them. First about Pyramid Mall. JW Rhodes was a standalone department store owned by Pyramid placed here because in 1979-80, Pyramid was unable to attract a upscale department store to this mall due to the community size (30,000 in the City of Ithaca, about 90-95,000 in the county). It was reasonably successful, leading to its purchase by Bon-Ton. Second, The Ward’s store was closed in 1997, with Old Navy opening in part of the space in about 2000. The Target was added on by tearing out the remainder of the former Ward’s in 2002. As far as the Penney’s end, as part of the reconfiguration of the space to its present status, a small addition was built which houses most of the Dick’s store. The Cafe Square has undergone the most change here, having had at one point, a large gazebo (typically used for Santa, the Easter Bunny, and other community events) with a moat like series of fountains with seating surrounding it two steps below the main floor level. This was removed, along with all of the original mall decor, in a large scale renovation in 1986. Finally, I’m surprised this site didn’t bring up the movie theater and it’s lack of access to the mall interior despite being connected to the mall. Originally the theater here(then a 4 screen theater) was connected directly into Cafe Square via an interior hallway located where the current entrance is today that leads to an exterior entrance. This was changed in 1987 when the first expansion of the theater took place, going from 4 to 8 theaters (later reduced to 7 after one of the original theaters was eliminated to build the Sears store, before the last expansion in the mid 90’s to its current 10 screen configuration.)

    As far as Triphammer Mall, I ‘m not sure when it was built (Probably early to mid 60’s, after the section of Route 13 running by the malls was built), but for years, the two main anchors were Jamesway and an A&P store. The Jamesway closed in the late 80’s, with a small warehouse club (can’t remember the name, not BJ’s) occupying the space for about 2 years. before its eventual conversion into several store spaces. The A&P was the last holdout in Upstate, finally closing its doors in early 2002, and being converted, in part, to a Klein’s All Sports (who moved from their former location at the current site of the Bon-Ton home store in Pyramid Mall when the Dick’s store was built), until their bankruptcy in 2004.

    The thing about the Ithaca and Binghamton area is their calling any assemblage of a bunch of stores, whether enclosed or strip, a mall (Town Square Mall in suburban Binghamton, Cayuga Mall in Ithaca, both town’s so-called Small Mall’s, all strip centers with the mall surname attached). Are there any other areas with this phenomenon?

    [Reply]

  3. http://magazine.14850.com/0108/lettertotops.html

    This article says that A&P opened in 1966. Maybe that’s when the mall opened.

    By the way, what’s the top mini-anchor in the pic of the mall directory? “Kay’s” something?

    [Reply]

  4. http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=13283069&BRD=1395&PAG=461&dept_id=216617&rfi=6

    According to this article, the mall opened in 1964.

    [Reply]

  5. I believe it’s a sewing machine & fabrics store, at least from looking online. BTW, thanks on getting the opening date for Triphammer Mall. I could have gotten it, but at 4:45 AM my brain wasn’t functioning (no thanks to the tow truck/car alarm combination that woke me up.)

    Anther nugget about Triphammer Mall is at one point there was a Sears Catalog store located here that closed when the normal Sears’ store opened in Pyramid Mall. Also, I never understood how both of these malls could have Radio Shacks’ located in them, since there can only be so much demand for stereo cable in the Ithaca area, right???

    [Reply]

  6. Just to let you know, in Kingston, it’s the Hudson Valley Mall.

    Also, the Pyramid Mall in Ithaca is the ONLY one of the original three Pyramid Malls to still exist. Hampshire Mall and Aviation Mall were both built a year later.

