Monday, July 20, 2009

Greenbriar Mall (Update from July 16, 2006 post)

It was the first major shopping mall on the southside of Atlanta and the second enclosed mall in Georgia. When Greenbriar Mall opened on September 23, 1965, it brought first-class shopping to the largely overlooked southside. Flanking the then under-construction Lakewood Freeway (SR 166) and I-285, the mall opened with anchors Rich's, JCPenney and Piccadilly Cafeteria. JCPenney moved there from its smaller, undersized location located at open-air Lakewood Mall on the other end of the new freeway. The Rich's there was the fifth suburban location and offered three floors of merchandise, further drawing traffic from the downtown store. Greenbriar Mall also became a landmark, because it was the site of the very first Chick Fil-A, which opened there two years later in 1967. Chick-Fil-A itself was founded in nearby Riverdale as a local diner, so this was the nearest location for their new store concept, which grew dramatically since and has remained a staple of malls today. A Chick-Fil-A continues to operate in the mall today, though not in the original location.


Arial shot of the mall from a 1965 postcard. Image is from Malls of America.

Greenbriar Mall was typical of most early shopping malls: two multi-level anchors, one story and an underground section of the mall used for offices and a bowling alley. The presence of a bowling alley in this mall was not known, however. Also like the original malls of the era, the mall contains stores only accessable from the outside as well as in-line tenants. Since the mall opened, it had an interior renovation in 1987 and an exterior renovation in 1997. Also, Greenbriar Mall was distinctly positioned to be a major mall at the intersection of two Atlanta belt routes. The problem is that one of those, I-420, was never completed and the designation canceled. This would have made a by-pass for I-20 extending from Douglasville to I-20 east of Atlanta including the completed Lakewood Freeway. If that would have actually helped the mall, though, is unknown since the project was canceled in 1983.


View of northeast entrance corridor.




Looking along the main mall concourse. The first and third photos show detail of the open-air mall-like overhang and the last of the skylights. The original makeup of this corridor was likely much boxier. The last photo shows the escalator/stairs to the small basement level in the background.


Looking at the northwest entrance corridor. Piccadilly Cafeteria is on the left, and it still looks somewhat gothic on the inside. Outside this entrance is an outdoor sidewalk that leads to the former Circuit City building and entrance.

While the mall maintained stable tenants for the first 20 years, the mall began to see many stores come and go. However, these were met with a strong local interest and investment to keep the mall viable. JCPenney closed there location on September 28, 1985 after 20 years of operation. The local community met the closing with protests that included then-mayor of Atlanta Andrew Young, but to no avail. However, the mall has kept this location filled since aside from a couple brief periods of vacancy. In 1987, Upton's took over the former JCPenney along with the opening of a new Circuit City outside the mall next to JCPenney. Later, in mid-1992, Cub Foods opened a location on a mall outlot facing Lakewood Freeway. Unfortunately, later in 1992 both Upton's and the McCrory's in the mall closed for good, but the mall continued to move forward.


Coming down the escalator to the small lower level basement area. Escalators and steps back up are visible in the background. This area is today used for mall offices and conferences.


Looking back at the down escalator and stairs from the main mall level.


Blurry shot with detail of the downstairs level. The mall management office is the lighted room on the left.


Looking at the up escalator and stairs back to the main mall concourse from the main mall level. A barrier is placed on three sides.

In 1995, the former JCPenney site was resurrected again, bringing Burlington Coat Factory in as an anchor. While not what the mall had hoped, it has been a lasting anchor in the mall. The Burlington Coat Factory opened on September 1st of that year and remains today. In November 1996, former basketball star Magic Johnson opened his Magic Johnson Theaters on the southwest outlot of the mall. Magic Johnson had a personal interest in the area, and its opening created a lot of press at the time. Also, at some point during that time an IHOP was added on the southwest corner of the mall connected to south side of the Burlington Coat Factory. Still, that did not mean the mall did not have new challenges to deal with. Cub Foods closed in 2001 along with all of the other Georgia locations and remains vacant today. In addition, Circuit City closed at the mall when it relocated to nearby Camp Creek Marketplace in early 2006.


Current mall directory. The basement level is shown above the main mall map.

