Downtown Salt Lake City used to have two enclosed malls located just blocks apart–the ZCMI Center and the Crossroads Center. Both were torn down a couple years ago to make room for more new downtown development, and another (outdoor) downtown mall, The Gateway, has mostly taken their place.
The ZCMI Center opened in 1975, and at the time claimed to be the largest downtown shopping mall in the United States. ZCMI Center was unique compared to most malls because it wasn’t exactly secular; the mall’s name stood for Zion’s Co-Operative Mercantile Institution, which was a department store chain owned by the Church of Latter Day Saints before being sold to the May Corporation. Popularly known as “America’s First Department Store,” ZCMI had an interesting genesis:
Under (Brigham) Young’s direct leadership, ZCMI was organized by local Mormon community and business leaders, for the purpose of selling goods as inexpensively as possible, with intent to distribute profits among the people; early on, its employees were even paid with store credit. Aptly dubbed “The People’s Store”, ZCMI was founded in 1868, and offered such items as as clothing, textiles, farming and household goods. It has been called “America’s First Department Store.”
It was announced in the fall of 2006 that ZCMI Center would be closing for redevelopment, and demolition began in the summer of 2007. The plan is to replace the mall with a new mixed-use development called City Creek Center.
Crossroads Plaza was the other mall, located near ZCMI Center. Crossroads Plaza was a major mall and office complex anchored by Nordstrom and Mervyn’s, and opened in 1980.
More information on downtown Salt Lake City retail here.Thanks to Jay for sending us a great set of old photos and advertisements (mostly from 1997) that we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to get our hands on.