Sunday, May 14, 2006

Demolition of River Roads Mall

The demolition of River Roads Mall has been in the planning stages for some time now. Nearby Northland Shopping Center met its fate last year, and everyone knew that it wouldn't be long until River Roads joined it. Like Northland, River Roads is that unfortunate age that is too young to qualify for historic tax credits, but too old for restoration to be feasible or worthwhile (especially considering the economy of the city of Jennings today). I had heard from someone who works for the company that now owns the property that it's time had come, so I made it a point to visit this location for the last time this weekend.

As I drove up, it was apparent that demolition was well underway. The first satellite store that I saw was nothing but a concrete skeleton. Fortunately, this seemed like the only part that work had started on, as far as destroying stuff goes. As I entered the interior of the mall, much of the debris and junk that used to litter the floors and hallways seemed to have been piled up, or removed completely. Large piles of trash that has been removed from inside the mall dot the parking lots, but it's strange that they remove all this stuff when the building is just going to be coming down on top of it anyway.

The satellite store was bare, all of its walls having been removed. The only thing remaining that showed that it was anything but a parking garage was the center escallator. I would've went upstairs, but unfortunately it must've been turned off at the time.

Once I was inside, I headed for the part of the mall that I most wanted to visit: the basement bowling alley. It's amazing to me that when the place closed down, all of the pins and balls were just left there. Now they lie scattered about, many of them in the flooded areas at the back of the lanes, where one can peer into the murkey water and see old muddy bowling balls peering back. If anyone has photos of this place while it was in operation, I would love to see them!

From the bowling alley, I entered a room where many of the mall's seasonal decorations were still stored. However, multitudes of four feet tall toy soldiers had been thrown into a large pile, decapitated. Some of them had even been pierced with spears and hung from the walls. If I didn't know any better, I'd say that some pesky kids had found their way down there and wreaked a little havoc!

Before I left the mall, I wandered the main hallways for awhile, taking extra time to take my last photos of the place, and especially the famous clocktower in the center. Yes, it is still there, and like the rest of River Roads, it will soon be nothing but a pile of Rubble. It is such a shame that an icon that so many remember from years past will be lost. I almost wish someone would steal it, if only to preserve one small piece of St. Louis's recent history. Seriously, someone take it. I don't have a truck.


Blogger OutAndAbout said...

Great photos!! Thanks so much for posting! I envy that you made it inside and got to look around. I have visited the mall 3 times over the past couple years and never worked up the nerve to go inside. I just had this creepy feeling I was not the only one there. Thanks again for the great post!!

9:30 PM  
Blogger Retro Attic said...

Love the photos!

11:28 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Thanks for posting the great photos. My mom and I used to catch the Bi-State to River Roads just about every Saturday when I was a kid in the late 60s-to mid-70s. The Woolworth store was one of my favorite places in the world back then, especially the toy and pet departments on the lower level...

I'd love to find photos of the mall in it's early days, or at least before it's rapid decline had started in the 80s. It's not too surprising that they're hard to find though.

1:30 PM  
Blogger John said...

Is this the same mall that was used in the filming of the Blues Brothers? Sure looks like it.

6:10 PM  
Blogger Urban said...

Great photos! Abandoned malls are very photogenic, and hard to find!! The Blues Brothers was filmed at the Dixie Square Mall in Harvey, IL. I have photos from many trips there on my website: Chucks Photo Spot

6:58 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

I drove past the River Roads site in November of 2008. It's hard to describe the level of complete destruction that I saw there. I took my flipcam and shot a short video of it as I drove past it, and again as I drove back past it later. The scene was very surreal.

7:22 PM  
Blogger stevels said...

I guess the pins were just too old to take?

I was in leagues at Northland Bowl and only bowled at Riverroads rarely. Their lanes never seemed to be as well run or advertised as Northland.

Any idea if someone got the clocktower? I was told by Jennings City Hall that someone paid for the riverboat signs on the outside but not sure where they ended up.

12:03 PM  
Blogger said...

Goodbye River Roads,
Hello Walmart.

8:19 PM  

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