When Camp Creek Marketplace opened, it was the first major retail development in the southside since Greenbriar itself opened. In an area shunned for retail because of a predominantly African-American population, this was a very big deal. The problem was that it also was competing with the mall for business, which has led to redevelopment talks. In 2006, a redevelopment plan was announced after Hendon Properties bought 50 percent interest in the mall in conjunction with the existing owners. The discussion is to redevelop the mall most likely with a lifestyle addition similar to other Atlanta malls as well as attempting to upscale the mall. What also helps the mall is the strong commitment that Rich's, now Macy's has to the mall. In 2001, Rich's owners Federated Department Stores signed a 10 year lease with the mall. Recent renovations to the store inside and out prove the company's commitment to Greenbriar Mall.




Burlington Coat Factory mall entrance and BCF court. This was Penney's from 1965-1985 and Upton's from 1987-1992. Note the Upton's design elements. Also note the Maxway in the court. Maxway is owned by the same company as Rose's, but is located in urban neighborhoods. In the last photo, the northwest entrance court (behind me) leads straight to the southwest entrance court (ahead).

Much fear has surrounded the future of Greenbriar Mall for over two decades, however. By the mid-1980's, the neighborhood around the mall had transitioned from a predominantly white to predominantly African-American community. Stores and businesses in the area began to close all around the mall, and the fear in the time was that the mall was in danger of failure. In that era, the mall attained a strong image as ghetto, and the closure of JCPenney at the mall caused panic. The funny thing is that the new community around the mall really cared about what was going on and was determined to keep that from happening. Since that time the mall has continued to maintain high occupancy, and the neighborhood around the mall has seen substantial improvement in the past decade. A new Kroger was built near the mall and empty shopping centers found new tenants.



Rich's/Macy's court. This photo was taken at a better angle and further back than the previous Rich's photos I took in 2005. See below for actual Rich's photos. The second photo is looking back into the court. The fountain had water in it, but for some reason was not operational. BCF court had a fountain, too, that was covered.

However, that is not to say the mall does not have its problems. The community is looking to erase these problems, but notorious events that tend to be difficult for any mall. However, these can be overcome such as the food court shooting incident at Perimeter Mall in 1989. Perimeter Mall is alive and very well today, and to say there is no urban element at the mall is blind, but it is the third most upscale mall in Atlanta. Nevertheless, Greenbriar is still ranked highly as one of the most dangerous malls in the nation, likely due to incidents such as the Freaknik looting of the Rich's in 1995 and the recent murder of two teens by a gunman at the mall in 2008. Is this a deserved bad reputation or just a media misperception? It is a bit hard to cast a completely positive image to the city as a whole when the mall has hardly any white customers and shoppers of higher income, regardless of race, have reservations about shopping there.



Outside view of the JCPenney/Upton's/Burlington Coat Factory. The ribbed design is original, but the greenhouse design is all Upton's. The second photo shows an IHOP making up the southwest corner in front of the JCPenney. Apparently JCPenney never had an entrance on this side.

Greenbriar today is on the inside actually a very attractive mall in a convenient location. Its interior decor and history make it appealing above many other malls in the city, but it remains a mall that caters exclusively to an urban demographic. Don't expect to find American Eagle, Old Navy or H&M in the mall, but do expect to find the mall is doing much better than people will tell you. The mall is full of stores and gets plenty of customers, but those in the area with more money are driving past it to better shopping. Southlake, another predominately African-American mall, has a lot of the trendy national clothing stores. All of those left Greenbriar before 1990.


The Lakewood Freeway side has many shops open only to the outside of the mall.


Southeast mall entrance with outside shops on the left and Rich's/Macy's on the right. A Rich's labelscar is still visible next to the Macy's sign.

Maybe I do not understand the market well enough, but I have to wonder if this mall can support better stores than urban fashions and knock-offs considering that there is a much larger middle class population in the area than in the past. Would a store like Belk or a return of JCPenney make it at the mall? For the time being, the mall is doing quite well considering its challenges over the past 24 years. When Macy's lease runs out in 2011 will its fortunes stay bright? As its age approaches half a century, it is hoped the mall never gets a post on deadmalls.com or ends up in the retail graveyard like comparable classic River Roads Mall in St Louis did. Of course, all of that depends on if the neighborhood is really on its way back and further investment in the mall is successful in making it competitive against Southlake and a potential comeback of Shannon.


Exterior view of Rich's/Macy's from lower level south entrance. Most of the glass display windows are covered up and extra entrances sealed off. It is wondered if this was done in response to the 1995 incident.


Rich's photos from 2004 and 2005:





46 comments:

  1. JT:

    Never having been to Greenbriar myself, I don't know nearly as much about this place as I do other malls in Atlanta.

