Sunday, August 24, 2008

Dead Mall Walking

This Saturday, economy be damned, throngs of shoppers still surged like a teeming river along the sidewalks of North Michigan Avenue, Chicago's premiere shopping boulevard. Flowing past Chicago Place, the vertical mall at 700 North, it's unlikely they could imagine the strange world that awaits them on the other side of the large, self-powered revolving door that now churns impotently, stripped of its power to suck in passers-by. Read all about it - and see the pictures - here.


Anonymous said...

Your article (the one in the link) is terrific. You captured the spirit--or dispirit--of the place perfectly.

I have fond memories of the food court at Chicago Place. From 1992 to 1995, I was a single, nerdy loner who sat with my laptop and did work stuff in that food court. I liked the huge open space.

I always like the mall, also, for riding up the escalators. However, come to think of it, I never bought anything there.

Heck, if they attracted people like me to that place, there is no way they were going to make any money!

Anonymous said...

Architectural detail aside ( i know iknow) its actualy a decent layout for a mall. I live nearby and went there often. The reason most people I know stopped going was the stores just werent the places I needed to go. Its the management, mix of stores thats the issue - not the location or architecture of it.

Anonymous said...

The floorplates are just to small and the escalators were a bit akward. I am so ready for the downtown Target...and since Carson's building seems to no longer be available why not here and now.

Anonymous said...

I am slowly coming to the conclusion that off-street retail doesn't work--anywhere in the world. The few exceptions, like Milan's Galleria, are heavily trafficked pedestrian streets that just happen to be roofed. Even the arcades off the Champs Elysée are where you find hair salons and watch repair shops, not the actual stores with the goods. North Bridge and 900 seem to still do OK, but not gangbusters. A lot of 900 is restaurants now, I notice.

So how do I account for 30 years of success at Water Tower Place? I can only compare it to the tall shops buildings that once lined State Street: the Stevens Building, the North American, the Consumers Building, the Majestic Building. There was just so much pent-up retail demand in the district that enough people would come in off the street. But that era seems to have waned in recent years on the Mag Mile, with retailers paying a premium to leave WTP for real sidewalk frontage.

Anonymous said...

I will remember this place for having the slowest elevators in Chicago, especially the two "express" elevators near Rush Street that ran between the first and food court floors. Why it took either of those two elevators almost a minute to travel just 8 floors always gave me a chuckle.

1. The Greek-looking lady who ran the Pita Express wearing the funky eyewear.
2. Having a near foodfight with an ex.
3. The ONLY Taco Bell in downtown Chicago worth going to.
4. The second floor of the Wendy's (became McDonald's) that used to allow open smoking back in the early through mid 90s.
5. The creepy guy with the mustache who was always there with some kind of briefcase, reading newspapers in the food court whenever I was there.
6. Buying a sweater from the "Italian" shirt shop that later became some sort of Irish shop.
7. Buying Thanksgiving goodies from Bockwinkles back in the late 90s. If they opened that store again, I would remember every aisle EXACTLY as they were from 10 years ago.
8. Remembering the Sundays spent with my best friend at the food court. Dozens of Sundays filled with laughs, sad news, and fast food.
9. The well dressed, older gentleman who would show up Sundays and eat the same bad fast food I ate. He was always coiffed and often wore a fur jacket or coat. I often wondered who he was.
10. Buying my first and only sofa from Room and Board.

Scott said...

The Taco Bell is still worth going to, via the slow express lifts. :) Nice place to get a late start on a Saturday.