    [Reply]

  7. As far as the other two malls mentioned briefly in Jason’s post, Center Ithaca (The official name) opened in 1981 as a festival marketplace, housing mostly upscale and artistic crafts, with office and residential above. This bombed miserably, due to a combination of Ithaca being too small of an area to sustain a festival marketplace mall and the closure of the adjacent Rothschild’s department store in 1982. The original owners of Center Ithaca went bankrupt, and as part of the bank takeover, the entire retail section of the building was renovated into conventional store spaces in 1986 and an entrance was extended into the adjacent Iszard’s Department Store, which had opened in the Rothschild’s space. This reconfiguration worked well for several years, housing mostly local businesses, with a couple of national retailers (B. Dalton and maybe one or two others.) as well as a two screen theater (Cinemopolis) showing mostly art house films in the basement. However in the mid 90’s, McCurdy’s (who had purchased the Iszard’s store adjacent to Center Ithaca, closed their store, followed closely behind by the closing of the Woolworth’s store across the street from Center Ithaca. Although these spaces were eventually filled (the Mc Curdy’s was turned into classrooms, offices, and a couple of streetfront retail spaces; and the Woolworth’s was converted into the Tompkins County Public Library) they were not able to bring in the traffic to downtown that the previous uses were, especially considering the change in the greater marketplace toward big box stores. Now in 2007, Center Ithaca is struggling, with about half of its street level space empty, the on-street parking and parking garage being demolished as part of a larger mixed use project, and the Cinemopolis space about to be vacated as part of the building of a larger movie theater complex combining the two art film theaters in Ithaca and its future is uncertain.

    Jason was on the money about the De Witt Mall being a former school building. At one point,it was to be demolished, but a local developer bought the building in 1972-73 and renovated the space as a mixed use building, including the basement retail, offices, and apartments.

    [Reply]

    erstwhile Ithacan Reply:

    @Chris Whittaker, Best thing about Dewitt Mall is Moosewood Restaurant, in my opinion.

    [Reply]

  8. Seeing the Steinbach article reminded me that one of the original mini anchors of this mall was Howland’s, a Utica based chain eventually bought out by Steinbach, located between Cafe Square and the former JC Penney store.. When this store closed in 1986, part of the store became 2 or 3 storefronts, while the back portion became part of the theater expansion mentioned above.

    [Reply]

  9. er, my bad, Howland and Steinbach were always the same company, just a name change in 1985 or so, followed closely behind by the store closing.

    [Reply]

  10. Just did a piece on Hampshire Mall myself. Although built a few years later, Hampshire Mall is decidedly stuck in what I like to call a twilight of times.

    http://thecaldorrainbow.blogspot.com/2007/04/hampshire-mall-hadley-massachusetts.html

    [Reply]

  11. See in the first picture, of Sears? What’s the food court store next to Sears and Cyberstation? The mall store list: http://www.pyramidithaca.com/pyr2_store.taf?_function=alphabetical doesn’t list it.

    [Reply]

  12. If it is the one in front of a portion of Cyberstation, then it would be Sicilian Delight, a local pizza place, in a slot that originally housed a Subway when the mall was opened. If it is the space that is between the two stores, than it would be a hallway leading to the parking lot and the former Regal Cinema site. Speaking of which, the new Regal Cinema location has opened in the former Hills/Ames location in this mall in a newly constructed section of the mall. The entrance to this theater is from an interior hallway extending through from the former Hills entrance to the rear parking lot of the mall. From the looks of it (I was in Ithaca last week and went to a movie there), there will be retail (probably sit-down restaurant) space across this hallway from the theater. This will provide competition for the Friendly’s located adjacent to Cafe Square and the Applebees located in the shopping center located on the former site of a Howard Johnson’s motel/restaurant adjacent to the mall.

    [Reply]

  13. In the Pyramid directory, what’s that little white map near Target? Is that the map of the upper level?

    [Reply]

  14. Yeah, just mall offices on the upper level.

    [Reply]

  15. The mall looks painfully ugly, and there are way too many big box stores. What I suggest is an auxilary big box center to take away all the big boxes except Old Navy and Target. Old Navy needs to move to a less-conspicous location. Then, bring in the stores! Actually, turn the old Old Navy and AC Moore into Super Target, bring back JCPenney into the old Regal Cinemas (reconfigure the space so JCPenney is in a new building and stuff). Then, turn the old JCPenney space into a Belk.

