York Mall; Remembering the Early Years
The first fully enclosed shopping mall in York County opened in the Fall of 1968. Today its location is notably marked by a Wal-Mart Supercenter along East Market Street in Springettsbury Township. When ground was broken on January 31st 1967, this shopping hub was initially called the Lincoln Mall; however the name was changed to York Mall by the grand opening on October 3rd 1968.
The mall contained four fountains; the most notable was the Jumping Fish Fountain within the northern mall entrance to Hochschild Kohn, a large Baltimore-based, two-story department store in the center of the mall. In fact a walk through Hochschild Kohn was required to stroll the whole mall connecting the large end anchors; Montgomery Ward at the north end and J.C. Penney at the south end, along East Market Street.
A community room was located at the top of an elaborate staircase that overhung the Jumping Fish Fountain. This photo was taken, while standing at the mall entrance to the William Tally House, a very popular cafeteria-style restaurant.
Please contact me if you have better quality photo of the York Mall sign along East Market Street. This photo can be dated to the Spring of 1969. I remember taking a date to see “Where Eagles Dare” at the York Mall movie theater during Spring Break of my freshman year at Penn State. One can barely read at the bottom of the sign, “Trans-Lux Theater, Now Showing, Clint Eastwood, Where Eagles Dare;” the classic World War II action film, shot in the Bavarian Alps and also staring Richard Burton and Mary Ure. York newspaper ads note “Where Eagles Dare” opened at this theater on March 26th 1969.
The Trans-Lux started out as a magnificent 820-seat movie theater with a fabulous sound system. It was located in the north end of the mall; next to Montgomery Ward. In 1975 a wall was installed down the middle of the theater to create twin theaters; I believe they called them the Trans-Lux Gold and the Trans-Lux Blue. The end result was long narrow theaters with screens half the size of the original screen and mediocre sound systems.
Besides the mall complex, three stand-alone buildings were initially on the mall property. The Northern Way and East Market Street corner contained an A & P Food Store. This building now houses Party City and Chunk E Cheese’s, with Panera Bread anchoring an addition to the former grocery store.
Montgomery Ward and Penney’s had Auto Service Centers adjacent to their stores. The Montgomery Ward Auto Center was demolished when the Sam’s Warehouse Club was built. The Penney’s Auto Center eventually became a Firestone Auto Center and then lastly a Blockbuster Video before being demolished recently with the construction of a Chick-fil-A.
I’ve marked up a 1971 aerial photo to indicate where the major stores were located in the York Mall. I’ve used a side-by-side comparison with a 2014 aerial photo to show where the original footprint of the York Mall was located in relationship to present businesses.
Besides the three anchor stores, McCrory’s was, by far, the next largest store in the York Mall. It was considered the showcase store in the McCrory’s chain. The store was in close proximity to the McCrory’s Distribution Center, located directly next door; in fact they had a ramp that essentially went from the back door of their store, right up into the distribution center.
Banks were conveniently located next to the two main mall entrances from the 4,200-car parking lot. York Federal Savings & Loan Association was located at the mall entrance next to Ward’s. The York Bank & Trust Company was located at the mall entrance next to Penney’s. M&T Bank, a successor to the York Bank, has the distinction as being the only original mall tenant still on mall property; a stand-along building was constructed when the Wal-Mart in the former Penney’s was expanded into a Supercenter.
Hochschild Kohn vacated the mall in 1975, at which time the Bon-Ton moved in. The Bon-Ton still has a presence, not with a store however their Corporate Offices occupy the second floor over the Burlington Coat Factory.
The symbol of the York Mall was the letters “Y” and “M” repeated in a circular pattern. The symbol is shown in the center of a York Mall Security patch; purchased on e-Bay. One of the reasons often touted for converting enclosed malls to exterior storefronts is the escalating insurance and security cost associated with an enclosed mall.
A 1971 newspaper ad contained an alphabetical listing of the over 60 stores within the York Mall. See how many you remember. If you have stories of the mall or any of these stores, please comment. I’ve already mentioned the major stores: Hochschild Kohn, J. C. Penney, Montgomery Ward, McCrory’s and Bon-Ton arriving at the mall during 1975. I’ve attempted to group the other stores into categories; let me know if I made any errors.
Clothing stores: Adams Clothes, Children of Eng, The Fashion Bug, Gingerich’s, Gregory’s, Jack’s, Kallaway’s, Maternity Mart, National Shirt Shop, Ormond Shop, Parklane Hosiery, Pennyback, The Plum Tree, Rovin’s Corner, Tic Tac Tie, and Tweed Shop.
Shoe stores: Bakers Shoes, Becker’s Jr. Bootery, Cobblers Bench, Father & Sons Shoes, Hanover Shoes, Kinney Shoes, Newswangers Shoes, and Thom McAn Shoes.
Health & Beauty stores: General Nutrition Center, Merle Norman Cosmetics, People’s Drug Company, Regis Beauty Salon and The Barbers.
Food related stores: A & P Food Store, Barricini Candies, Bavarian Soft Pretzels, The Coffee Bin, Fanny Farmer, Purple Cow, William Tally House Cafeteria and Tobacco Village.
Book, Cards, Gifts or Entertainment related stores: Bookland, Can Do Shop, Card Mart, Disc World, Fulton Piano & Organ, Kinderfoto, Spencer Gifts and Trans-Lux Theater.
Jewelry stores: The Jewelbox, Kay Jewelers and Shaffner’s Jewelers.
Home and Sewing stores: Kaufman Carpet, Singer Company, and So-Far Fabrics.
Banks and Financial: Household Finance, York Bank & Trust Company and York Federal Savings & Loan Association.
Automotive stores: Miller’s Auto Supplies, Montgomery Ward Auto Service Center and Penney’s Auto Service Center.
Other stores included: a Docktor Pet Center and a U. S. Post Office substation.
This is from an undated newspaper clipping; it shows another of the four fountains within the York Mall. The most common name for this fountain was Jack’s Fountain, since it was in front of the Jack’s store, at extreme right in clipping. The store at the left side in the clipping is the southern mall entrance to Hochschild Kohn or Bon-Ton.
The remaining two mall fountains were located where the entrance corridors from the parking lot intersected the main mall corridor. All of the fountains featured benches or flat surfaces for shoppers to sit on.
Related posts include:
- Wm Tally House cafeteria at York Mall
- Funderland at York Mall & The Utter Place
- Namesake of Wm Tally House at York Mall
- Bowling Lanes at the York County Shopping Center
- From Bon-Ton Christmas’ Past to Self-Storage
- Naming of Three Mile Run waterway in Springettsbury
- Haines Park transforms into a Trailer Park
There is a scarcity of photos from the early decades of the York Mall. If any of my readers has photos they wish to share, please contact me or post a comment.