06 April 2024

Central Park Mall, San Antonio, TX

 A dead mall

Central Park Mall Mallmanac ca. 1968.  View the full PDF version here.

My first time visiting San Antonio in the late nineties, during the days just before Christmas, included seeing the cheery lights at the Riverwalk, a tour of the cool aircraft at Kelly Air Force Base and, of course, shopping.  Naturally, one of our destinations was the highly trafficked and successful North Star Mall with their big ole boots.  But just before turning into their chaotic parking lot, I noticed something just across San Pedro Avenue that completely stole my attention.

The parking surrounding the monolith saw much less activity.  On the far end of the structure, highlighted by rows of sixties style arched columns on the exterior, was a mid-rise building dressed in the international style once popular in a bygone area.  We never turned toward this nameless entity at the time, but after fighting North Star’s crowds and being blinded by their gaudy neon, I really would have much rather gone to its neglected sister across the street.

I found out later that this fascinating remnant of past retail was the Central Park Mall, which opened a few years after the originally open air North Star in 1968 as San Antonio’s first fully enclosed mall.  Sears and Dillard’s served as the two anchors in the barbell shaped, bi-level retail facility and were joined by about 100 smaller shops.  Innovations found in the early shopping center included a water fountain in center court representing the four seasons as well as a Venetian carousel.

Central Park Mall saw much success through the nineties until its neighbor to the east embarked on a large expansion that added new anchors and even a second level, while Central Park never really changed.  The interior concourse was shuttered in the early aughts, with the balance of the structure not including Sears demolished just a few years later.  Sears finally closed their store in 2018 and the building was demolished as well, leaving no trace of Central Park Mall at what is now called Park North.

201 Central Park pamphlet ca. 1968.  View the full PDF version here.

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