These 48 vintage indoor malls were so dazzling, you’ll want to hop in a time machine and shop ’til you drop

Vintage indoor malls - Old shopping centers

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“Hey, want to go to the mall?”

Remember those giant suburban indoor malls of the 60s, 70s & 80s?

We shopped (or we window shopped), teens hung out, ladies lunched, kids got their pictures taken on Santa’s lap, we tried to win cars and other prizes. Sometimes there was even live music (and, hey — remember Tiffany’s mall tour?)!

For decades, the mall was THE gathering place for millions of Americans.

It might seem like malls have been around since forever, but the first official indoor shopping mall didn’t exist until 1956.

Built on the outskirts of Minneapolis, Southdale Mall was the first climate-controlled, fully-enclosed mall in the US.

Not only was it a convenient and comfortable place to shop and gather — no matter what the weather! — it made good business sense, too.

Unlike the traditional downtown shopping scene, where every building had a different landlord, mall properties had centralized management, where leasing could be controlled to maximize sales for everyone. And, of course, parking was significantly less hassle at the mall than it was downtown.

Consequently, the mall concept exploded, and Southdale Mall became the template for suburban indoor malls as we knew them.

Wausau Center Mall, Wisconsin
Wausau Center Mall, Wisconsin

Back then, indoor malls were a convenient one-stop location for shopping, eating, recreation and socializing. Many of these sprawling malls had movie theaters — and some even had ice rinks and bowling alleys.

And, the mall looked, smelled, and sounded good, too! Malls were glittering and luxuriously appointed, designed to tempt you to indulgence at every turn. Just by taking a quick walk around the place, you could tell that they really know how to make customers feel like royalty.

Tysons Corner Center shopping mall, Virginia (1980)
Tysons Corner Center shopping mall, Virginia (late 1980s)

But none of that was enough for indoor malls to survive the age of the internet.

By the turn of the millennium, brick and mortar retailers — including so many of those located in shopping malls — struggled to compete with online marketplaces.

After all, shopping doesn’t get much more convenient than online! Especially when there are machine learning algorithms that not only help retailers better predict what customers need, but also efficiently connect customers with their products.

Since the ease of online shopping has lured most of us to its charms, indoor malls have started to die out. But what hasn’t faded is our fondness for this vintage relic.

Take a nostalgic trip back with us to some of the best indoor malls from the 60s, 70s and 80s.

And don’t miss part 2: 50 old mall stores you probably haven’t seen for years (at least not looking like this)

1960s: Vintage indoor malls in the early years

Multilevel mall featuring a palm garden courtyard

Stores you can see in this mall include Treasure Isle gifts & Jewelry, Hart Schaffner & Marx Clothes, a barber, and a medical clinic

Vintage indoor malls (c1960s)


Chris-Town Shopping Mall, Phoenix, Arizona (1962)

Chris-Town Shopping Mall, Phoenix, Arizona (1962)


Old Chris-Town indoor mall in Arizona (c. 1960s)

You can see the Korrick’s Department Store on the right

Old Chris-Town mall in Arizona (c1960s)


Hudson’s store at Oakland Mall – Troy, Michigan (1969)

Hudson's store at Oakland Mall - Troy, Michigan (1969)


1960s mall with a Florsheim Men’s Shoe Shop (1969)

MORE: Vintage shoe stores: What shoe shopping used to be like

Vintage sixties mall with a Florsheim Men's Shoe Shop (1969)


Scenes from the Old North Mall in York, Pennsylvania (1969)

Stores shown include The Fabric Tree, Hanover Shoes, Buxton’s, Parklane Hosiery and Kinney Shoes 

Old North Mall in York, Pennsylvania (1969)


Vintage Smith & Welton store at a shopping mall (1960s)

Vintage Smith and Welton store at a shopping mall (1960s)


Dayton’s department store at Brookdale Shopping Center, Minneapolis (1966)

Dayton's department store at Brookdale Shopping Center, Minneapolis MN (1966)


