Scenes From a 1990 Mall

Here’s something interesting: some 1990-vintage footage of Los Angeles malls sped up and set to music.

From Joel Fletcher.

34 Responses to “Scenes From a 1990 Mall”

  1. Neat! What mall is that? I love the very 80′s decor and clothing,I remember Morrow’s Nut Hut! The had Gap, Limited, Walden books, Sharper Image! How Retro! Very Cool!

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    Mr.D Reply:

    @Ed, my buddy thinks it is either “Glendale Galera” or”Eaglerock Mall”.
    (I’ll take his word because I don’t know squat about Cailf. =p)

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  2. No offense, but is this an attempt to post a new entry? Because it wasn’t worth the 4 minutes to watch, sure there were some good retro logos of Gap & Limited, but in my opinion the video was a bit annoying. I rather much see a new update….

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    manrod Reply:

    @Jeremy
    that is the most excitiing post that has ever been on labelscar (and i like labelscar a lot).
    4 minutes, 24 seconds, and 22 frames.
    24 frames per second, for a total of 6358 frames by my count. on 16mm film! and each frame is like a beautiful snapshot of history. a snapshot of people. not old empty malls where you try to imagine what might have been, but real people. people with bad clothes, and bad hair. but they were (are) alive. and interesting. and all body types. have you tried looking at the video frame-by-frame? you see two or three or ten frames of somebody and they are amazingly alive. i can tell you how to download it if you’d like. it’s f-ing beautiful. i’m almost crying when i look at all those people, because it’s so fascinating. in those 6358 frames there are a million stories, and a million dreams.
    what is annoying about that? what “new” update featuring some pictures of some empty burned-out mall is more worth your 4 minutes?
    sorry, i’ve had a bit to drink tonight.
    it’s a wonderful post. thank you labelscar, and especially, thank you joel fletcher.

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    Jeremy Reply:

    @manrod, updates via video are just not my thing, and yes I do realize your obsession with it, but I still don’t care for it.

    Labelscar doesn’t always post stories about dead malls, some are still alive.

    Videos are great, but as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

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    JT Reply:

    @Jeremy,

    I think you’re a bit hard on them for this…I thought it was interesting myself. The mall was actually dull looking, but I liked looking back in time at when I was 10 years old when I was a kid and malls were still fun. At that, there are quite a few malls I don’t like: especially the rarely built overblown ones built after 1995. It’s no wonder “lifestyle centers” are so popular considering the poor management of most malls these days.

    As to the dead malls: I am not a dead mall junkie when it comes to malls. If the economy doesn’t improve, a lot of the alive malls we cover won’t be here much longer and I quite frankly enjoy catching them still alive instead of dead and depressing. I’ve even begun posting redevelopment ideas on some of my own posts just to keep struggling malls from dying.

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    Jonah Norason (Pseudo3D) Reply:

    At least one of the malls here is still alive (Westside Pavilions) and at least one is dead (Sherman Oaks Galleria).

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  3. Haven’t seen a Swensen’s like that in quite some time! Apparently it’s still around, being extremely popular…in Singapore.

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  4. The video reminds me of another movie that I once saw called Koyaanisqatsi. It’d be interesting to see a video of the storefronts changing through time.

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  5. Aw come on. Everyone knows that Yakety Sax is the tune of choice for sped up footage.

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  6. Alright, I’ve come to my conclusion (please delete the previous two comments): the opening shots are of Westside Pavilions and another is Sherman Oaks Galleria.

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  7. New game, Count the crazy haircuts!

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  8. No arcades? screw that.

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  9. That was great, I also liked the Natural Wonders store, Lechter’s Housewares, the old Journey’s shoes, susie’s casuals, etc.
    I couldn’t tell, but it brings back the memory of when it was okay to smoke inside malls- I was a kid at the time, but its a weird thought now. I noticed the pet store put a no-smoking sign inside to remind people to not smoke when coming in from the common area of the mall.

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    BK31 Reply:

    @Kurt,
    At about 2:50 or so in if you watch the guy on the bench at the bottom of the screen it looks like he’s taking a bit of a smoke break.

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    BK31 Reply:

    @BK31,
    I should clarify, its the second guy sitting on the bench after the guy eating.

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  10. Favorite Post so far! Thanks for that great post..I agree it would have been neat to see the stores change through the years, or the mall itself! Thanks for posting that. I thought those people were smoking, I dont remember smoking in the malls, I can not even imagine that! (i’m 25)! Keep up the awesome site!

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  11. I remember some malls having smoking sections

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  12. People could smoke in Madison Square Mall here in Huntsville, AL until 1992 or so. It seems for a while, there was a designated smoking area near the escalators on the lower level on the Sears end around one of the mall’s fountains (removed in the 1994 renovation).

    Malls were thought of quite differently than they are now. Department stores were still strong and hadn’t started buying each other. Many inline stores in malls were ones that were only located in malls and not in strip malls.

    The mall was the focus rather than something that got lost in a sea of strip malls around it, pulling some of the energy away.

    Music stores were strong and CDs sold well. Computer CD ROM drives were not common yet in 1990 and hard drives could not hold nearly as much as a CD. Drives in the slightly over 100MB range were standard (one seventh the capacity of a CD). 2 to 4 MB RAM was common in higher-end machines. Windows 3.0 came out that year. The concept of copying music from a CD to store and play on a computer wasn’t there yet because the cost would be extremely high and many drives would be required.

    The preferred music distribution system was through selling CDs and music stores did a good business. Many large malls would have at least 2 stores selling music CDs. Video material was sold on VHS tapes and to a much lesser extent, LaserDiscs. DVD would come along 7 years later.

