Where: Columbus, OH
Status: Gone. New Buildings on Site.
Built in 1964, Northland mall was once one of Columbus' series of directionally named malls. Eastland, Westland, Southland mall are currently still operating. Northland closed due to lack of attendance in 2003, likely due to the opening of Polaris fashion place on Polaris road, and Easton Town Center just off of Morse road (about 5 min from Northalnd). I had been planning to try to get a peek inside the mall before it was demolished, but I never imagined I would have a chance to legally and freely stroll through the closed mall.
I was driving by the mall and noticed a large Liquidation Sale sign with several cars in the parking lot. I stopped by assuming I'd get a quick peek at something minor if I walked it. As it ended up, The entire mall, with the exception of Sears and Lazurus, was opened. I didn't find a single area I couldn't get in to if I so chose. Light was limited, and I didn't want to make it obvious that I was there to snoop and not shop for old mall furniture, so some of my pictures suffered for the cause.
Inside the doors of the Limited Stores.
By the time it was all said and done, I ended up going in to the mall two additional times. Once to grab more pictures while it was still 'open' for liquidation, and one other time as it was being destroyed. That final trip was actually only in to the sears store as everything else was already gone.
Escalator in the Sears store.
It was a real bummer to see the mall go. I'd shopped in the sears store many times and still to this day use tools that I purchased there. Even at the time I was shopping at the store there were signs that the mall had lost its luster. Many of the name brand stores had been replaced with air-brushing business or no-name retailers that seemed to come and go weekly. The mall concourse would be virtually empty during the week and populated mostly with teens on the weekends.
There were some very interesting things to see in the mall during those final days. One of the more interesting was the security setup in JC Penny. There were a series of 2 way mirrors around the top of the store that could be accessed from the storage area that surrounded the store. One the inside there were small booths set up where security could sit and watch shoppers without the shoppers knowing.
Another unusual area of the mall was a room, behind the recently updated food court, that had gravel floors. It was basiaclly like a section of unused mall that they decided to put a roof over I guess. Maybe this isn't as unusual as I think, but basically you opened a door and you were in a cement room with a gravel floor and nothing else. Maybe it was used for something, but it didn't appear to be from what I could see.
From the offices of the Sears store looking toward JC Penny in the back side of the building.
By the time the mall was torn down I had managed to get in to all of the areas I wanted to see.
Looking toward Lazarus from the Center.
Sales floor in JC Penny.
On my initial trip I was dissappointed by the inability to access Sears. I'd always wondered what this one section of windows and doors along the top of the rear of the store had been used for because you couldn't see them from inside the store. I was later able to access the sears store and found that they were offices and an employee lounge type of area. I still wonder if they were originally intended for something else... something open to the public perhaps.
One of the stores I had attended more regularly, although not by my own choice, was the Limited. Many times I had looked up at the system of decorative catwalks and thought about how one might get up there. That was one of the first places I headed to on my trip through the mall. Of course it was unlocked, and of course I walked across that catwalk. I had to walk through total darkness to find it, but it was worth it.
Overall this was a really cool thing to see and a really lucky catch for me since I just happened to be driving by on the day that they had signs out.
One final thing worth mentioning is the large picture to the right of this text. Its hard to see, but this was a picture that someone had hung up in the JC Penny's store. Its the mall around Christmas time I believe of the year it opened. As you can see, its completely packed with cars, much like nearby Polaris or Easton would be now. I guess what I'm saying is that I'm really looking forward to sneaking around Polaris one of these days.
A picture of Northland during its glory days. I believe the picture said it was taken in 1965.
The mall is now completely gone. The theater is in use by a stage show organization. The Lazarus building is in use as offices, JC Penny is empty and still standing as of this writing, and the rest is gone.
Escalator in JC Pennys Inside the limited was very cool. The power tools section at Sears (not really) I don't recall what store this was, but it was across from the limited stores.
The exterior of the Theater The screen has been removed. Exit doors were hidden behind the screen2
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