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The inside of a brochure about York County's former North Mall describes it as "the first completely carpeted, enclosed shopping center in the East!"

Remembering the North Mall’s 1969 opening

I’m diving far back in my mail today to a letter from several years ago (!) from Betty Hoffman Leckrone of Manchester Township.

Betty wrote, “I enjoy your column… it brings back many happy memories as I’ve lived in York all my life. One of your regular writers, Yvonne Reese Leiphart, and I graduated together from York High.”

Her letter was short but contained “gold” from a historian’s standpoint, on a topic we’ve discussed a good deal in the past – the former North Mall, which sat along Route 30 where The Crossroads shopping center, home to Old Navy, Friendly’s and more, is today.

Betty said, “Just recently I found the folder from 1969 when the North Mall opened and enjoyed the list of occupants, as I shopped there. The only jewelry store at that time seems to be Shaffner’s. It was a beautiful mall and I remember it was carpeted and people would drop their cigarettes and step on them, leaving marks on the carpet. The metal sculpture in the center was very unusual, and was commented on quite often. Thought you would enjoy seeing the list of stores when the mall opened.”

Betty kindly provided me a full photocopy of the brochure, and I am excited to share some of the material from it with you.

Inside the brochure

The main leaf of the brochure includes the large aerial view of the mall you see at the top of today’s column and the following text:

North Mall… The first completely carpeted, enclosed shopping center in the East!

NORTH MALL has everything for the most demanding shopper! You will walk through plushly carpeted malls to shop in over 40 stores and services including department and variety stores, fine specialty shops and boutiques. You will appreciate new, strikingly beautiful and unusual art forms… from the colorful “kaleidoscop” – the abstract, 3-dimensional mural in the handsome Fountain Court – to the kinetic sculpture on the Main Mall. You will enjoy the temperature-conrolled springtime shopping climate throughout the year. You will park free on a huge parking lot that can accommodate more than 2,000 cars. Every detail at North Mall has been planned for your pleasure, comfort and convenience… making North Mall the meeting place.

The next inside section, pictured above, includes the following:

The entrances to North Mall are just a few steps away from the huge parking area. This entrance faces Loucks Road and leads to the upper level of York’s newest, finest split-level shopping center.

North Mall offers a truly glamorous and lavish atmosphere for shopping… from the deep carpet underfoot… to the beautiful, softly-cushioned, specially designed ottomans… and the dramatic Pennsylvania Dutch hex signs overhead. Shopping at North Mall is a truly rewarding experience!

The striking kinetic sculpture of metal rods is a living, modern art form in action… a great sheaf of beauty, complementing in sight and sound the “white rose” motif used throughout North Mall.

The 1969 North Mall brochure’s cover and main fold-out image is described this way inside: An overall view of the spectacular Fountain Court. The “kaleidoscop,” a 2-level-high, 3-dimensional, abstract mural created especially for North Mall, covers the east wall. A breathtakingly dramatic effect is created as the waters of the fountain dance and bubble in a myriad of rainbow colors. The skylighted ceiling floods the entire court with light. An escalator, elevator, stairway and pyramidal ramp provide easy access between upper and lower levels.

Map and store list

As is the case for the current Crossroads shopping center, the North Mall had an upper side and a lower side. Many will remember the key anchor stores – The Bon-Ton and G.C. Murphy on the upper level, and Pantry Pride and J.M. Fields on the lower. The brochure notes the mall was “developed by Food Fair Properties, Inc. – Better Shopping Facilities for the American Public.” I think many readers will also recall that Food Fair, which was started in Harrisburg in the 1920s, began opening stores under the Pantry Pride brand in the ’60s after buying a grocery store chain whose house brand had that name. They also owned the J.M. Fields brand.

(My sister Linda Smith worked at that Bon-Ton on the upper level, by the way! It later became a Mailman’s.)

Other stores on the upper level at the mall’s opening, in addition to The Bon-Ton and G.C. Murphy, as described in the brochure:

  • Anticipation Maternity Shops
  • Castle Bootery (children’s shoes)
  • DeVono’s Men’s Wear
  • The Fabric Tree
  • Feller’s (family fashions)
  • Forrest-Hall Shops (gifts)
  • Fox & Willams Shoes (better family shoes)
  • Hanover Shoe Store (men’s and boys’ shoes)
  • Kinney Shoes (shoes for the family) – marked as “coming soon” in the opening brochure
  • Bresler’s 33 Flavors Shop (ice cream) – marked as “coming soon” in the opening brochure
  • Marianne (women’s fashions)
  • The New Deli (restaurant)
  • Orange Julius (refreshments)
  • Parklane Hosiery
  • Shaffners (jewelers and complete bridal service) – marked as “coming soon” in the opening brochure
  • Slak-Rack (male apparel)
  • Thrift Drug Store
  • Tobaccoland
  • Wiest’s (fashions for everyone)

Other stores on the lower level at the time, in addition to Pantry Pride/J.M. Fields:

  • Beneficial Finance Co.
  • State Liquor Store – marked as “coming soon” in the opening brochure
  • Regis Beauty Salon

Outbuildings:

  • Gino’s (restaurant)
  • JMF Auto Center

Previous columns about the North Mall (and its successors)

Have questions or memories to share? Email me at joan@joanconcilio.com or write to Ask Joan, York Daily Record/Sunday News, 1891 Loucks Road, York PA 17408. We cannot accept any phone calls with questions or information.

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