23 September 2013

All Mallmanac - The Saint Louis Galleria, Richmond Heights, MO

Sorry that it's been a while between posts, but it's been quite an eventful few months more me. I moved from the northern suburbs of Seattle to the Capitol Hill neighborhood, there was movement within my job and, in the midst of it all, my appendix decided to burst. Fun time to for me. But now that autumn and its signature Northwestern rain have descended upon us, I should be able to find more time to commit to this blog. And thanks to everyone for your comments and helpful information over the last few months.

My first post back is for a mall which I've only patronized once among my many travels to Saint Louis, one of my favorite cities in the United States. When working for the airlines, I flew in quite often, but with the Saint Louis Galleria being more than a short distance from the city's light rail line, I only got to walk through its corridors on my initial trek to the Gateway City in 1996.

 
 
Saint Louis Galleria Mallmanac, ca. 1996. View the full PDF version here.

I was at work when I got the call late one Saturday evening. It was my best friend asking me for a favor. His girlfriend, who was going to Saint Louis University at the time, was having some sort of crisis and he had to fetch her right away. That night. And he wanted me to come along. I was 21 at the time and spontaneity was the order of the day; how could I refuse? In just a few hours, we were driving across the darkest stretch of interstate I've ever seen in rural Kentucky.

It was cold and rainy as we crossed the bridge from Illinois to Missouri. The top of the arch was obscured by a thin layer of stratus, but it was magnificent on first sight, nonetheless. It wasn't long before the two young lovers were in each others' much relieved arms. But what to do at that point? There was always the mall.

 
L- The Saint Louis Galleria in the mid 1990s. R- The facility's layout after the departure of Mark Shale and before some major changes.

The mall was quite a sight. It seemed to stretch forever down South Brentwood Boulevard, under the looming shadow of a modern 70's era suburban skyscraper located right across the thoroughfare. I can't recall the specific elements of the interior, just that it was very upscale. I loved the Mark Shale store, though with my being a poor college student at the time, I could hardly afford anything in there. We got a bite to eat, browsed the shops, then dragged our tired selves back to the car for a long drive back to Alabama.

 
L- The Saint Louis Galleria's layout in 2012. R- Overhead view of the Galleria. Notice how the old Lord and Taylor has been razed to accomodate the new Nordstrom. (Source)

The Saint Louis Galleria opened in 1984 on the grounds of the former Westroads shopping center. It debuted with Dillard's and Mark Shale as anchors. In subsequent years, Famous Barr and Lord and Taylor were added, and the Galleria had established itself as the upscale retail destination of Saint Louis. It was quite healthy and robust on my one and only visit, and it seems the almost two decades since then have only brought continuing prosperity to the center.

Saint Louis Galleria's official website

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