    Would you say that this mall is similar to what Columbia was -- simple "I" shape, two anchors, built in the 60s? How do they compare in size, excluding the Circuit City (was that Cub as well?) and theater?

    Just from looking at the pictures, it seems that Greenbriar is appreciably larger than Columbia, and the Rich's seems much larger than the Davison's was at Cola.

    Well, I've never actually been to Columbia either...oh well.

    As an aside, how did you manage to get all of these great pictures of Rich'ses? Did you just walk up with your camera and start shooting, or were you a little more discreet about it? I'm sure you've gotten plenty of strange looks...any run-ins with security?

    Matt

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  2. It was what I called "The Rich's Project". Basically when they announced that Rich's was history, I took multiple roadtrips making Rich's stores a big part of my trip. I went and did my best to get pics without being seen or caught, but I did get some strange looks. Some stores I had more pictures of than others.

    I also had two run-ins with mall security at Town Center Mall and at Stonecrest. Unfortunately, that limited my interior mall entrance shots of the Rich's at Stonecrest. It was difficult. I had to go and act casual to elude mall security and make sure they were out of sight several times when doing it.

    Greenbriar is decidedly larger than Columbia and I really don't know much about the mall other than what I saw in 2004-2005 and its early history. The Davison's at Columbia was smaller and two stories. As far as I know, the ONLY large R.H. Macy store I saw built was the Macy's (never a Davison's) at Town Center aside from the downtown store. However, the Gwinnett Davison's might have been three stories, but I never saw it open.

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  3. Davison's at Gwinnett Place had three stories.

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  4. I remember going to the Dipper Dan's at Greenbriar for my 6th birthday party--in 1968.

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  5. Stephen StricklandApril 20, 2007 at 12:45 PM

    I remember going to Greenbriar when I was a kid in the 70's. They had these cool concrete, painted animals, even a whale, that you could play on. They also used to have a large aviary at one point, black wrought iron, large at the base & tapering to the top near the ceiling. I actually climbed to the top of the Rich's wall when I was little, using the staggered jutting out bricks!

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  6. I am looking for any photos of the Picadilly Restaurant that was in the Greenbriar mall. It was running a Ponce De Leon Fountain of Youth theme in the late 60's early 70's. If anyone remembers this or has photos I will pay$ for them. The Atlanta Journal and the Picadilly have never heard of this themed version of the Picadilly!

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  7. What now houses the Burlington used to be Upton's not Stein Mart. The Rich's/Macy's is still a very good store. Great Merchandise without all the high brow of Lenox or Perimeter.

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  8. I worked at Rich's in the Magnolia Tea Room during my senior year at Therrell High School in 1970-71 and during my first two years of college at Georgia State. The tea room had a balcony which overlooked the mall -- all the customers wanted a balcony seat. The tea room served a fabulous chicken marengo. The movie theater was downstairs in the mall, as was a branch of that Atlanta library. There was also a Woolworth's.

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    1. Oh wow, I remember this mall so well! Shopped there, went to the movies, then downstairs, and just hung out many times. This was all during the same years you worked there!

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  9. As we lived nearby, I remember Greenbriar mall from the time it was under construction. I remember that a man fell and was killed while working on the Rich's outside sign. Also, soon after opening a man who ran a locksmith store in the mall was killed by a robber. All these made an impression on a young boy esp in an area with little crime or violence. I remember watching fireworks in the back parking lot and some kind of event for kids where they molded plastic dinosaurs for us. I spent many hours at the mall. Besides the other stores mentioned, I remember the Radio Shack (which had a big impact on my career choice). I would correct the comment that the Chick-Fil-A was the first opened. It was probably the first in a mall but the original Chick-Fil-A was not in a mall but was located in Hapeville. Another unique thing was some years after opening a Kroger opened in the mall; it was full sized as I remember but probably impractical to fight mall traffic to get your groceries to the car. I remember the animals in front of Rich's and so many other details. It's strange how much stronger the memories are than for much more recent places I have been. Thanks for the memories.

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  10. You know, my memories of Greenbriar are so very vivid too. I wonder why? I remember learning to drive in the Penney's parking lot, the smoothness of the gray paint on the whales, ... and bless you for reminding me of the aviary, which I'd long ago forgotten about. I can remember the chirping of the birds inside.

    I also remember the Happy Herman's and the Kroger, and getting the Chick-Fil-A meals in the little house-shaped cardboard box.

