Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Randall Park Mall

Benjamin bear looks for his girl Missy in Randall Park Mall.
"Cleveland Is A Warm, Fuzzy Place" (1977)
"There's going to be a transfer of power ... from the central city to the southeast part of Cleveland ... I believe that after today the forces that want to keep downtown Cleveland intact had better get on their horse and start riding real fast."
- Randall Park Mall Developer Ed DeBartolo, 1973
Two million square feet of shopping ecstasy, the Randall Park Mall opened to the public on August 11, 1976. At the time it was the largest indoor shopping mall in the world. The city of North Randall had a population of 1,500. Randall Mall Park employed 5,000.

Randall Park didn't have one, but FIVE department stores; Higbee's, The May Company, Sears, JC Penney, and the Joseph Horne Company. The place was so big, some stores had two locations, one on each floor! There were over 200 hundred stores in all. And it was stylish -- marble columns, real tile floors, beautiful ceilings and futuristic ramps and crossovers.

The joy was short-lived however. With two years, the Beachwood Mall opened, siphoning away well-heeled customers, and the place began losing any of its original luster before the end of the 1970s. The place was just so vast, and little thought had gone into long-term maintenance. Attending the movie theater (and using its bathrooms) required trips up and down many staircases, and the theater (and its bathrooms) were filthy and dysfunctional. By the mid-1980s the mall was considered downright dangerous, and suburban residents began to refer to it as Vandal Dark Mall ... "dark" because, you know, the lights were out in all the closed storefronts.

Randall Park Mall closed in 2009.

UPDATE: Found this PD op-ed piece celebrating the opening of Randall Park Mall from August 1976.

Outside Cleveland, Snapshots of Poverty’s Surge in the Suburbs New York Times, 10/25/2011
The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

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