    [Reply]

  16. Belk?! There aren’t any Belk stores within a million miles of NY!

    [Reply]

  17. Sorry….uh…Century 21.

    [Reply]

  18. I’m a bit confused. This mall does fine–why would they ever need to dramatically reconfigure it like you’re suggesting?

    [Reply]

  19. I wouldn’t say Belk is a million miles from New York. It is only 216 miles from New York City! Yep, Westminster, MD has your typical little dowdy Belk branch. Kind of in the middle of nowhere. How and why it’s there is anyone’s guess.

    While we are (briefly) on the subject of Belk, there should be a “moment of silence” for all mall enthusiasts on Wednesday as all remaining Parisian stores become …Belk. Yes there are a few upper-end Belk branches, few and far between, but the loss of Parisian will be felt pretty hard in some important Southern markets. On the mens side, gone is the high end private Parisian Signature label, expensive golfwear and large exclusive designer selections. They are now replaced with Izod and Dockers.

    To many, Parisian (from Birmingham) was as close as some smaller cities ever came to a store of Saks’ quality with unparalled service. The stores were distinctive and any mall that had Parisian as an anchor wore it like a badge of honor. As recent as this Spring, the Summit lifestyle center in Birmingham tried to sue in order to stop the changeover to Belk. Belk is Belk and if you know Belk you know what I mean. (Yeah, yeah Southpark in Charlotte or Crabtree in Raleigh is an exception.) They promise to build on Parisian’s legacy. So sad.

    So on Wednesday, Cheers and goodbye to Parisian. (Except for the 2 in Michigan owned by Bon-Ton that strangely continue.) You will be missed. Belk may be a million miles from NY but Parisian was as close to NY as Short Hills, in spirit.

    [Reply]

  20. Make that three Parisians in Michigan, one’s still under construction.

    And I wouldn’t reconfigure Pyramid Mall either, it looks just fine.

    [Reply]

  21. Jonah, the problem with trying to do an auxiliary big-box center in the vicinity of the now called Shops at Ithaca Mall (probably the worst name I have heard this year) is that any developer would have to deal with the Village and Town of Lansing, which has become extremely anti-growth over the last two decades or so. An example of this is in the attempt of several big-box stores to purchase land to the north of the mall over the last several years. Just the rumor of purchase has been enough to kill any hopes of building there. As a result, the big-box stores have become split in the Ithaca area, with one group in the area of this mall and the other along Route 13 in the vicinity of the area where the mall was originally proposed to go, a mostly floodprone area that was once the county fairgrounds, almost all of which have finally been built over the last 5 years (after 10 years of battling the local anti-big box coalitions). This area has the both of the area’s big box home improvement superstores, Wal-Mart (not a supercenter), K-Mart, Kohl’s, Staples, Barnes & Noble, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Michael’s, Petsmart, Top’s & a very large Wegman’s (replacing the original store that was sinking into the swamp that it was built on). Even with a

    [Reply]

  22. Hello, I am a college student in Ithaca and am designing a real-life project for my Decision Modeling class. I am thinking about developing a decision model on whether or not to expand Pyramid Mall (pls allow me to stick with this old name for the sake of convenience), and if so, how. I’m very excited to find such a nice and rich blog just on this tiny mall!!!

    Would any of you have any ideas, comments, suggestions as to how P Mall could/should be improved? Or do you oppose the idea entirely? I’m not a local Ithaca resident and may have limited knowledge about the community and the local history. I would really really appreciate your input =)

    THANKS!!!

    [Reply]

  23. Go back to a name that at least decent, and look at a few comments up.
    Also, the blog is not exclusively on this mall, there are many others too.

    My question is, it seemed like the Cafe Square was a lot better place in the ’70s.

