Matthew's Commentary

Posted September 12, 2010 (user submitted)

Hillside Shopping Center was originally an open mall. This city was selected to be the site of the first major large shopping mall in the suburban Chicago area.

It was opened in 1956 and originally had 67 stores including two anchors - which were Carson Pirie Scott and Goldblatt's.

The mall had received two major renovations as it was transformed into an enclosed mall in 1967 and given a face lift in 1976 to keep up with modern trends.

It had a linear shape with an anchor at each end, the food court as an outpocket in the middle, and several stores on the outside perimeter as well.

The mall had a few challenges to deal with which possibly led to its demise. First off, when the Eisenhower Expressway was put in, it bisected the mall's parking lot and thus reduced the amount of parking space. There were no immediate offramps either with people having to go two miles out of the way to reach the mall. The other problem could have been that larger malls such as Oakbrook Center in Oak Brook and Yorktown Shopping Center in Lombard built further down helped pull the customers away.

Fast forward to about 1996, I had to go to the DMV which was part of the mall, located in a few of the outer stores accessible from the outside at the time. I got to look around afterward.

The Carson Pirie Scott was still there, but the Goldblatt's had been replaced with a Menards. The DMV along with a Subway and a few other small stores on the outside appeared to be doing fine, but it was a whole different story once I got inside.

Inside on the Menards side, there were maybe only two small stores open. One being a newsstand which according to another source had been with the mall ever since its opening. The other store was an AT&T shop.

The mall was dead quiet, with faded banners hanging from the ceiling. Nearly every other store was gone with no evidence of what it was, though many labelscars were present as well. The only one I could recall was a store with the lettering left up called Rose, which I later found out by looking at the exterior of the mall that it was called Rose Records, because the lettering on the outside hadn't been removed either.

I went to the food court to find it dark and all kiosks completely shuttered, I couldn't make out what had been there when it was operational.

I also was unable to get to the Carson's from inside as the area between that store and the food court had been blocked off by wooden barriers.

The mall was closed shortly after and demolished partly in 1997. The Menards with the stores around it were spared and a CarMax now stands in the area of Carson Pirie Scott.

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