    Anyone else remember the Finale room on the third floor of the Rich's store at Greenbriar in the eighties? It was a tiny version of Downtown's Finale on Five, to be sure, but it was great shopping all the same.

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  11. It's a shame that Camp Creek wasn't done as an adjunct to Greenbriar--it probably would have helped the mall maintain itself better. The success of Camp Creek would suggest that mid-range retail could do well in that area. OTOH, despite having affluent, stable neighborhoods nearby and gentrification a relatively short distance away in East Point, there probably are limits to what the market will support. The development of new subdivisions targeting middle class African-Americans have tended to be in areas further South or in South Dekalb or Stone Mountain. There are other Atlanta malls that have failed to grab middle class or gentrifying, nearby populations (e.g., North Dekalb) and the African-American middle class in Atlanta may be too fragmented, geographically, to fully support a mall with typical mall retailers. Lenox gets the students from Black colleges and the higher end of this spectrum. The less well off seem to dominate at North and South Dekalb. Northlake and Stonecrest, among others get a mixed trade, although Northlake has been losing mall stores for years.

    The DC area has a similarly large African-American middle class but despite being more geographically concentrated, it could not sustain the huge Landover Mall (which came to be surrounded by crime ridden apartment complexes), but does seem to be sustaining Prince Georges Plaza. Shopping in other parts of the DC area with large African-American clientele is either spread over smaller, older complexes that are near each other (Iverson, Marlow Heights, Forest Village) or older complexes that are not quite the right size or in the right place (Laurel Plaza). All of these are limping along. Wheaton Plaza now has a large Hispanic trade, but a multi-racial customer base.

    I don't know if the JCPenney actually replaced the Stewart-Lakewood store, initially. They often kept dry goods stores going for awhile (often for many years) even if they were relatively short distances away from new mall stores. The Stewart-Lakewood store had a long life as an outlet store for JCPenney.

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  12. HistoricAerials.com shows that there used to be a circular building at the south entrance to the mall on Greenbriar Parkway.

    Does anyone know what this building was? It must have been demolished in the 1980s because it doesn't show up in the 1988 aerial. Is it one of those rotunda Gulf stations like the one that used to be at Lenox?

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    1. Yes it was a round rotunda gulf stations. Very stae of the art in the day.My grandmothers land backed up to the mall at the gulf station.She would drive us through the woods to the mall in her old farm jeep,good memories.

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  13. Awww Greenbriar my 2nd home. Even though I live way out in Lithonia now, I still go to the barbershop there and go to Chick Fil A. It's routine. I remember the theater in the basement and the library that was down there. That was just ODD? You guys stories are great. I wish I could have seen Greenbriar in its heyday. The oldest store I remember is Woolworths on the backside, I believe there was a Kessler's here as well?? I remember McCorys too. It's a very vague memory. I remember Uptons because I believe they updated that space that BCF is in. I remember when Circuit City built onto the side of the mall. I thought that was cool. I love this mall like it was a child of mine. I wish I could buy it.

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  14. Sherman, I am a real sucker for malls with a history. I love the first generation malls, and part of that is that they really tried hard to put unique touches on them. I wonder if Cobb Center had been in a majority black area instead of a mix of older white and Hispanic if it would have survived. I only have a few malls left in Atlanta to cover, but I gave up on covering Stonecrest since that mall is apparently run by Nazis.

    As to Upton's, the whole Upton's phenomenon was a bit of a flash in the pan, and it wasn't much better than BCF. Upton's popped up out of nowhere in the late 80's then vaporized in the late 90's.

    Aside from that, I would be very interested to know if Kessler's was actually at that mall. If so, where was it? It had to be a junior anchor. The only mall-based location I have ever seen listed was at Cobb Center, which closed in the early 1990's. I do remember Kessler's advertising a lot, though...they were fairly spread out but did not have the best locations. Most were downtown when downtown wasn't exactly doing so hot. I really need to do a post on them. I guess Wal-Mart killed them...they shut down about the time that Wal-Mart began upgrading their stores. I just need one photo in order to do a page on them.

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  15. Awesome updates to your post, JT! Greenbriar seems to have a great bit of history associated with it, and you're right that stupid racist attitudes many hold have unnecessrily hurt this mall. I live in the Chicago area, and I've seen this EXACT SAME phenomenon and parallel hurt River Oaks Mall in Calumet City(ridiculous racial prejudices some whites hold hurt that mall, to the point that businesses it gained after being converted to an indoor mall in '94 closed in later years, such as Pac Sun and American Eagle). Also keep in mind Calumet City at about the same time began changing from a predominantly white suburban area into a predominantly black area today, and I feel this has unnecessarily hurt the perception of nearby South Holland and Lansing(both in contrast still majority white, but today by smaller margins).