    For example, the Cafe Square:
    The Cafe Square area originally was set up with a gazebo in the center, used for fashion shows, Santa, and the Easter Bunny with seating surrounding it. Also, there were a couple of local sit down restaurants that occupied the top areas of the Cafe Square. All of this changed when Pyramid renovated the mall in the mid 80’s, removing the gazebo and converting the sit down restaurants into overflow seating for Cafe Square

    Any more info on this?

    [Reply]

  24. I have another question: was JW Rhodes converted to the Bon Ton, or did it close and The Bon Ton take its place?

    [Reply]

  25. S. Grumbacher & Son (The Bon-Ton) acquired J.W. Rhodes in Ithaca, NY in 1991. That purchase began a NY-state shopping spree of also acquiring Buffalo’s AM&A’s, Rochester’s McCurdy’s and Syracuse’s Chappell’s. Within 6 months in 1994, the Bon-Ton doubled its size to 69 stores. Only the McCurdy’s stores, which were part of a hard fought court battle with May, had closed their doors for remodling before opening as fully renovated Bon-Ton stores. McCurdy stores were dark for about 6 months during the city-wide renovations.

    [Reply]

  26. (raises hand)

    Question 1) With the relocated theater, how has this changed the floor plan near the former Ames?

    2) What will become of the former theater space?

    3) What were the stores here when it opened?

    [Reply]

  27. As in “it”, the mall. Sorry about that.

    [Reply]

  28. Calling a strip center a “mall”? Yah, in Hewitt (suburb of Waco TX) there’s a depressing strip mall (anchored by an IGA) called “Hewitt Mall”.

    [Reply]

  29. Jonah

    1. Instead of a store, there is now a long hallway leading to the rear parking lot, with the Theater on the right and a very smallish Steve and Barry’s store on the left.

    2) Not sure , but from the sounds of it, it might be part of a lifestyle component

    3) Right now, it is getting to the point where the original stores are almost all gone. The Arcade is still in the same place (Originally Just Fun, now Cyberstation) and the Regis hairstylist, Radio Shack (after a couple of moves) and Friendly’s restaurant is still there. Other than that, the turnover is almost complete after 30 plus years.

    4) Back to your earlier comment, by modernizing the mall in the 80’s, all the character was sucked out of it. I wish I could find pictures online of the gazebo area and the original Cafe Square, but I have failed so far.

    [Reply]

  30. http://www.pyramidithaca.com/mimages/lease.pdf is a lease plan of the mall, to show how space is divided now.

    [Reply]

  31. It still does not say as to what the old Regal Cinemas will be. Maybe they can blast through the vacant store there and build a hallway. Then turn it into a big box.

    [Reply]

  32. Here is a link to the article about the possible expansion of the mall that would tie in the former regal Cinemas site to a lifestyle component

    http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=19024440&BRD=1395&PAG=461&dept_id=546876&rfi=6

    [Reply]

  33. According to here…

    http://cinema.14850.com/0718regalopening.html

    Pyramid Companies is no longer the owner of The Shops at Ithaca Mall.
    Furthermore, this interview sheds more light on the name change.

    http://www.lansingstar.com/content/view/2639/77/

    They might choose to remodel it. However, Pyramid Cos. still lists the “Pyramid Mall Ithaca” on their website. Maybe they’re just lazy. Wonder if it’s a trend…

    [Reply]

  34. Any idea who owns Triphammer Mall? Does anyone know where I might find a list of current tenants?

    [Reply]

  35. I’m confused – have they changed the name from Pyramid Mall to Ithaca Mall?

    [Reply]

  36. Yes. “The theatre opens at the same time the mall seeks to establish a new identity. No longer affiliated with the Syracuse-based Pyramid Companies, the mall, actually based in the Village of Lansing overlooking the City of Ithaca and Cayuga Lake, has announced its new name is “The Shops at Ithaca Mall.””

    [Reply]

  37. are the pyramid companies for sale? is the bank in charge? or what?

