Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Eastwood Mall of Birmingham, AL

Long before Gadsden got her own shopping mall - people would drive down to Birmingham to the Eastwood Mall. Click on the link to go to a website with lots of images. Gadsden residents (67 miles north of B'ham) began regular trips down to Birmingham to shop. Built in 1960 adjacent to the Starlite Drive-In was touted as the South's largest mall. It was larger than any mall that was in Atlanta, GA. Newman H. Waters, who owned a chain of drive-ins including the Starlite, was the developer and owner of the Eastwood Mall venture.

One of my earliest ventures to Eastwood Mall was with my parents back in 1969. It was an odd coincidence that the Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin's movie Paint Your Wagon opened that week I went there. My 10 year old mind was wondering if it were Clint Eastwood's mall. As part of the theater's campaign, they had a wagon with Paint Your Wagon painted on the covering of the wagon. We didn't go to the movie, but I remember a lot of people there.
In the mid-seventies - the theater premiered STAY HUNGRY which was filmed in Birmingham and co-starred Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnold was present for the show's opening but he went pretty much unrecognized by the movie goers.

The mall brought all kinds of businesses along that long strip of US 78. If you were going to spend the day down in Birmingham, chance were you'd be heading down toward Eastgate. Malls are everywhere now - but Eastwood Mall was my first mall experience. It was pretty mega for it's day. The mega-malls that came along later dwarf the old Eastwood, but Eastwood was THE PLACE to shop for many years Any time I passed the place over the past few decades, I would think of it's former glory. It had seen it's better day and was leveled a few years ago. I ran across the site I linked to and brought back some old memories.
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