1970s: Vintage indoor malls with 70s style

Rich’s store at Cumberland Mall – Atlanta, Georgia (1973)

Cumberland Mall - Atlanta, Georgia (1973)


Dayton Hudson’s Woodland Hills Mall, Tulsa, Oklahoma (1976)

See Aberson’s Alley, Florsheim Shoes & Gray’s Jewelers

Dayton Hudson's Woodland Hills Mall, Tulsa, Oklahoma (1976)


Plymouth Meeting Mall, Pennsylvania (1960s-1970s)

Shops include a Fashion Bug and a jewlery store

Plymouth Meeting Mall, Pennsylvania (1960s-1970s)


Belden Village Mall – Canton, Ohio (1960s-1970s)

Belden Village Mall - Canton, Ohio (1960s-1970s)

ALSO SEE: Remember Hickory Farms? That’s how we fed our charcuterie obsession back in the day (1970s-90s)


Inside Belden Village Mall (1960s-1970s)

You can see a Thom McAn shoe store, Deuble’s Jewelers, and a Hallmark store

Inside Belden Village Mall - Canton, Ohio (1960s-1970s)


Colonial Park Plaza vintage shopping mall, Pennsylvania (1970)

Colonial Park Plaza vintage shopping mall, Pennsylvania (1970)


Town East Mall, near Dallas, Texas (1971)

Town East Mall, near Dallas, Texas (1971)


Rosedale Shopping Center – St Paul, Minnesota (1971)

Rosedale Shopping Center - St Paul, Minnesota (1971)


Midtown shopping mall, Rochester New York (1960s-1970s)

Midtown shopping mall, Rochester New York (1960s-1970s)


Strawbridge & Clothier grand court at mall in Pennsylvania (1972)

Strawbridge & Clothier grand court at mall in Pennsylvania (1972)


JC Penney at 3-level Southdale Shopping Center, Minnesota (1972)

JC Penney at Southdale Shopping Center, Minnesota (1972)


Old malls: Ridgedale Shopping Center, near Minneapolis, Minnesota (1973)

Stores include B Dalton Bookseller, Peck & Peck, and The Limited

Ridgedale Shopping Center, near Minneapolis, Minnesota (1973)


Strawbridge & Clothier – Neshaminy Mall in Bensalem, PA (1973)

Strawbridge & Clothier - Neshaminy Mall in Bensalem, PA (1973)


Mayfair Shopping Center – Old mall in Wisconsin (1973)

Beyond the creek and bridge is a large Marshall Field & Company store

Mayfair Shopping Center - Old mall in Wisconsin (1973)


Huge light fixture at Fox Valley Shopping Center in Illinois (1974)

Huge light fixture at Fox Valley Shopping Center in Illinois (1974)


Deptford Mall Shopping Center, New Jersey (1970s-1980s)

Florsheim Shoes, Flower World, Marqueland’s Candies

ALSO SEE: See vintage drugstores 100 years ago, selling lots of things you can’t (legally) buy anymore

Deptford Mall Shopping Center (New Jersey) 1970s-1980s


Retro shopping mall in Indiana

You can see Florsheim shoes, Kinney, Kay Jewelers

Retro shopping mall in Indiana


Vintage postcard of Briarwood Mall in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Stores seen include Naturalizer, Meyer Treasure Chest Stores, and Hanover Shoes

Vintage postcard of Briarwood Mall (Ann Arbor, Michigan)


Vintage mall – Woolworth’s store and fountains

Vintage mall - Woolworth's store


Twin City Mall – North Palm Beach, Florida (1971)

Shops seen include Morse and Upstage

Twin City Mall - North Palm Beach, Florida (1971)


Vintage postcard – Sunvalley Mall, Concord, California (c1970s)

Shops seen include Sandra Joy Casuals, Kushins, Penney’s

Vintage postcard - Sunvalley Mall, Concord, California (c1970s)