    Not to also mention, as someone who visited my now deceased grandmother in the south burbs a lot when I was very young, I recall at least a few times shopping at the Southlake Rich's. Do you know how lenient mall security is at both Greenbriar and Southlake? I'd love to do a special side trip one day to get interior pics of both malls, if the security isn't ridiculous like Stonecrest!

    -dumpstermcnuggets/Allan M. on labelscar(signing in anonymously, due to probs signing w/my regular wordpress name)

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  16. Here's my take on security. My last major run in is because I failed to follow my own cardinal rule: no photographing malls on Saturday. However, my last visit to Southlake was on a Saturday and I actually did not see that much security for a mall that is still a quasi-first-tier mall despite the hype. GGP malls tend to have the least (visible at least) while CBL malls are Paul Blart central. Forest City Malls (Stonecrest), however, are absurd. It was more like paying a visit to the courthouse than a visit to a mall.

    If you can wing it, my best advice is to go early in the week (Monday-Thursday) and go in the morning hours. However, Greenbriar had more security and I came dangerously close to being caught that day unfortunately...otherwise I would have covered more. I really stood out in that mall, so it was extra hard, but I would have been severely irritated if that failed because it was such a high priority. Could you do some pics of South DeKalb or West End? I'm a lot closer to my goal with Atlanta and N GA.

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  17. By west end, do you mean the malls in the western suburbs or just west of Atlanta? (i.e. Arbor Place, Shannon Mall(if it's even still open, not sure how much of that mall remains open today), Cumberland Mall) Since if you were asking me to do that, I don't think I could help you on getting pics of malls you don't have, due to the fact I'm in the process of doing job training for a field I want to go into, plus currently don't have the income to do a lot of long-distance travel right now. One day I'd love to get pics of the malls you're referring to, but will be blunt by saying it'll be at least a few years before any opportunities come to travel to Atlanta, to do pics of their local malls.

    Do you have any idea how lenient Simon malls(i.e. Lenox Square, Phipps come to mind) is on security, or if they have a tendency to bully those taking interior photography, like Forest City or (sometimes, guessing this company is inbetween on this) CBL? I'd like you to elaborate on CBL, since I may try to photograph a mall they own in Racine, WI(Regency) later this year, and one day want to return to a mall they own in Bloomington, IL(Eastland).

    -dumpstermcnuggets/Allan

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  18. Allan...thought you were local sorry lol. No there actually is a Mall at West End, which I am hoping to do a post on in the future. I do have some knowledge on it, and it is an extremely rough mall...a true ghetto mall in every way. I read a blog about how bad it was recently. Nevertheless, it would be nice to have in my portfolio. It took me seven years to learn of all the malls in the city, their history and where they are.

    All of those other malls you've mentioned I actually have photos of. Forest City has such high security that photography is near impossible. Their rules on photography are harsher than any mall...that is why I have been unable to do a portfolio on Stonecrest so far. To me, they have nothing to hide...it's a nice contemporary mall. I was busted there taking photos in 2005 of the Rich's, but at least the guy wasn't a jerk. I was there in the day in the week when I went then. Perhaps you could get permission, but reason says they would restrict you so much that you'd ultimately be flagged and never get any photos. Nevertheless, these are going to be hard. Try early day early week if you're going to try.

    Long distance travel for me has been extremely difficult. I have some long range plans, but I am going to have to raise some money first and gas is getting bad again. I just significantly broke into a "new" state recently, which was a big step. I took advantage of an opportunity for my last trip and split costs with a friend. Unfortunately I had to push so hard it made it more stressful than I would have liked.

    This is why I keep hoping more contributors will come forward, and I have tried to recruit a couple out-of-town friends to help me out, but mall/shopping center photography is awkward at best, and it makes people nervous. The two guys from Labelscar have related their problems from time to time. I do have a couple mall photo galleries contributed several years ago that I am planning on publishing...one is completely on the other side of the country, so the market of Belk stores I am not limited to.

    Lenox and Phipps both have high security, but I was very lucky with both. They both have damn good reasons for that security, too...popular luxury malls tied to the city subway system. Just follow the rules I posted on my last thread, and if you can go with a friend because it makes you not stand out as much. I am careful on my posts to be mostly positive on the malls/stores/shopping centers I cover, because there was a story where a similar blog was shut down by an irate store chain about five years ago. Simon is strict, too, and be wary that their mall cops are on Segways. It pretty much works on the principal of a lead foot that knows where the speed traps are and avoids getting caught.

