Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Southcenter Mall


Tukwila, Washington - circa 1960s

Here's an old Southcenter Mall interior image dating to the '60s (not the best quality but you get the idea). The store on the left is called Bernie's (which appears to be a men's clothing store), and you can also just barely make out the mall's JCPenney anchor way down at the far end (see the beginning of the Penneys sign?). Speaking of which, here's the caption off another Southcenter postcard:
"The distinctive architecture of Southcenter is highlighted by the beautiful J.C. Penney store, largest in the Penney chain. Penneys is one of the four major department stores in Southcenter which along with 110 other stores makes it the largest shopping center in the Northwest and one of the largest in the world.

The main building covers 30 acres of the total 116 acre site. The center is 8 minutes south of Seattle at Tukwila and the Junction of Interstates 5 and 405."
Mall history: 1968 - present
Current website: here
Current aerial view
Previous entries: 1, 2, 3, 4

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9 Comments:

Blogger BIGMallrat said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Tue Aug 28, 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger BIGMallrat said...

What I'd do for the clocks hanging from the ceiling!
The architecture of this place is still one of the best of all time. The incoming natural light sets it apart from many other malls of the era.
Scott

Tue Aug 28, 11:57:00 AM  
Blogger Didi said...

I would die for those clocks. I would also kill for those high ceilings.

Tue Aug 28, 07:43:00 PM  
Anonymous tkaye said...

This is actually a photo from the Tacoma Mall. Here's another shot from basically the same vantage point: http://search.tacomapubliclibrary.org/buildings/bldgdetails.asp?id=BU-13470&vhash=T&i=4

You ran a picture of the nearly identical center court at Southcenter last year. Comparing that photo with this one, you'll see that the Bernie's signage is slightly different. If you look at the Penney's at the end of the concourse in this photo, you'll see a huge grate just to the left of the Penney's sign. That grate is still there today and is probably the best positive ID that this is from Tacoma.

I've puzzled a lot over these three photos to try and figure this out... it feels like one of those puzzles in the newspaper where there are two cartoon drawings and you have to find the tiny details that are different!

Wed Aug 29, 12:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Jonas Clark-Elliott said...

Definately Tacoma mall. Southcenter had a large chandelier with lots of flashy spangles hanging around it, up in that atrium. I only found Tacoma Mall in the 90s, and nothing was in their atrium, but Southcenter had these same clocks mounted in a few places on walls. They have a hexagonal face, the same matte "champagne" color of many 60s ladies' watch faces, with narrow "wings" filled with clear low-voltage lights to either side of the face. I wish I had one. So many things both had that are gone: the sculptural fountains, the clocks and light fixtures, the planters. I do love the 70s look of, say, Taubman malls, but to me Southcenter and Tacoma will always be the perfect malls. Clean, bright 60s architecture, the likttle "secret" dark brick corners and wall sections in odd spots, the gothic-arch ceilings, the plants, the quiet hushing sound of distant fountains. Just magical.

Wed Aug 29, 07:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Vexorg said...

There is virtually no difference between this and the Southcenter mall. In fact, other than the stores, this picture looks like it could have been taken yesterday... Southcenter is currently undergoing a major expansion, but this part of the mall should be pretty much untouched.

Sun Sep 02, 08:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Jonas Clark-Elliott said...

Almost... The planters are gone. See that circular section? Now there's a kiosk selling blinky doodads for moble phones right there. The hallway straight ahead looks different at Southcenter, too - Southcenter's layout was slightly different than Tacoma, in minor ways. Both had these planters though and, as noted, both had the funky clocks, though displayed differently.

Sat Oct 06, 04:56:00 AM  
Anonymous tkaye said...

Hey, Jonas--

In the past month or so, they've actually moved that kiosk and set up a "living room" of chairs and small sofas and tables arranged in the big circle.

As part of the ongoing "renovation," the skylights seen in this postcard photo have been covered over and a much larger skylight has been installed in the center of the ceiling itself. (In other words, the area where the clock used to hang from has been cut out and replaced with glass.)

Along the main concourse, large panels of skylights have been cut into one half of the ceiling, spanning the width between two of the old skylights and then skipping a section. It has a very incongruous look and when the sun is directly overhead, the concourses can get unpleasantly bright.

They've really been in high swing with the construction lately... take a last glimpse of what's left of the old look while you can.

Sat Oct 06, 04:08:00 PM  
Blogger Patriotic American said...

Yet another great Blog Site of yours, thank you! I worked at the JC Penneys on Fort St. in Lincoln Park, 1 year later moved back out west, ended up in Seattle in '73 where my daughters were raised. I ended up working at the JC Penneys at Southcenter, when they opened the first ever catalog dept. on the west coast. I was the only outside hire because of my work experience in Lincol Park. Too cool! Anyways, you have some great photos of the mall, thanks for posting them.

Sun Nov 04, 01:01:00 AM  

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