Vintage 1970s shopping mall

Stores seen include Kinney Shoes, Jack and Jill, and a Northwest Airlines kiosk

Vintage 1970s shopping mall - Kinney store


Vintage Woolworth’s store next to a fountain at a retro shopping mall (1976)

Vintage Woolworth's store next to a fountain at a retro shopping mall (1976)


Vintage 1970s shopping mall with two levels

Stores include Young World & Basket House 

Vintage 1970s shopping mall with two levels


Vintage shopping mall scene – 1970s or 1980s

Stores seen here Hardy Shoes, The Bombay Shop, Hot Sam and Sears

Vintage shopping mall scene - 1970s or 1980s


Fiesta Mall in Mesa, Arizona (1979)

Stores shown include Rings & Things, Musicland, Sears and a Hallmark store

Fiesta Mall in Mesa, Arizona (1979)


1980s: Retro 80s malls

A classic old-school eighties shopping mall

You can see a Flagg Bros, Thayer McNeil Shoes, and what looks like a Chick-Fil-A

Retro 1980s shopping mall


Eastland Mall ice skating rink – Charlotte, North Carolina (1970s-1980s)

Eastland Mall ice skating rink - Charlotte, North Carolina (1970s-1980s)


Skating rink inside Galleria Mall, Houston, Texas (1980)

Skating rink inside Galleria Mall, Houston, Texas (1980)


Shopping mall food court stands (1980)

There’s a Pretzel Fest and a popcorn place (Photo date based on photographer’s catalog record)

ALSO SEE: 12 abandoned malls & the history of their heartbreaking decline

Shopping mall food court stands (1980)


Shopping mall food court in northern Virginia (1980)

There’s a Pik-A-Pita and Frank & Stein restaurant (Photo date based on photographer’s catalog record)

Shopping mall food court in northern Virginia (1980)


Town Center mall – Cobb County, Georgia (1980s)

Town Center mall - Cobb County, Georgia (1980s)


The Shops at Georgetown Park mall at Christmas (1980)

MORE: The history of the iconic Sears ‘Wish Book’ Christmas catalog that made dreams come true

The Shops at Georgetown Park mall at Christmas (1980)


Montclair Plaza – Montclair, California (1986)

Montclair Plaza - Montclair, California (1986)


Hulen Mall – Fort Worth, Texas (1980s)

Stores here include The Cook’s Nook, The Limited, The Gap

Hulen Mall - Fort Worth, Texas (1980s)


Georgetown Park shopping mall (1980)

(Photo date based on photographer’s catalog record)

Georgetown Park shopping mall (1980)


1980s shopping mall with fountain and clock

1980s shopping mall with fountain and clock

DON’T MISS: See Cheryl Tiegs’ clothing collection & swimwear at Sears in the ’80s


Tysons Corner Center shopping mall, Tysons Corner, Virginia (late 1980s)

Tysons Corner Center shopping mall, Tysons Corner, Virginia (1980)


Vintage malls: Shopping mall and hotel lobby (1980)

Shopping mall and hotel lobby (1980)


Retro 80s shopping center information booth

Retro 80s shopping center information booth

NOW SEE THIS: 50 old mall stores you probably haven’t seen for years (at least not looking like this)

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Comments on this story

2 Responses

  1. As a person who grew up in the Minneapolis area and shopped at Southdale in the 80s and 90s – I loved seeing the video of its history. So fascinating! Interesting that through all the changes and decades, it’s still a very recognizable mall – not generic like the ones built later on. Thanks for posting this!

  2. The Tysons Corner Center shopping mall picture description is inaccurate. I worked there in 1986 and the mall was only one floor then. The anchor stores, such as Hecht’s, my employer, had a lower level that was part of a service area for the entire mall. That is where they got the space for expansion, the existing underground loading dock level was converted into another floor for the entire mall. Your photo is circa 1988, when that remodeling was complete. Tysons Corner Center has continually expanded upward and outward since.

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