Smith Haven Mall; Lake Grove, New York

Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove, New York

It’s been a really long time since we featured a mall in the New York metropolitan area–probably a result of my moving out to the west cost, sorry guys–so let’s go back to Long Island’s Smith Haven Mall, with a set of pictures taken in May 2007.

The Smith Haven Mall is a 1.4 million square foot, hybrid indoor-outdoor enclosed shopping mall located on the north shore of Long Island, about halfway between New York and Orient Point. The mall originally opened in 1969 in a fairly mid-market-skewing portion of Long Island. I’m not 100% sure of the original anchors, but I am assuming that the original anchors were Stern’s, Sears, and A&S (though this could’ve always been a Macy’s).

Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove, New York

Newsday actually has a pretty informative article about the growth of enclosed shopping malls on Long Island, which touches briefly on Smith Haven:

In 1968-69, Klotz supervised the building of Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove. The project was made more difficult by Moriches Road, which ran through the proposed mall and had to be relocated.

Opening day also presented challenges. “It was a fiasco,” Klotz said. A water main break early in the morning cut off water to Smith Haven and led town officials to propose cancelling the grand opening because the sprinkler system and toilets wouldn’t work. “I told them, `We can’t cancel it. Thousands of people are going to show up and you don’t have enough police officers to turn them away,”‘ he recalled.

Town leaders agreed, allowing Klotz to invite volunteer fire departments to encircle Smith Haven with pumper trucks in return for allowing them to ask shoppers for donations, and to set up bucket brigades to keep the public toilets filled while a work crew fixed the broken water pipe by mid-afternoon.

But to Klotz what made Smith Haven unique were the works of art commissioned from sculpter Alexander Calder, painters Larry Rivers, Peter Max and others. Much later, sculptures were placed outside Roosevelt Field and The Source mall, both commemorating Charles A. Lindbergh’s solo air flight to France in 1927. (The Calder is still in Smith Haven’s food court, but the paintings are gone.)Placing fine art in shopping malls symbolized their growing importance in suburbia. They had become like cities to the surrounding housing developments, said William Severini Kowinski, who toured Long Island and other areas for his 1985 book, “The Malling of America.”

Ironically, the people who fled crowded neighborhoods in Queens and Brooklyn after World War II for their dream house with a yard in Levittown and other places found that they still needed a central place to meet neighbors, see a movie, shop or simply hang out. By default, he said, the mall became a new Main Street or corner store for these GIs and their families.

Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove, New York

Smith Haven Mall was somewhat notable for its incorporation of legitimate public art in the mall’s food court, as mentioned above. The inclusion of artwork of Rivers and Max was a nod to the original Gruen-esque concept for American shopping malls–that they should be a place of civic gathering and multi-purpose spaces not intended purely for commerce.

I’ve personally visited Smith Haven twice–in 2000 and 2007–and much changed between the two visits. In 2000, the center was fairly dated, and still retained traces of its original 1960s glamour. Also, at the time, Sterns still anchored the west end of the mall. Nowadays, the west end of the mall has been turned into a fairly standard “lifestyle village,” anchored by Dick’s Sporting Goods, Cheesecake Factory, Barnes & Noble, and some others, and a 2000s era renovation added modern lighting and softened the interior color palette. When we visited in 2007, there wasn’t much out there, other than Coldwater Creek, which seems positively allergic to enclosed malls.

Architecturally, Smith Haven Mall is a fairly prime example of the types of suburban centers built during the golden age of shopping malls in the late ’60s and early ’70s, with grand, imposing department stores that recalled their urban cousins, and a sprawling, open layout inside that vaguely mimiced the feel of an urban streetscape. The dramatic feel of the malls interior and exterior spaces wasn’t lost in the various renovations, even if the center doesn’t boast the retro glamour of, say, the Bergen Mall.
Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove, New York
Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove, New York Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove, New York Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove, New York Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove, New York

Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove, New York Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove, New York Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove, New York Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove, New York

Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove, New York Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove, New York Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove, New York Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove, New York

Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove, New York Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove, New York Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove, New York Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove, New York

31 Responses to “Smith Haven Mall; Lake Grove, New York”

  1. I see there are two different Macy’s stores pictured here, which I assume are the regular store and the home store. Which one has the older Macy’s sign and do you know if it still looks that way today?

