Vintage Chicago Tribune: Malls!!!!!


It could have been the site of your first date, kiss, job, major purchase using allowance money, or where you saw that summer blockbuster movie.

Let’s review your favorite local mall, Chicago.

If your mom or a friend’s mom didn’t drop you off at the family commuter, station wagon or van, then maybe you took the bus instead. Maybe you went to the mall to get your ears pierced, spied on your secret crush who worked in the food court, or bought a Christmas present for your dad.

The mall was the hub of my pre-teen and teenage years.

My meeting place was Randhurst at Mount Prospect — the Chicago area’s first enclosed regional mall — which celebrates its 60th anniversary this month. I took dance lessons in his basement, picked up luggage from Carson Pirie Scott to take to college (which I still use), and worked in the CD department at Circuit City during school breaks. summer and winter in the 1990s (my main activity – telling shoppers “No, we don’t have a mall entrance to our store”). Speaking of the 90s, my grandmother Rumore worked at GNC in Randhurst as a nonagenarian. Although, really, she and I preferred to walk and shop in our mall at Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, which we frequently did together.

I don’t go to the mall anymore, thanks to the multitude of delivery and curbside pickup options available. Plus, who has time to wander around and shop aimlessly these days? Honestly, it’s an activity that I miss. But the photos that Tribune photo editors Marianne Mather and Andrew Johnston discovered in our archives take me back to those simpler times.

As Alexandra Lange, author of the recently published book “Meet Me by the Fountain: An Inside History of the Mall”, wrote in her introduction, the nostalgia is palpable: “When I say ‘mall’, you see a place in time, a shopping spree, an incredible afternoon. But even in my lifetime, the mall has changed and changed again. It is an architecture born to be malleable, and it is in this malleability that lies his future.

Just as I grew up so did Randhurst. It is now called Randhurst Village and has been reconfigured primarily as an outdoor shopping center over the past two decades. And while an ice cream shop in an outbuilding doesn’t have the same neon charm as The Picnic, it’s still a great place for my son and his grandmother Rumore – my mother – to make memories of their own.

Do you have fond memories of your participation in the Bud Billiken Parade? Please email them to us! We could include them in next week’s newsletter.

Please support our work and subscribe to the Tribune – it’s fair $12 for a 1-year digital subscription.

Thanks for reading. See you next week!

— Kori Rumore, Visual Journalist

Chicago History | @vintagetribune on Instagram | Quiz: Test your knowledge of Chicago | Last week’s edition of the Vintage Chicago Tribune newsletter

It billed itself as the largest mall in the world when it was built in 1962, but struggled to keep pace as more upscale malls opened nearby. It was relaunched as Randhurst Village in 2011, an outdoor mall with shops, restaurants, a cinema and a hotel. Read more.

Woodfield Mall opened in Schuamburg in 1971 – with celebrities such as actor Vincent Price on hand to cut a huge orange ribbon – and was crowned America’s largest mall at the time. See more pictures.

A fire started by an electric motor in a warehouse caused over $1 million in damage to Ford City Mall on April 2, 1968, but stores remained open. Read more.

Vintage Chicago Grandstand

Vintage Chicago Grandstand


The Vintage Tribune newsletter is a deep dive into the Chicago Tribune archives with photos and stories about the people, places and events that shape the city’s past, present and future.

The mall at 151st Street and the Dixie Highway became famous for its appearance in the 1980s film ‘The Blues Brothers,’ where John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd tore through its walls in the center’s iconic car chase scene commercial. It was demolished in 2012. Read more.

The Old Orchard Mall opened in October 1956 with Marshall Field & Co. and The Fair Department Store as flagship stores. It is an open-air mall. See more pictures.

Yorktown Center opened in 1968 as an indoor mall with four flagship department stores – Carson Pirie Scott, Montgomery Ward, Wieboldt’s and JCPenney. See more pictures.

The Oakbrook Mall opened in 1962 near the corner of Interstate 88 and Route 83 as an outdoor mall. See more pictures.

Harlem Irving Plaza opened in Norridge in 1956 with anchor stores Wieboldt’s, Walgreens, Woolworth and Kroger. See more pictures.

At Orland Square Mall in the southwest suburb of Orland Park, empty anchor stores provide an opportunity to diversify the mall’s retail and entertainment offerings. Read more.

Northbrook Court opened on Lake Cook Road in 1976 with Sears, Lord & Taylor and Neiman Marcus as its original anchor stores. Read more.


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