Vintage Business #2: Ye Olde English Mall

Anyone remember when almost every shopping mall resembled a medieval rec room? They were dark, had cobblestone floors, lots of dark wood, flickering lamps, even the Orange Julius had iron bars.

Author Pagan Kennedy breaks it down beautifully in her book Platforms.
By the early seventies malls were built on a grander scale... now they were upscale, modular, Brady-esque. I'm talking imitation gas lamps, I'm talking ferns. It was in this era that the mall became an enclosed ecosystem, layered with mezzanines...
By the 1980s, the economy was soaring and malls got bright, glossy and pompous. They resembled big habitrails with crystal walkways. Nowadays, I guess even these are fading away in favor of the strip mall: mega-stores like Best Buy flanked by their minions of smaller retailers.

(sigh) I miss the 1970's medieval rec room mall...


  1. Back in Toledo, we had two of those 1970s neo-medieval malls, Woodville and Southwyck. The latter is now closed and awaits demolition and Woodville is barely alive...but it did had an old-school Orange Julius!

  2. Perfect!

    I've actually been to your blog numerous times - a great chronicle of malls past.

  3. I loved those old malls. They seemed so warm and cozy.

  4. I agree. They were like the Brady house circa 1450 AD.

    Picture yourself by the fountain and ferns with an Orange Julius and a cigarette... ahhhhh

  5. The Orange Julius devil-kid always scared me as a kid. I can remember petting zoos in malls; I can remember fake plants and little footbridges over indoor streams; all the dark wood paneling, people smoking and leaving butts on the floor... and the zombies.

  6. The two malls in my home town always had elaborate fountains in the middle. I would beg my parents for a penny to toss in and make a wish. It was like a rule that there had to be a water feature!

  7. I can remember restaurants built in that theme when I was a kid. Our Big Boy looked like medieval dungeon on the inside.