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    keith Reply:

    the second macys is the macys furniture gallery.. its fairly new when they opened the lifestyle village like a year or two ago.

    there are also some updates… a lott of store closings. two jewelry stores are gone… payless and pacsun both remodeling. sharper image is gone and closed.
    oakley sunglasses store is opening soon.

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  2. I could be wrong, but isn’t that older Macy’s pic in Sunrise Mall in Massapequa? A&S at Smith Haven Mall became Stern’s and then it was torn down in favor of the lifestyle center.

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  3. OMG you guys are totes right. As you might imagine, those photos were right next to the Smith Haven shots in my camera, and a couple of the Macy’s shots got mixed in with these. I was obviously really tired (or really drunk, or both) when I wrote this. Anyway, they’re gone now!

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  4. I used to work for Sharper Image and one of my jobs was to go around to the new stores and set up the POS. When I got to our still-under-constuction site at Smith Haven, I was upset to find that they hadn’t even hooked up electricity yet. With nothing else to do, I found a bench in the mall, plugged my laptop into an outlet, and, using my Verizon Air Card, began to work. After about 5 minutes some self-important Mall Cop came up to tell me that I couldn’t sit on the bench to use my laptop and that I had no right to use the mall’s electricity! I thought he was joking (I mean, it was a laptop, not a refrigerator), but he was serious. Figuring I had nothing to lose, I pulled out my Sharper Image business card, pointed to our store, and told him that it was HIS mall’s fault that our electricity hadn’t been installed yet, and that, when I complained to HIS mall management that I came all the way from the city (true) and now I was stuck in East Tumbleweed with no way to work (true), they gave me permission to sit on a bench and work on my laptop (untrue). He said ‘who gave you permission?’ Continuing with my bluff, I started rooting around in my backpack, and said ‘Oh, I think she gave me a card. You know her, medium-height, dark hair, glasses’. Immediately he rattled off some name to which I replied ‘Yeah, I think that’s her. You know, she’s not a very pleasant person.’ At that point, he agreed that, yeah, ‘she’ could be a pain to deal with, but if I had ‘permission from her’, he guessed it was okay with him if I stayed there and worked. I assured him, that as soon as we had electricity in our store I’d move inside, and he wandered off, no doubt eager to harass some blogger who was taking illegal photos of his mall.

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  5. OMG! This was the mall of my dreams! It really was! My family moved to Port Jefferson in 1970, and this is where we shopped, so I remember it well. In fact, you could say that this was the mall that started my love affair with malls!

    If I recall correctly, it was originally anchored on the west-end by Macys, on the east end by Abraham & Strauss, the north end by Sears and on the south end by a (single-screen?) movie theatre which always seemed to be playing “A Clockwork Orange”.

    I remember there being a long central ‘reflecting pool’ which seemed to run the length of the mall corridor between Macys and A&S, but was probably bisected by the center court and what I now think was a Calder sculpture. There were pedestrian bridges to cross from one side to the other, and little landscaped ‘islands’ where the various sculptures were displayed.

    The mall corridor running from Sears to the center court contained huge bird cages with various exotic species and raised gardens with “tropical’ plantings. And I seem to recall a large neon art installation outside the movie theatre with astronauts, etc. (In retrospect, II believe it may have been by Peter Max, but I was just a kid in kindergarten, so who knows?

    The mall court outside Macy’s used to have a large fountain, and I’m fairly certain the mall court outside of Abraham & Strauss had one of those large “oil fountains” – where little drops of oil would dribble down what looked like fishing line. (This being Long Island, you’d imagine they’ve have placed a replica of the Venus de Milo inside of it, but I’m certain they wanted to raise the tine of the place a bit!

    It’s a shame to see what they did to it. It is so bland now – and a far cry from what I remember in my mind’s eye. C’est la vie……….

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  6. I love the retro light fixtures throughout the mall! Based on when the mall was built, I’m guessing they’re original??

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  7. If I recall correctly the theatre was a triplex at one point & was a Cineplex Odeon. It closed a few years ago & was replaced with the current Loews 17-plexjust east of the mall.

    Strange how the restaurant choices outside of Cheesecake Factory, CPK & TGI Fridays are somewhat lacking considering the malls size.

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  8. From the mall’s directory map, the JCPenney store looks unusually small, and I mean it’s very small, like a little bigger than what an Old Navy store would be, but still, that’s small for a JCPenney.