    There was much more regional variety in 1990 in malls. Each region had a different set of department stores. Traveling 100 or 200 miles to a different mall would expose you to a somewhat different set of stores. Everyone had Sears and JCPenney, but Atlanta had Macy’s and Rich’s and Birmingham had Pizitz and Parisian. Nashville had Castner-Knott and Cain Sloan. Montgomery had Gayfers. Chattanooga had Proffitt’s and Hess’s. I liked that. Now nearly every place has the same Dillards, Macy’s, Sears and JCPenney.

    I wish malls could go back to being more like they were in 1990. They did extremely well and were places to go for both young and old. Malls had good security and no “young people bans” necessary. Everyone got along and coexisted just fine.

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  13. That was awesome! Such a throw back to all the pastel shirts and big hair. It seems earlier than 1999.
    I only recognized the Sherman Oaks Galleria and what I think is the Galleria at South Bay in Redondo Beach.
    I was thinking the same as Gary about the movie koyaanisqatsi. Just needed a little Phillip Glass to add some drama.
    Thanks for posting!
    Scott

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    Jonah Norason (Pseudo3D) Reply:

    @BIGMallrat: Galleria at South Bay could’ve been one, but it wasn’t the first mall seen. It wasn’t 1999, as the Sherman Oaks Galleria was CLOSED by that time.

    I believe it said “1990″ as opposed to “1990s”

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  14. Chris pretty well put down the same thoughts I had after watching the video.

    To add to that, in my neck of the woods, Wisconsin had Gimbels, Boston Store and Prange’s, and if you went across the border to Illinois, the names were Carson Pirie Scott, Bergner’s and Marshall Field & Co.

    Malls of today are very different than they were just shy of 20 years ago. More chains, more variety, and they weren’t totally frowned upon by the general public…..yet. Complete specialty categories have been wiped out due to big boxes and the Internet. (pet stores, music / entertainment, arcades, among them), and smaller dept. store chains being eaten up by bigger ones didn’t help the enclosed mall’s cause either.

    Today’s ‘mall’ is essentially a big box strip for essential items, and online shopping for specialty items. It’s looking more and more like only the upscale or super-regional malls will be the survivors.

    I also remember when smoking was allowed in malls. That was all done in with here in WI by early 1994.

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  15. One of the things I haven’t seen in a while is a florist. My mall had a “Flowerama” in 1997 or 1998.

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    Allison Reply:

    @Jonah Norason (Pseudo3D),

    There’s a Raimondi’s Florist in Towson Town Center here in Baltimore. That’s the only mall florist I ever remember seeing, though.

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    Rich Reply:

    @Jonah Norason (Pseudo3D); Florists have always been rarities, although Euclid Square Mall had one among its original tenants, as did Beachwood Place (which doesn’t have one now). My guess is that they need cheaper space and easy access for making deliveries (as opposed to the way malls currently are laid out).

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  16. Wow, LOVED it! There is so much activity in each scene that repeated viewings are a must.

    However, I seem to have developed a suddenand intense desire to buy some acid-washed denim….

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  17. Thank you for this!

    People forget, but the 90′s were awesome!

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  18. I absolutely loved this. 1990 just doesn’t seem like it should have been that long ago! It perfectly captures the styles and culture of the late 80′s/early 90′s era, when the enclosed mall still had a bright future and very few would have envisioned that ever changing.

    What some of us wouldn’t give to see this same type of film clip from 1980 or 1970…or 1965…

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  19. I also thought I recognized the South Bay Galleria – the first one with the neon and exterior escalators and courtyard type thing. However I didn’t hang out at that mall as much as Del Amo and Old Towne so I am not 100% sure. I guess if they’d had the same developers they would have looked alike.

    Reminded me of the days when people seemed to have a lot more free time. It was like, “Hey I don’t have anything to do, let’s go to the mall.” I mean, I cannot IMAGINE anyone I know having enough free time to just go to the mall and kill 4 hours for no reason.

    That Gap store sure looked lackluster and boring, as was the logo. No wonder I never shopped at the Gap in those days. I guess if I had, I would have picked up some bitchin’ acid washed jeans! Well, all fashion was awful then.

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  20. I was thinking the South Bay Galleria too. But then, malls back then were so generic, I was thinking it could have been in Florida for all I knew.

    @Laura Old Town! I loved that mall. I moved to the South Bay when I was about 15 (it was about ’73). God that place was fun! I worked at the Music Barn…I don’t know if it was there when you went there. Taco Del Amo had the best bean and cheese burritos!

    Ross

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  21. Wow, excellent footage I remember that decade well, it looks so primitive compared to today.

    Nice little snapshot of history, I remember the bad hair and the now looking back bad clothes as well LOL but one heck of a decade it was.

    I bet at least half of those malls shown are either gone or highly renovated.

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  22. Oh and if I’m nor mistaken one on the parts of the footage shows someone SMOKING, wow this is way before they banned smoking from indoors back when they has smoking and non smoking sections in restaurants. Today, I highly doubt that would be tolerated in a mall.

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  23. I remember smoking being allowed in tiny St. Charles Mall, until sometime in the early 90′s, but it was only allowed in the smoking sections, which were by the entrances. By the time I started working at Charlestowne in ’95 it was banned, although you’d still occasionally see some guy (it was always a guy, usually in his 40′s) smoking as he wandered the mall, getting kicked out of each store and wondering where the hell the ashtrays were. I and most of my coworkers smoked at the time, so we’d just go hide in the back room to do it, and sometimes openly before or after close.

    You can tell if a mall hasn’t had a remodel since the early 90′s if the garbage cans have two openings in the top, one of which is narrower than the other. The narrow one was where the ashtray was.

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  24. i loved seeing the old South Bay Galleria fountain!

    I was so mesmerized by that as a kid, and was crushed when they renovated the Galleria and took out the fountain

    Great Video :)
    Thanks!

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