Pics of malls across America, from the 80s

10 posts


I haven't been that depressed since I walked the halls of my old high school about 5 months ago and looked at the line of graduating class photos by year.
I was alive when these photos were taken, but it looks like another era. The old people featured are dead, the young people are old, the little kids are well into adulthood... often with kids of their own. Moments just keep passing, months add up, and in no time I'm going to be an old anonymous bastard in a photo of the 2060's for some folks in 2085 to look at casually and crack dumb jokes. Everything and everyone that was so important to me, will ever be important to me, my love, it will be as though we were never even here. It's 2012 already, it's going by too fast, way too fast.


That's why I post here -- to achieve immortality.

Niccolo and Donkey
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The mall of the 1980s held an incredibly vital role in the shaping of North American suburbia. It allowed for residents of the outskirts to completely avoid the downtown core and its filth and dangers by creating a one-stop shop for all necessities in a fully-enclosed air condition environment, hermetically sealed.

My memories of malls in the early 1980s are quite vivid. On Saturdays after cartoons, my mother, father and I (and for about a year or so after he was born, my brother) would go to Centre Mall. There was a massive outdoor farmer's market. My mother would take care of any shopping needs outside of groceries while my father would join his friends in the food court at Tim Horton's. My start would be a hamburger and fries with a coke at A&W. I'd wander around the mall and maybe meet up with the son or daughter of a friend of my parents or maybe a cousin of mine. We'd go to the music store, either Sam the Record Man or some other (this was pre-HMV) and then hit a toy/electronics store to see what video games and systems were available. I'd take off for a bit and go to the bookstore while my friends would go to the arcade. The arcade was interesting because you'd have these surly looking teens with feathered hair, earrings and rock concert t-shirts, usually Def Leppard or Motley Crue, and they'd always be smoking. Being Centre Mall, this area was heavily Anglo-Scottish and it was noticeable as European kids wouldn't dress like that in the main. Here's an example of how the female variant looked like:


Centre Mall was becoming run down by the mid-80s as more and more families moved further out to the suburbs and all that remained were the poors. By the early 90's and the rise of wiggerism, Centre Mall earned its unique nickname "Teen Pregnancy Mall" as female wiggers would stroll around with their mulatto kids.

Typical Skid seen at Centre Mall


My family and I never went there by that time as larger and nicer malls arose further out like Limeridge Mall or Mapleview Mall, two story behemoths.

"Fast Times at Ridgemont High" best summed up malls of the early 1980s. Suburbia was thoroughly cut off from any cultural centres and there were no organic meeting points, so the mall simply took that role. Teens would congregrate, go to the movies, work there, find a boyfriend/girlfriend, etc.

Centre Mall was torn down recently and replaced with something...not sure what.

Addendum - notice the lack of fat people in these pictures. Someone should compare and contrast the photos in this album with what would be seen in the typical mall today.
Mike Reno's Celebrity Fit Club

Yes Nic , Centre mall was torn down . It is now a strip mall, funny how things go backwards.
But being too young to actually really remember the late 80's the 90's were my years of exploration in that place.

A day would start as nic said, Father would join his friends in the tim hortons food court while they enjoyed coffee smokes and the occasional card game. Mother would go to the farmers market to get fresh produce and also do some shopping inside of the clothing stores.

Often i would be left to run with a fist full of quarters into the Arcade. Walking into a cloud of smoke with my virgin 7 year old lungs would get a first real taste of nicotine

Of course all the good machines were taken by burn out teenagers wearing metallica, megadeath (or some other popular band from that genre) with du maurier lights dangling from their mouths (popular cigarette at the time).

I was stuck playing classic games like arkanoid, pacman, space invaders and pinball machines.
I started to really enjoy them to the point of only needing a few quarters for a couple hours.

It boogles my mind how my parents would let me run off, knowing that there was a possibility of getting my quarters stolen by some guy looking for smoke money.

Other times when i would blow my quarters, i would go to the toy store and try to play with all of the newest ones out. Normally welcomed with a sorry you can't play with that by a surly worker.

Bookstore and electronic stores were also key. seeing all the newest electronics we look at today as a joke, and reading articles from magazines and books like its a public library.

As nic brought up the nice family centre mall turned into wigger mall. With fights occuring on a weekly basis, kids selling drugs inside the malls and their baby mama's following them with their strollers.

Its sad thing when your childhood turns to shit like that , but thats how it is.

I will always remember centre mall as a place where the family would actually gather every week, and spend time even for only a hour or two.

Here are some pictures so you get to see what it looks like







Malls are strange - they're like airport waiting lounges in that they seem to be unmoored from time and place. Many years ago I used to work in the Biggest Mall in the World, which I've been told is now The Second Biggest Mall in the World, though I haven't checked into it. At night some of us would occasionally sneak into the services tunnels underneath - a massive, endless maze where, according to urban legend, runaways now hid and formed a loose community.

Right outside the store where I did Christmas help in the late '90s (my girlfriend of the time was a manager) was a glass enclosure with large birds turned extremely neurotic by the constant noise and masses of people tapping on the glass. One of them would somehow escape on a regular basis and walk herky-jerky, freaked out among patrons until security would rescue it and put it back in.

My favorite mall is in East Kilbride, just outside of Glasgow - it's huge, rambling (almost as though two separate malls had been joined together), and except for the accents you could be anywhere in North America, especially since they plopped an indoor skating rink in the middle of it. I think I like it because it makes no sense to me.


The Mall had such a reputation that someone even made an incredibly awful film with C-list actors in it: YouTube:

I only found out about this in December - you can see at least two of the places I did part-time work in growing up.

niccolo and donkey

The first mall in my community was built in the late 70s and lasted about ten years before a newer mall was constructed on the other side of town (this new mall is now 3/4 empty).

My parents did not go to this mall (nor the newer mall), they went to the nicer mall in Oak Brook or into the city. I would ride my bicycle or skateboard to the mall after school to play video games like Strider or NARC at the arcade. There was a very small Radio Shack (my first exposure to Tandy and to really creepy salespeople - not sure how they would make a living on meek commissions selling second rate electronics), a movie theater that would later rent out space to a newly started church - that would later build a giant church in the area that looks exactly like a mall. I called it the church of the holy movie theater. There was also a popcorn shop and a K-Mart, but you didn't want to get caught dead shopping in the K-Mart, unless you wanted to endure serious ridicule from your peers. My friend would go in there and shoplift cigars and chewing tobacco.

This mall had a serious population of "mall rats", teenagers that would get stoned and sit around at the mall. I didn't smoke weed at the time, so I couldn't be classified as one of these mall rats. When I started to drive, my friends and myself installed CB radios in our cars, we would fuck with the burnouts that hung out in the mall parking lot. This was done by taunting them on the radio for several hours, challenging them to fights, then we'd hide the antenna in the trunk and drive by, still fucking with them on the radio, they couldn't tell it was us because the absence of the antenna. Quality times. There is the old mall in all its glory. The newer mall opened in the early 90s but always had problems attracting decent retailers. Now the shift in the area is to very large strip malls with higher end shops. I have stopped going to these places except for last minute Christmas shopping, where I battle the crowds with alcohol and herbs. I have become the neo-mallrat burnout.
Team Zissou
You get used to it.
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