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  9. Looks like a mysterious lower level near JCP. And only 10 days from Labelscar turning three!

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  10. Ah! The good ol’ Smith Haven Mall. When my brother went to Stony Brook Univ around the turn of the century (dying to say that lately), when visiting, we would often frequent this mall being around the corner. I remember it just after 2000s, this mall was still entrenched in an 80’s look in-and-out and the formerly years-vacant Stern’s seemed stuck in the 60s. Since I’ve seen it turn around a lot since the major remodel.

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  11. Smith Haven has a really good roster of merchants, and I wish my city’s vaunted lifestyle center had anything approaching this collection of retailers! The lifestyle wing of Smith Haven is a better execution than I’ve seen at some other regional centers.

    Based on the site plan I saw on the Simon’s site, and using some loose estimates, I think that undersized JCPenney store is a bit larger than 60K square feet.

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  12. I love how the rounded brick corners and the brown corrugated part on the exterior of the Macy’s are carried over to the interior entrance as well. Kind of the opposite of that Sears, where the exterior is the complete opposite of its mall entrance.

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  13. I never been to this mall but yea the A&S there was a stern’s after they bit the dust :( I miss ol A&S it was terrific damn Macy’s ruined everything those bastards

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  14. Sears tends to have pretty generic storefronts for the mall interior. I wonder if there’s a Sears storefront in a mall with a different design.

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  15. Almost 15 years later, the closing of A&S is still very sad. It was a great store and as I remember, had an awesome men’s department. While had never been to the Smith Haven Mall location, the NJ locations made their respective malls very unique and also destinations, as there were only 4 of them in NJ. Also, the late 80s/early 90s remodels in A&S gave them a really upscale look….some have been further enhanced as Macys (eg Short Hills and Paramus Park) or Bloomingdales (eg Roosevelt Field)

    At least the Smith Haven Mall’s A&S (or at least its footprint) found a nice life as a lifestyle center…can’t say the same for the old Monmouth Mall A&S.

    It’s great the Smith Haven Mall has enhanced their store lineup…saves the trip to Roosevelt Field in many cases, and this upgrade may stave off the future competition that the Mall at Oyster Bay may provide.

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    SEAN Reply:

    @mallguy, What Mall at Oyster Bay LOL. Isn’t Taubman still in court over the malls construction?

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    mallguy Reply:

    @SEAN,

    according to the Mall at Oyster Bay website the courts ruled in their favor last year, so I assume construction has started…I never get out to LI, so I don’t know if that’s the case.

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    SEAN Reply:

    @mallguy,
    As far as I know construction has NOT started yet. However with credit markets in such bad shape right now , do you think Taubman will get this project off the ground anytime soon?

    As a foot note Nordstrom & Neiman Marcus are going to anchor the mall, & even that could be questionable with Neiman’s poor sales & finantial condition at this point.

    Origionally Lord & Taylor & Neiman’s signed on, but we all know what happened to NRDC afterwards. Now Neiman Marcus is heading down that same road & things aren’t looking pritty.

    A few years ago WLNY-TV ran an ad reguarding the Mall at Oyster Bay’s construction. You saw the site where it will be located but itwas an abandoned industrial park at the time as the PSA explaned. The voiceover asks who is preventing the mall from being constructed, is it Roosevelt Field? As the RF sign pops up.

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  16. aving never been to this or heard of this mill, the first picture really threw me off, as I saw a old 50s style sign, and a haphazardly attached Simon Malls sign, and expecting a dying or dead mall. Much to my surprise, this seems to be doing fairly well, and I think the Lifestyle portion is really unique with the Wooden Arbors.

    As a sidenote, is it just me, or does every lifestyle center or addittion required to have either a Chico’s, Coldwater Creek, J. Jill, Ann Taylor Loft or White House | Black Market included in its tenants?

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  17. I’ve lived near this mall since I was a young child. There were concrete “bridges” down the aisles that were not raised. On either side there was water. There may have been some small fountains in that water. There was a large oil fountain in front of A&S. There was also a restaurant on the second floor of A&S that overlooked that fountain. The modernist pillars in front of A&S were great, and there were circular, domed skylights in the overhang supported by the pillars. I took photos of it years ago, but they were only on my hard drive, which crashed and so they are lost.

