Santa Monica Mall - Pre 3rd Street 3rd street promenade
What’s changed—and what hasn’t—about Santa Monica’s outdoor mall by Alison Martino
This modernist outdoor space was once home to Sears and Woolworth’s ($11.98 for a pair of Wallaby’s!) plus dozens o mom-and-pop shops, which made it unique. The list of smaller businesses included Kress’, Lerners, Hartman’s, Bartons Candy Store, Leeds", The Smuggler, The Silver Cup Diner, Nana’s, Texas Records, the Music Box, Apollo Electronics, Out of The Past, Muskrat, The Midnight Bookstore, Bay Music (which sold musical instruments) and Ralph’s market, which later became “Europa,” where my mother purchased the most beautiful lace curtains.
When I became older, it was all about the "3 2 1 Club". Good times! (Still trying to hunt down a photo).
"Chuck's Bike O Rama" and the Magic Shop from the film
Some of you also might remember seeing this record store in "Pretty In Pink". John Cryer did his best impersonation of Otis Redding here on location at "The Music Box" in 1984.
Photo Julie Wilson
Photo Julie Wilson
Some of the stores still occupied Art Deco structures from back in the day such as the "J.C. Penny" department store (right), now a "Banana Republic" store.
During the ’80s the mall fell on hard times and rapidly became a row of struggling shops and vacant storefronts, something the popularity of Westwood Village may have had something to do with. But since the mall’s massive make over late in that decade, it’s completely turned around. Today as many as 15,000 visitors squeeze every weekend into each block of the narrow strip that stretches from Broadway to Wilshire. Meanwhile, Westwood Village is in need of a comeback itself. (That would be a magical, since most of the original structures are still there.)
Why am I writing about Third Street Promenade now? Because the outdoor mall has such a dear place in my heart. My favorite childhood treat was an Orange Julius and a burger from Magoos. My mother took me to this J.C. Penny for my back-to-school shopping at Thom McAnn for shoes and Contempo Casuals for the latest trends. When I became older, I was all about the 3 2 1 Club. It’s the end of summer now, and that makes me miss those good old—very fashionable, if I don’t say so myself—days.
Photo Collection - Los Angeles Public Library - 1979
Here's a photo going back to Santa Monica in 1949! During the 1940s and '50's cars could actually drive through. The Criterion Theater is still there today. Last time I checked it was an AMC...
And this one goes WAY back... This is Third Street at Oregon Avenue in 1880, now it is the current home of Third Street Promenade
Alison Martino is a writer, television producer, columnist for Los Angeles Magazine, personality, and pop culture historian. She founded the Facebook page Vintage Los Angeles in 2010. Martino also muses on L.A’s. past and present on Twitter and Instagram