    [Reply]

  38. Who runs the Pyramid company, Dick Clark? LOL I mean who ever it is, has no clue what they are doing. Easily one of the worst run mall outfits out there.

    [Reply]

  39. d book and Sean: No, this mall was merely sold off to another company. Pyramid Companies itself is not for sale and it is debatable how bad their mall management. Try to stay on topic.

    [Reply]

  40. do you know who bought the mall for fact? Did they purchase all of Pyramids properties?

    [Reply]

  41. No, go to the website and see for yourself. The new company does not own any other Pyramid malls.

    [Reply]

  42. As suspected, the former site of the Regal Theaters in the mall will be a component of the proposed new lifestyle area of the mall, as shown by this updated site plan:

    http://www.theshopsatithacamall.com/mimages/development.pdf

    A new entrance to the mall adjacent to Best Buy will also be constructed (finally, IMHO).

    [Reply]

  43. Steve and Barry’s is closing at this mall.

    http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2008/09/steve_barrys_here_survives_cut.html

    [Reply]

  44. At least now Pyramid can market the storefront for a restaurant site. The mall needs a sit-down place other than Friendly’s

    [Reply]

  45. How can Triphammer Mall be considered a true “mall”? It’s not climate-controlled: it’s just an open-air mall with a glass enclosure.

    [Reply]

  46. “Who runs the Pyramid company, Dick Clark?”

    No, it’s Bob Stewart.

    [Reply]

  47. Triphammer Mall is owned by Dick Thaler, also a local lawyer.

    Syracuse-based Pyramid Companies is owned by Robert Congel.

    The former A&P Supermaker then Klien’s All-Sport then Homeworks space in Triphammer Mall is now under construction to become a Kinney Drugs. When Rite-Aid purchased Eckerd, they closed the Triphammer Mall store in favour of the Eckerd location in the Cayuga “Mall” across NY13.

    Radio Shack closed all stores in the Ithaca area except for the one in the Ithaca Mall. That location was then moved closer to Borders.

    In Cafe Square, Wendy’s closed and Sicilian Delight moved to that location. The upper seating areas are often open during lunch times.

    [Reply]

    Chris Whittaker Reply:

    Also, a BBQ place recently went into the old Sicilian Delight location and a Planet Fitness recently opened across from the new movie theater.

    [Reply]

  48. Does anyone remember the name of the warehouse club that was in Triphammer Mall in the 1990s in the old Jamesway store?????

    [Reply]

    Paul Reply:

    @Linda Stock,

    Warehouse Depot, or something like that. A co-worker substituted a letter or two in the name making it non-complementary, yet memorable. Even after 17 years. They were reconfiguring the place shortly after I moved to town, and a worker was killed during the project. (That would have been summer/early fall 1992.)

    [Reply]

  49. Well, I made my biannual trip back home this month, and saw some things that haven’t been mentioned here. Much of the mall has been turned over to non-traditional uses mixed in with the regular stuff, including a SPCA annex, a glowgolf course, a sales area for 4 wheelers and go-karts, a bouncehouse complex, and the newest addition, a MMA training center that recently took over the former Borders location.

    [Reply]

  50. Wholesale Depot was the name of the club in Triphammer Mall. Great place. Far better than a BJs or Costco.

    [Reply]

  51. Your right Caldor the old Hills is now an expanded Regal Cinemas and more mall space Unfortunately Sears closed in late 2014

    [Reply]

  52. Some smaller original stores at Pyramid Mall in Ithaca that I remember: County Seat (sold Levi’s Jeans), Foxmoor, Casual Corner, The WeatherVane, Kaybee Toy and Hobby, and a record store whose name I can’t remember. One of the second floor restaurants in Cafe Square was called Beaujolais. I remember there was an OrangeJulius stand and a Subway restaurant. The gazebo and fountains were pretty — much nicer than the austere industrial look the place has now.

    [Reply]

Leave a Reply


6 × = thirty six