    In all, most of the contributions I need are outside of North Georgia...I've pretty much got it covered, unless it involves historical photos, period magazine scans or newspaper scans. Maybe I can achieve this with the FB group.

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  19. You sound like you're going through some of the same probs as I am(financial situation GREATLY limiting what very little trips/vacations, photography trips, etc. I can pull off, very crap to nil luck when it comes to applying for jobs, etc.). I am working for the Census Bureau currently(get too little hours, and it's one of those off-and-on job assignments, le sigh what can you do?), and just applied to be an election judge.

    Unlike yourself, my experiences with mall photography are more limited, but I pulled it off at a few malls, plus back in my Illinois State University days, I pulled off shooting a pic of a mall security SUV at Eastland Mall in Bloomington, IL for fun(pulled that one off by 15-20 seconds, then a mall security guy walked right by the bus stop outside the mall where I was standing waiting for a bus to go back to campus, and got so giddy after pulling the pic off that I got very nervous he'd give me a dirty look. didn't happen!). Even funnier to think the bus stop was right by a seldom-used entrance(other than bus riders, like me at that time) that immediately led one by Eastland's mall security office!

    Moving away from Eastland, locally in the Chicago area, I have pulled off mall photography at a limited number of malls, including Harlem-Irving Plaza, Hawthorn Center, Golf Mill, to name a few. The next one I want to focus on is Lincolnwood Town Center(greatly grew up going here as a youth and teen, since it was the closest mall to where I grew up, it opened about when I was 10, and it's a rare mall where I could do an extremely great job of documenting its history, despite that I'll fudge up exact year(s) when many past stores left that mall). It's a great preserved example of early '90s mall decor, if you ever visit the Chicago area. Hence, my question about Simon, since they own both this mall, Lenox, and heck(haha) their hundreds of malls nationwide!

    I do have a paid flickr account(prfsnlwannabe), but got too lazy since last summer in properly uploading pics there, and just after signing up for a paid account in spring '09. Am gonna get cooking to get my account there active again, including the debut of that Eastland mall SUV gag pic to my flickr account. I also have at least a couple quality pics I took both inside and outside Golf Mill, during their 2006-07 renovation by GGP.

    -Allan

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  20. One more thing I should've cleared up: my dad's side of the family is from Georgia, which is why I have plenty of experience traveling to many parts of Georgia throughout my life. Sorry for any confusion you had earlier.

    As for West End, I can't believe I finally found some info on that mall today, since as familiar as I am with Atlanta malls, that's a rare one I've never heard of(probably b/c it was built with the idea to serve the very local community, but not as a regional mall)! The site I looked at said it had very little national retailers(few exemptions included Ashley Stewart and Foot Locker), did it ever used to have some traditional and more-known anchor stores like JCPenney, Rich's(Macy's), Macy's(Davison's), Sears, etc.?

    Of course, it's sad it'll be likely years before I can start properly getting some pics of Atlanta area malls. Finally, do you know if Shannon Mall is difficult to photograph in, due to the fact that mall has struggled to keep stores for a very long time?

    -Allan

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  21. Glad to have found your site! I moved from Ohio to the southside of Atlanta (Fayetteville) in 1972 when I was only four years old. For quite a while, Greenbriar was the closest mall for us. I can remember going to see the Easter Bunny AND Santa Claus there. Having come from the Midwest, we were used to having several malls close by so only having access to one far away was a big switch.

    The poster who remembered the bird cages and the concrete animals is spot on, I always thought those were the coolest things.

    When Southlake and Shannon were built, we didn't have to drive all the way to Greenbriar any more. And as you have pointed out, the makeup of the area changed drastically. I was personally sad to see the place start to slide in terms of losing anchor stores.

    Sadly, these days, Greenbriar comes up in the news only when there's been a shooting in the food court (not like the rampage-type one at Perimeter but a disagreement between two parties) or a robbery. The latest story was when it was announced that subsidized housing applications would be given out at Greenbriar on a certain day and all heck broke loose. This even landed on the network news.

    I live within two miles of Northlake Mall now and that's another sad story.

