The First Enclosed Shopping Mall to be Built in Michigan, 1961
What is it? No, it's not the Northland Center, in Southfield. The Northland was indeed the world’s largest shopping center, and the first in Michigan, opening in 1954.....but it was not originally enclosed.
The honor of Michigan's first enclosed shopping mall goes to Rogers Plaza in Wyoming, a suburb just south of Grand Rapids. It opened in 1961, was the first mall in western Michigan, and Michigan's first enclosed mall – a mall with an actual roof hovering over all the shops...an event that awed Michiganders at the time (the Northland finally put on a roof in 1974).
Upon opening, Rogers Plaza had an A&P, Cunningham Drugs, Kresge's, Kroger, Montgomery Ward, and many other small shops and stores. Other shops soon followed...but by the 1990s, business began slacking off. Throughout the 90s, shops closed and replaced by others, who in turn ended up closing.
Montgomery Ward finally left in December 2000, taking almost 150 jobs with it. Redevelopments, altered drives & streets, plans for improvements, and squabbles continued...now, in the 2020s, the structure is referred to as a 'dead mall” - meaning it's still open, but very little – if any – customers...almost barren.
The gallery below shows many photos of how one of Michigan's historic malls looks now: devoid of people with a handful of businesses still open but without customers.
So how do we bring business back to the malls? How do we fill them up again to become the bustling teenage hangout and shoppers frenzy it used to be? It doesn't take an Einstein to figure out a solution, you know: just eliminate online shopping for good.
But we know that ain't gonna happen.
Michigan's First Enclosed Mall
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