Monday, September 17, 2007

The Reincarnation Of A Shopping Center ~ The Mall At 163rd St.

By 1980 or there abouts the open air shopping centers from the 1950's were facing new competition from new enclosed malls with air conditioned promenades. One of the oldest shopping centers in South Florida, the 163rd Street Shopping Center, suddenly was competing for business with the nearby brand new fully enclosed Aventura Mall. Making things worse, some of the flagship department stores were moving into new and larger buildings at Aventura.

163rd St. got enclosed with a unique fabric roof and all the stores were refurbished. A new multi story arcade was built at the west end, housing a large food court and a lot of smaller shops. Multi level garages went up at both ends of the mall.

The advertizing and public relations firm representing the mall went on a binge of spending money trying to compete wth Aventura. Every month a sizeable brochure was mailed to residents in the area. A full page color cover and a few dozen shots, mostly black and white, for various featured stores and the mall itself needed to be shot. These ranged from product shots to store interiors, scenes in the food court, exterior shots, the whole spectrum.

I shot most all of it, especially the black and white, with my 35mm Leicas but the large color covers were shot on 120 Ektachrome with my Hasselblad and various Zeiss lenses from 50mm to 120mm. The printers preferred working with the larger transparencies. This was the era before Photoshop and scanners. You got the exposure right, no excuses, and used filters on the lens to get the color right too. There was no way to save a screw-up with "post processing".

I recently ran across a box full of covers and inside pages that I'd shot back then. I also did some photography for Dadeland Mall, Omni International Mall, and Kendall Town and Country. I'll be posting more mall photographs over the next few weeks.

A lot has changed in the past twenty-five years. Some malls have changed while others have ceased to exist altogether. There's an interesting website about malls that have changed or died. Here's their story about 163rd Street: and you can poke around the site and perhaps find one near you.

The covers were copied the "quick & dirty" way. I put the page down on the sidewalk in bright sunlight and shot down at them hand holding my Leica M2 camera with a 50mm f/2 Summicron lens on Kodak Gold 200 film developed and scanned at Walgreens. Todd Frederick worked his magic on the scans and posted them here. Thanks, Todd! Great job.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home