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  22. Hey J.T. it's Sherman A. back almost one year later. I need to work on my replies, I know. So I've moved back to the South Fulton area, deep in the woods out here, but I'm still going to Greenbriar to the barbershop and Chick-Fil-A. I'm actually the Mayor of Greenbriar on Foursquare now. lol My friends think I'm crazy for going to this mall so religiously. I read your reply about the Kessler's. I'll ask my dad tomorrow and he'll tell me where it was located. Did you know that the Foot Locker was the world's largest Foot Locker when it opened. I was kid when it opened and I remember a lot of buzz about it. My guess is that it's no longer the largest, but it's still pretty freaking huge. There's an Everest College in the old Cub Foods now. I have a photo of it if you would like it. As well as a HUGE Beauty Supply store in the old Circuit City now. The Magic Johnson theater closed and has re-opened as Greenbriar Theaters. How about that?? We got our theater back. The old Magic Johnson's Friday's is now a night club that does REALLY well obviously, because at night the whole parking lot and theater front lot is full of cars. So now you can watch a movie, shop, dance and get an education all within the same parking lot. Lol I've noticed that the Atlanta Police department has re-opened their mini precinct in the back of Rich's. Well Macy's you know. I just hope Greenbriar can stay out of the news for the bad. I think so far this year nothing has happened. In the beginning of next year I have to move down to Statesboro, my g/f is going to school full time and we have a boy on the way. Maybe you can do an article on the SMall. Statesboro Mall. Try to say that 3 times. I bet you can't! lol

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  23. I had heard a rumor that the Section 8 voucher riot happened at the mall, but I just looked it up and it was listed to be at Tri-City Shopping Center not Greenbriar. Glad the mall has alluded bad press lately.

    I just found a pic of how the mall originally looked, but I am not sure I really have permission to use it on the blog. The original design was like nothing I would have ever expected.

    Amazingly most of the malls in Atlanta don't seem to be hurting as much as you'd think from the housing crisis and high unemployment, but the ones we all expect to die are probably going to check out real soon over this (i.e. Shannon, North DeKalb).

    I'm lacking pics so far of West End, Underground and Stonecrest. I would really like someone to cover West End for me...that mall has kind of an interesting history and it is firmly trapped in 1989. I plan to get back to Atlanta on the blog very soon.

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  24. I have a photographic memory of the way Greenbriar used to look before they added that pinkish/peach color and added the green awnings of the front side of the building. The awnings were built into the building and they were white. Also the entrances to the mall were not as "extravagant." My older sister may have photos around her house of the mall before that renovation. I do frequent the West End area quite often, so I could go take photos for you and I guess since I'm already there, I can swing by Underground. Oh yea, that Section 8 mess was over in East Point in that old shopping center. If I'm ever in the Lithonia area again I could get photos for you there as well. I asked my dad about Kessler's at Greenbriar. He said it was actually down Campbellton Rd in the Campbellton Plaza. The photo on Atlanta Time Machine doesn't show a Kesslers, but that was taken in 1956, he didn't come up to Atlanta until 1966 and I'm sure he wasn't visiting that side of town until the 70's or 80's.

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  25. Anyone remember the West Gate plaza across from the mall on Campbellton Rd. There was a movie theater there as well. Theres an error in the intro for this site...it was a movie theater in the lower level not a bowling alley. I guess whats left of it is behind the sheetrock wall.

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    1. West Gate had a slot car track in the 60s next to the theater, that's the main thing I remember about it.

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  26. Update to my 12-21-10 post. Greenbrair Theatre. The wall is gone! You can see inside the lobby.

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  27. Update: Revolution Cinemas, which reopened the movie theatre at Greenbriar during 2010, was gone by 1st Quarter 2011.

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  28. I lived just a short bike ride away from Greenbriar, moving into the neighborhood just a few years after it opened. The arial view shows the site for the Gulf station on the South side of the mall.. one of the more odd designs ever attempted- round with a sort of exterior frame around the top, very similar to the one at Lenox Square. The original theater was a "full size" auditorium, which was later cut down to a multiplex size. Administrative offices as well as a dentist (my first experience with nitrous!!) were downstairs. The Library was not part of the original layout that I recall.

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  29. JT, according to mall rules, what happens if you get caught taking pictures by mall security at Forest City Mall?

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  30. My mom worked at Rich's from the time it opened at Greenbriar up until she retired in 1986. Rich's had a bakery and she often brought home brownies in a green and white box tied up with string. The brownies were great with Walnuts and a thin layer of chocolate frosting. Every brownie I have eaten since, not matter how good has paled in comparison. Also I too remember the concrete Animals and the Aviary. Don't forget Orange Julius.

