Final day of Metrocenter Mall
On June 30th, 2020 after 47 years of operation Metrocenter Mall in Phoenix, Arizona closed its doors for the final time. While the news was not surprising to anybody who has lived in the valley for a long time it was still sad to see a valley icon shutdown. What was once the largest indoor mall in North America when it opened in 1973 had been reduced to a shell of its former self in recent years with many factors including higher crime rates, the economic recession of 2008 and the viability of shopping malls in general led to its slow but eventual demise.
As someone who grew up roughly three miles from the mall and lived in the west valley nearly my entire life, I have fond memories of the mall from riding my bike to the mall on weekends to elementary choir concerts to even slipping and falling in the food court with a full tray of food. While the mall was already starting its decline as I was growing up it was still a fun place to hang out and shop. These photos were taken on Metrocenter's final day as a tribute to a great mall.
In this blog, I tried to be as I so eloquently put it, "artsy-fartsy". While I want to celebrate the mall and my memories of it, it was also kind of a sad day. Shots like these in black and white with long shadows and empty walkways filled the mood.
Originally I was going to edit the photos and post them only in black and white but I felt that would take away from the beauty and color that did fill the mall in it's glory days.
One of the fantastic features the mall had in its architecture was the fact that down each of the three main isles there were great big skylights that allowed so much natural light to fill the mall.
Even with all of the sunlight that came in with the downward spiral the mall had over its final years the place always seemed dark and empty.
This entire wing that held the Sears anchor at one time had been empty except for one or two smaller shops for several years.
One of the many empty stores.
This area in front of the old Sears brought a lot of memories back. Every year our elementary school took part in a district band/chorus concert during the holidays and I remember playing here many times.
Here is an interesting shot I liked of the sunlight beating down on the staircase. I always liked the copper color of the step edges.
I always liked some of the color combinations of the furniture throughout the mall. Since I liked it, that probably means they do not even come close to matching.
Copper and turquoise are one of my favorite color combinations because they are two staple colors of Arizona. So naturally I've always liked the tile pattern around the mall.
As I mentioned I always liked how the mall lit up from the natural lighting. Where the wings of the mall met there were these beautiful circular skylights.
When I was a kid there were great big fountains right under these skylights and anytime we got to go to the mall I always looked forward to seeing the big fountains shoot off.
The fountains were replaced many years ago. One by this seating area and another by a kid's play area.
Metrocenter was the first mall to house five anchors. In recent years all but Dillards had left and even the Dillards only occupied one of the two floors.
This sight was all too common in the final years.
Some of the artificial trees that were added in recent years.
All around the mall were little intricate details in flooring, walls, and entryways. These tiles, which were originally gold, lined the walls of what was originally a Goldwaters. It later became a Robinsons May which turned into a Macy's before ending up vacant in recent years.
Another common sight at Metrocenter in the final years were the escalators that were always broken down.
Things were not all doom and gloom in the final years of the mall. The central wing did still have quite a few kiosks and shops that hung on.
Mall staples like Hot Topic and Champ Sports were open on the last day.
An empty kiosk overlooking the central mall wing.
As it got closer to noon there were more and more people showing up to take one final stroll around Metrocenter.
As lunchtime approached, I made my way over to the food court only to find that all the food places empty. Even the pizza and Chinese joint which was the last two places open when I stopped by about six months prior had finally closed.
It was sort of eerie seeing the bright colors from the paint and skylight almost contrasted by the dark and emptiness of the shuttered food court business.
Another area that was in stark contrast to the dark outer ring of the food court was a well-lit seating area that was carved out of an old food stand several years ago. It had a pretty cool mural showing the Phoenix city limits as it was at the end of the 19th century.
This use to be a McDonalds when I was a kid and later it was a generic shop that served deli/diner-style food.
I probably spent more time in this place than any other spot in the mall. This use to house the arcade and I spent many hours and a lot of money playing all sorts of games in here. I would not say I was unbeatable in Daytona USA or NBA Jam but I could beat most kids who played me.
Taking one final ride down the elevator. I think most people, including myself, were always surprised these were still functioning.
One thing that I don't think has changed since I was a kid was the design of the elevators. I always thought they were cool.
Another store that changed very little since I was a teenager was Brute Force Sports.
I talked to the owner James Hurley for a few minutes in between transactions and he told me that he is planning on re-opening at another location but the property owner for Metrocenter gave everyone less than two weeks' notice that the mall was closing.
Looking north from where the old Broadway and later Macy's anchor was located.
A random Lens Crafters that was tucked into the corner.
Looking through the plastic trees up into the skylights.
One final beam of light on the last day of Metrocenter mall.
A random shot I like with an empty kiosk in the foreground and the skylight in the background.
After shooting the bulk of my photos in the early afternoon I came back right before closing time for the car show that night. These were from literally the final moments of Metrocenter. A long line extends out of Hot Topic.
One of the unique things I saw was a couple of teens skateboarding in the mall. It kind of reminded of when there was a Vans skatepark in the mall.
Another thing that took me back was listening to a live band inside of the mall. A local band called Commiserate played under the rotunda as the final minutes counted down.
This was the crowd that gathered to watch and listen to Commiserate.
A good-sized crowd heading for the exits after the 6 pm closing.
As my buddy and I were walking out I noticed an access hallway door that was open so I figured it was a cool chance to explore. What's the worst that can happen? Get banned for life from a mall that is permanently closing?
Here was one of the access ways with electrical boxes for the food court shops.
We found the service elevator. We were going to ride it but you needed a ket to activate it.
A couple more shots from an area not too many people have been or seen.
Well, this wraps up a final look at a place that held a lot of memories for a lot of people who had lived or currently live in the Phoenix area. While most people expected Metrocenter's closing for many years it is still sad to see Metrocenter fade away. Hopefully, the property can be developed into something that will revitalize the area and maybe make the Metrocenter area a destination once again.