Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
I grew up in shopping malls.  It's not hard to do, not for people my age, not in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles.  My early memories of the mall were focused aroudn two things - the pizza joint in the food court, and the arcade.  That was back in the early 80's, before delivery pizza hit it big, and you still had lots and lots of little restaurants all over that specialized in pizza.  I think the pieces were square, and were served on paper plates on plastic trays.  The mall also had a McDonalds, but we didn't go there very much.  The pizza was better.

Ah, the arcade, one of my favorite places in my youth.  Every visit to the mall, it was always a question of, "Are we going to get pizza this time, and how many quarters can I get for the arcade?"   The actual shopping was awful.  As an ornrey little kid, I didn't much enjoy it at all, having to stand around and wait while my mom looked at stuff, or occasionally having to go try stuff on in the annoying little fitting rooms that never had any place to sit.

There was a toy store in the mall, of which I have fond memories.  We didn't buy stuff there that often, occasionally a model or a star wars figure, but I always enjoyed going in to look at stuff.  One year I entered a model painting contest with a model dinosaur, and managed to get an honorable mention.  That was my most prized tropy for many, many years.

One only entered the Sherman Oaks Galleria through the multi-level parking lot.  Each level had a different color.  Later, MUCH later, I learned that there was actually a way to enter the building from the street.  There was a quite nice walkway, flanked with some trees and whatnot, and an escalator that went down to the bus stop on the main street.  This was an older mall, and didn't have the acres of parking on ever side.

As I got older, the mall changed.  One year they remodeled the food court area, and it was never quite the same.  The pizza place dissapeared, but the arcade got bigger.  My mom took me to movies now and then, usually in the mornings on weekends, when it was cheaper.  During the early 90's there was a boom in collectible card games, and for a while the mall sported two stores that carried Magic : The Gathering.  I spent a fair deal of time looking at the expensive rare cards out on display, talking with the store clerks about cards, discussing strategies, etc.

But by this point, the mall was already in decline.  The consolidation in department store chains had resulted in the two main anchors for the mall being owned by the same company, Robinson's May, and it was simply not viable.  Perhaps because of its ill health, the department stores often had good clearance sales on pants and whatnot.  I went often enough that I knew the normal prices, and could tell when a sale was actually a sale, or just a gimmick.

In its waning days, the Galleria was a ghost town. Stores closed, and they were not replaced.   The food court was still there, remodeled once again, bright and airy under the glass atrium roof, and I remember going there to study every so often.  The movie theater remained to the end, but not much else did.  It was kind of sad and empty, but it always felt like home.  

Then came the inevitable.  The mall was closed.  It simply couldn't compete with larger, newer malls, and there was no way to expand it.  A new plan for the space was drawn up, where most of the space was remade into offices.  Some of it was allocated to a new mega theater, and some to a few new restaurants on the old walkway that was once the pedestrian entrance.  I went there once, and didn't stay very long.

by Zwackus on Sun Mar 25th, 2007 at 09:25:42 AM EST

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