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  31. Chick-Fil-A itself was founded in nearby Riverdale as a local diner. What???? I would do a little research on that as well as other things that were said.

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  32. Lived near Greenbriar early '70s as a kid and after my family moved out, worked as a teenager in the area, so have fond memories of the mall during the ‘70s. I'd kill my lunch hour at the Goldmine, or at Record Bar. Or go to Hi Fi Buys on Campbellton Rd...or Turtles...Picked up trash along the road by the mall (Greenbriar Pkly?) as a Boy Scout...My Dad and I saw Maynard Jackson there, shopping one day and my dad shook his hand. Can't remember if he was mayor yet or not.......but I remember my Dad explaining he was important…...but unfortunately right after, my Dad making derogatory remarks when a black guy drove by blaring "Jungle Boogie" out the window of his 70’s gangster Caddy.....memories.....

    Early '70's the area was diverse and transitional and I don't remember any trouble at the mall which I remember as vibrant. We did all our shopping at Rich’s, Penny’s, and Woolworths….got my first real hair cut at the stylist there, the name escapes me…. Radio Shack, Orange Julius….Happy Herman’s….and the birds. I can still remember the shreaking birds echoing throughout the mall as I wandered about…for some reason, I don’t remember the concrete animals though.

    We were in a nice neighborhood, walking distance to Greenbriar….middle class with colonial and splits with nice lawns..lot of airline people….the neighborhood was already integrated, but plenty of for sale signs I remember, and I remember my Mom freaking out when there was a stabbing (or shooting) at the local high school - Therrell - where I'd be going within a year or two. After that, overnight the for sale signs doubled, and we were out of there within the year with the white flight wave.

    I drove through the neighborhood area and it was surprisingly still very nice looking and well maintained - as I remembered it from the early '70s. There were even a few names on mailboxes I remembered - the first black folks that had moved in - that brought back memories. These were nice families though so it does not surprise me Greenbriar is still open. Hopefully they can keep the bad elements out.

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  33. My mother worked at the Rich's here long before I was born and tells me stories of the Coconut cake at the Magnolia Room. I remember being a very small boy and walking through a drug store to get into the mall and I remember a nice old lady giving out samples at the Chick-fil-A. The Baskin Robbins attached here was where I first tried French vanilla ice cream, haha.

    I haven't read the other comments above, and I'm sure someone has already addressed this, but the first Chick-fil-A opened as a diner in Hapeville, right next to Hartsfield. Greenbriar featured the first mall location of a Chick-fil-A in a time when, I believe, food outlets were not very common in shopping malls.

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  34. Don't forget the arcade.

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    1. Yes. You can't forget about "Goldmine" arcade. I was so excited to see a built-in dim underground cave with lots of arcade games at your exposal. It's was the place to be,in the early 80's.

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    2. I wished for the good ol' arcade days,to come back and stay for good.

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  35. My aunt worked here immediately after it opened. We visited once while they had a dinosaur exhibit and I got a vacuum-molded Brontosaur toy from a machine.

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  36. For what it's worth, the original Chick-Fil-A dwarf house is in Hapeville across the tracks from where the Ford plant was. It got its start as a popular lunch location for Ford.

    My mom got her hair cut at Greenbrier for years even after Shannon Mall opened (we lived in Union City). I remember Rich's, the aviary, and the animals.

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  37. (Accidentally hit a button, don't know if other post posted)

    For what it's worth, the original Chick-Fil-A Dwarf House opened in Hapeville across the tracks from the Ford plant (RIP Ford plant). It got its start as a popular lunch location for Ford.

    My mom got her hair cut at Rich's at Greenbrier for years even after we moved to Union City and Shannon Mall opened. I remember Rich's, the aviary, the animals, and the weird Gulf station.

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  38. Grew up in Carrollton and Dad took the family to Greenbriar about once every two weeks or so. We would park near Piccadilly (and we always ate there). At Christmas the fountain would be covered with some moving holiday characters/carolers. We would then stroll the mall to Rich's and shop and look at stuff. There was also a MUSE's (very high end menswear), a
    ZACHARY's (same as Muse's), REGENSTEINS for women (and I think they had a hair salon in that store as well. My first exposure to pizza was at Orange Julius, and can recall going to the theatre there to see JUNGLE BOOK. Great times.

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  39. Chick fila was founded in Hapeville, not Riverdale

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  40. These posts brought back so many memories. As for the original theater, it actually had a balcony.

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