    There was a large circular water “pond” in the middle. I don’t remember if there was a fountain in there. On the end without any major store (now the food court), there was a second floor that had stores or offices. I think that is now off-limits to the public. The large Calder sculpture was relegated to the parking lot for a while, then moved into the food court when it opened, which was then called the Calder Court. I guess they figured it was worth more to sell it, which they did (I think at auction), and then they changed the decorations. I don’t think it’s called Calder Court any more (don’t go there that often). I don’t remember the paintings by Rivers, and the others.

    Overall, the early mall was comfortable, yet it felt too large. The new mall (meaning in the last several years) feels much smaller, yet not really comfortable (even though the chairs in the aisles are quite comfortable, physically). I’d call the early mall a temple of consumerism. The new mall seems to be trying to hard to be hip. Of course, I’m not the same person I was in the late 70s or 80s.

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    Sebastian Reply:

    @Baul Plart, The original entrance was really kind of grandiose. I thought I was the only one who recalled that second floor with the stores and offices. Also: For some reason, that corner of the Mall was always really dim populated with weird stores like a tuxedo or fancy dress shop and the dingy cinema. You really felt like you were entering an alt-universe. Retail as Theater!

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  18. The original anchors were Abraham & Straus and Macys when the mall opened in 1969, soon followed by Sears, Martins (a local upscale department store) and McCrorys. The Martins is now JCPenney at about 90,000 sq. ft.

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  19. There was a store near the middle that I can’t remember the name of. It was like a “food of all nations” type of place, and it was quite small. It was there in the mid to late 70s and possibly a bit later. Anyone remember the name of this store?

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    Galleria Mall Rat Reply:

    @Baul Plart,

    I think the store was simply called “Food of All Nations” – I remember my father (having emigrated to the U.S. from Hungary) LOVED that store and would buy all sorts of odd food there…..

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  20. It was “Foods Of All Nations” in the south wing across from the Movie theater and next to one of the original “Sbarro” locations which I remember being more like an Italian Deli with cheeses and salamis hanging from the ceiling.

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  21. the Macy*s is original, and the original anchors were Stern’s, Sears, and Macy*s

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  22. The third floor of macy’s was added in the 80’s. Notice the different black exterior walls and the brick line where the stairwell towers were extended.

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  23. Ah, Smith Haven mall. My mother worked in Sear’s in the early 1980’s and nearly 20 years later I would spend four very long years working in Express and then The Bombay Store.

    I remember Friendly’s being in the mall, right outside of Sears if I recall correctly. This would be in perhaps 1985.

    There was a carrousel in the middle of the mall which was a sunken circle with two rings of steps/ seating (don’t remember if this was permanent but it was there in the early 1980’s. Later there was again another carrousel after Stern’s closed.

    The Calder sculpture was meant to eventually have a mobile like piece hanging from the top but it was never completely assembled.

    The food court during the 1980’s and 1990’s was like something out of the Simpson’s. There was a spud hut at one point (French fries, stuffed potatoes and such) the place next to the spud hut that sold strangely shaped chicken nuggets and I think grilled chicken sandwiches and such.

    There was a yogurt and things at the far left of the food court strip. Above the food court, outlets, on the wall, were pop art style paintings of hotdogs, tacos (which pissed me off because for years there were no tacos in any of the food court shops) and other fast food items.

    There was a Red Robin’s, one of the only that I can personally remember on long island. Today that Red Robin’s is now TGI Friday’s.

    At the mouth of the food court was Sssassy. If you were a girl, loved neon electric purple, Hello Kitty and Unicorns then Sssassy probably still holds a special place in your heart.

    I remember when Hot Topic opened in the food court and people were so scandalized by the Goth culture having a place to shop in the mall.

    Next door to Hot topic was a comic book store (not sure if its still there).

    I could go on some more, but I want to check and see if I still have my old Santa photos from Smith Haven. They used to list all the mall stores on the back.

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  24. Does anyone remember the weird sculpture that was hanging on the wall on the wing with the movie theater / sparros? It had a lady’s leg, movie reel tape and some other stuff? It was very late 1960’s – early 1970’s looking. This was up in the 70s.

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  25. been going there since i was about 3or 4?1970?and yes i do remember the fountains,orange julius i grew up there with my teen friends at time out(game room)i alsosam goody?
    so remember a pizza place where you could get a beer!and who can forget diffrent strokes?the best selection of rock shirts ever!i loved the old style,the now just doesnt compare!!

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