Thursday, April 07, 2016

Third Street, Santa Monica

Santa Monica Mall, 1970

When I was a kid, what is now known at the Third Street Promenade was just a regular shopping street in Santa Monica, 3rd St. between Wilshire and Colorado, that ended at Sears. You could DRIVE down 3rd St. You could PARK on 3rd St. It was a kid's dream with Woolworth's, Newberry's, J.C. Penney's, old book and record stores, retro clothing shops, hamburger joints and more. It was funky and fun, a great place to hang out if we didn't continue to the beach. It was easy for a kid to get there on the bus from Beverly Hills.
The SM Mall, being reconfigured to exclude automobiles. 1965. Security Pacific Bank Collection

Santa Monica Mall, 1979. Photo by Annie Laskey

By around 1965, the City of Santa Monica and the local merchants decided to make the three main blocks of this area a walking only street. No cars. They "beautified" the street with benches, fountains and brick sidewalks. Most of the old stores stayed.
1970. Hey! Where are the sculpted panels to that fountain now?
1970. Newberry's in the background
In 1980 the southern portion of the Santa Monica Mall, as it was then called, became a real mall called Santa Monica Place. This was a clunky, enclosed mall with three levels, designed by architect Frank Gehry. SM Place has since been updated and re-designed. By the late 1980s, the old Third Street Mall was deemed seedy and it was re-designed and made into the Third Street Promenade. Big-time change! 
Late 1980s, ANOTHER revitalization of The Mall to The Promenade

Many of the little Mom and Pop stores left and the chain stores moved in. The Promenade was really an extension of the enclosed Mall, SM Place. Sigh. One of my favorite stores at 3rd and Wilshire was Europa. They carried all sorts of European linens and other old world accessories. I was a new bride in 1974 and purchased many tablecloths with matching napkins at Europa. Sigh. The new and improved Promenade houses restaurants, movie theaters, chain stores, boutique-y kiosks and the same shops that every other mall in America has. It's proximity to the beach and the Santa Monica Pier has made it a tourist destination. Double sigh.
Third Street Promenade, 2014

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At 6:18 PM PDT, Blogger Unknown said...

I had about half of the second floor of the old brick building on the corner in the 90s. Loved it.
The building is from the 1880s, one of the first hotels in the area. The old brick interior wall still shows where the hotel rooms and fireplaces had been.

At 6:41 PM PDT, Blogger Ellen Bloom said...

Is this Robert Reznick?

At 11:32 PM PDT, Blogger blandina said...

Sadly, the same shops that you find not only in other malls in the US, but in the world... This is one of the disadvantages of globalization. But what an interesting trip in time you wrote!

At 9:46 AM PDT, Blogger Ellen Bloom said...

Thanks, Blandina!

At 5:18 AM PDT, Blogger Pigumon said...

I've always had a feeling the mall in Pee-Wee's Big Adventures was 3rd Street Promenade before it was a promenade. I'm almost sure of it now... guess I could google it...

At 7:47 AM PDT, Blogger Ellen Bloom said...

I believe you are correct, Pigumon!


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