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My childhood hangout is officially gone, and I have the sadz

Like many of us growing up in the 80s and 90s, I spent a lot of my preteen and teen years in a mall. As St. Louis lagged behind the coasts a good 5-10 years fashion-wise then, much of the 90s looked like 80s reruns I would watch on tv.

Yesterday my mall, Crestwood Plaza, officially started its demolition. Check out the slideshow of creepy empty mall facilities prior to the demo.

http://www.bizjournals.com/stlouis/mornin…

This was the first mall in St. Louis. It opened in 1957, and it wasn’t covered - more of a strip-mall style - until the early 1980s when they tore down a Woolworths and converted it to a bunch of small stores, enclosed the structure, and added the food court (with the awesome arcade that had lazertag!).

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The mall started going under in the mid-2000s due to a combo of the city of Crestwood hiking sales taxes and a ton of the residents of Meacham Park (historically black neighborhood nearby) having their homes seized through imminent domain to create a ginormous shopping plaza which competed with the mall. They unsuccessfully tried to make it an arts/entertainment facility (galleries, dance studies, antique stores) for about 5 years. Now they are demolishing it to put in one of those snazzy retail/restaurant/lofts things.

I am disproportionately sad about this. Not the new construction - it’s desperately needed. But I spent so much time with family and friends at that mall, many of which have since died. It was like the place to hang out if you lived in South County and didn’t want to see the Jefferson County people (they went to South County Mall generally). It wasn’t uncommon to get dropped off there with friends and run into my cousins or other kids from school.

My great aunt took me to see every Disney movie that came out at their AMC theatre when I was little. My grandmother and other great aunt worked at Famous-Barr and Stix’s and would hang out on their breaks.

My uncle was a St. Louis Bread Company manager there when Ron Shaich bought BreadCo and rebranded them as Panera. I remember showing up and my uncle excitedly telling me about this new thing they offered - a hot sandwich called a pa-nee-nee.

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I remember it had a B Dalton AND a Waldenbooks (fancy!!). And a Dillards, Sears, Penneys, and a Famous-Barr. So. Many. Options! It had two of those sketch mall pet stores, but they closed before I was in high school. No one was upset about that.

On a completely practical note, this is the only mall around here that had lockers you could put a quarter in and then take the key. Super convenient during Christmas shopping because you could shove your coat and purchases in there and keep shopping!

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