Dixie Square Mall
Urban explorers embraced America's now demolished first suburban mall, south of Chicago.
Update: Demolished in 2014 the mall is now completely gone.
Said to be the first suburban mall in the United States, Dixie Square has been abandoned for more than thirty years. Left in the 1980s, the mall has been abandoned more than twice as long as it was in operation.
Built in 1965 at a cost of $25 million on the site of a former golf course, Dixie Square celebrated its grand opening with 50 stores. The two anchor stores, JCPenney and Montgomery Ward, were considered incredibly forward-thinking at the time, complete with psychedelic wallpaper.
Throughout the 1970s, several of the major stores in the mall - and then even the mall itself - underwent serious renovation projects in an effort to keep attendance up. But all of these efforts just delayed the inevitable. With increasing crime in the surrounding town of Harvey, people stopped coming to Dixie Square and shops started to close up.
After it closed, plans were in place to demolish the building in the late 1970s until it was decided that the mall would serve as a filming location for the “Blues Brothers” movie. A portion of the squad car chase scene was shot on the site. Over the decades, only a few sections of the mall have been demolished, in part because the town of Harvey, which owned most of the property, didn’t have the funds to finish the demolition.
Trees grow through the caved-in ceiling, a smooth sheet of ice covers the floor in winter, and water drips into shallow pools crisscrossed by brilliant shafts of light.
Over the years, Dixie Square has gained a large Internet following because of its adoption as a must-see site for urban exploration enthusiasts in the Midwest. While the site is usually abandoned, it’s not safe to visit as large sections of the second floor collapse into the first floor with some frequency.
In September 2010, Governor of Illinois Pat Quinn announced that the rest of the building would be demolished in November at a cost of around $5 million. A federal grant will cover $4 million of the demolition costs with the rest of the money coming from leftover disaster recovery funds after a flooding in 2008. The demolition is expected to take somewhere between four and six months.
Know Before You Go
Located at the junction of 151st St. and the Dixie Highway.
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