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Jason Ilyes' Commentary

Posted November 20, 2006 (user submitted)

Northway Mall, in Ross Township, north of Pittsburgh, is today viewed as a rather insignificant mid-sized mall. This has however, not always been the case. When Northway Mall first opened its doors on August 1, 1962, it ushered in history as the first indoor mall in the state of Pennsylvania. The mall also housed two unique features when it opened, a large bird cage serving as a popular attraction, and a glass enclosed elevator. While glass elevators are very common in malls today, the one in Northway Mall was the third such elevator in the country. The birdcage was removed in 1994.

Northway began life as Northway Shopping Center, a strip mall built in 1953. The lower level is the original strip mall enclosed, with the remainder of the mall being later construction.

Original anchors included Horne's, Woolworth, G.C. Murphy, and A&P. A&P was replaced by Herman's in the 1980s. The mall thrived from 1962 to August 1986, when it was the only enclosed mall north of Pittsburgh. When Ross Park Mall opened, Northway began to lose appeal. Horne's and Murphy's left in 1988; the former had opened at Ross Park Mall in 1987 but had operated both stores for some time. The former Horne's was purchased by Dahlkemper's, which remained there until the chain's bankruptcy in 1993. Murphy's was filled with a discount movie theater, later purchased by National Amusements and converted to a new release cinema. Woolworth left in 1991 and the space sat vacant until 1996, when Marshall's moved in. Dick's Sporting Goods bought the old Dahlkemper's space and moved in around 1994. Herman's went out in 1992, and Borders expanded the location and opened in 1995.

A food court was added in 1990 and enjoyed little success, with Rax being the only national chain. Today it holds only two eaterys, locally-owned Mama Lucia Pizza and an African food stand.

The mall's exterior was heavily retooled in 1994, and the interior received some treatment as well.

After declining through the late 80's and early 90's, Northway Mall was renovated in the mid 90's. Today the mall is once again in decline, with many of its lots empty. The mall still retains all of its anchor locations however, and hosts such stores as Value City, Dick's Sporting Goods, Borders Books and Music, Old Navy and Marshall's.

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