This mall was prominently featured in the 1980 feature film
"The Blues Brothers". The mall was already closed for a year when
producers rented it out, renovated the interior display, and drove cop
cars through it.
Travis Bell from www.BluesBrothersCentral.com recently took his
1974 Dodge Monaco (the same make and model used in the film) on a
re-enactment of Jake & Elwood's ride through Dixie Mall. The video is
available on the site. Excellent editing by Travis inter-cuts his footage
with scenes from the actual movie that provide for an entertaining
short to watch.
Click link below and then click link that says "Big Mall Video"
Return to Dixie
- link to Paul McVay's site, a comprehensive and likely spectacular documentary on the history
of Dixie Square. Tons of pictures and information on this site!
Ross Schendel's Commentary:
Posted August 14, 2001 (user submitted)
Living just north of the Chicagoland metro area, I had no idea Dixie Square
Mall in Harvey, IL existed until Pete tipped me off. I even have friends in
Chicagoland and they had no idea it existed. The reason is thus:
The 800,000 square-foot mall was shuttered in September, 1979. It has
been left standing since. Abandoned.
With this new knowledge, I set out to find the mall.
Because of circumstances beyond my control, my first visit was fruitless.
It was already dusk when I arrived at the mall, and almost immediately
after entering the parking lot two squads boxed me in and
interrogated me as to my actions. I calmly and politely told them I was
working on a website devoted to the decline of retail ventures in
suburbia, et al., and they bought it without a hitch but told me to
leave immediately. Upon further investigation I noticed that the main
Harvey Police Precinct, a newish looking building with approximately a
dozen squads parked out front, was ON the outlot to the mall. In
fact, the Police Precinct uses part of the mall parking lot for their
Less than a week later I had time to go back; this time, during the middle
of the afternoon. I parked my car in a nearby lot with cars in it,
grabbed my camera and walked toward the mall and started taking pictures.
I came to an anchor's loading dock area. Parts of the loading
dock garages were still there, parts were completely smashed out. What
could have caused such damage to those?
I walked around the corner, looking for an entrance, and find one. It is
not boarded up. In fact, someone had bashed in the board-up across
the doors and the board up, as well as the remnants of the doors (with lots
of glass), were strewn all over. I cautiously walked inside the
gaping hole where the doors once were, and to my amazement
there were still labels and decor on the walls from the anchor
(presumably Sears) when it was open in the 1970s. This was like a
living time capsule. "Curtains" and a brand name was written on one
wall, and above all exits was printed "Thank you...Please come again..."
I was ecstatic to have made such a find; I did not expect this much to be
visible after so many years. I would have gone in further, as the
actual mall part was accessible through here (and as I later found out, many
other areas); however, the mold was obnoxious. The mold smell was
so strong it made me dizzy and gave me a strong
headache, so I went out.
I started walking down the outside of the anchor to find more entrances
like this to take more pictures, and I saw them. Dogs. There were two
Dobermans about 100 feet ahead of me in the way that I was walking. They
were walking, also, and had not noticed me. Immediately I turned around
and made a break for my car, which was 50 feet or so away.
The dogs had noticed me running and came quickly, but I was way
too far ahead of them and in my car by the time they were even halfway
so they turned around and went inside the mall. This disappointed me,
because at this point I was not afraid of any people I
would encounter. However, dogs are a different story. They are
completely unpredictable and unreasonable.
After this I took my car around the mall and got out only to take
pictures and go right back in, for fear the dogs may be nearby.
At some points they were, but mostly they did their own thing. Also,
I found out that the gaping holes at that anchor that was presumably Sears
were to be found ALL over the mall. The entire mall was open. Mall
entrances, anchor doors, even service entrances and the boiler area
were all completely open. I walked in some doorways but
only to take pictures and leave. I would have gone i
n further to explore, but it just didn't seem safe.
another turn I found a mall entrance with an anchor on one side.
This anchor had winged pillars/decor and a brown facade, and was
probably Montgomery Ward. At another turn the third anchor to the mall
I am almost 100% positive to be JCPenney. It is typical of some current
still-standing Penney's designs. This is the anchor with the copious
graffiti on the front of the board-up. I'm surprised this board-up
is still there. This was actually and surprisingly the only area
of the mall to have lots of graffitti. Perhaps the proximity of the
Police Precinct keeps the miscreants away.
Also interesting to me was the metallic hooped device seemingly at center
court. It looks like a giant basketball hoop chain sticking up in
the air. It's not easily discernable in the pics. This was also near
the only labelscars on the outside of the mall, which read City Life.
I'm completely unsure what City Life was. It sounds like a dance club,
maybe a disco of some sort. But I am completely at a loss. Maybe someone
reading this can clue me in, or maybe tell me more about the specifics
of this mall when it was open. It was closed almost 2 years
before my birth.||
Another point of intrigue to this mall was the amount of plant
overgrowth. The parking lot is full of weeds that have evolved into
shrubbery and some of them even into full-fledged trees. One
such pine tree was at least 30 feet tall, maybe more. Parts of the
parking lot are so overgrown it is almost impossible driving. Yet,
surprisingly, other parts of the parking lot have original yellow pavement
markings and the like. Parking spaces can be made out quite
clearly. Also, the mall would have been more easily to photograph from
the outside were it not summer. The overgrowth completely covers the
outside of the mall in some areas.
To end this I want to also mention the area this mall is in. This area is in DIRE need of rehabilitation. I am completely blasted that this mall is still standing. Any piece of real-estate in this location, 20 miles from downtown chicago, and within miles of three major interstates, should not be to waste like this! It seems like the community of Harvey has covered the mall up, so to speak. If I hadn't been tipped off by this mall, I would never have found it. Even if I had driven down Dixie Hwy, I would not have noticed the mall. Since the malls shuttering, numerous other buildings have surfaced in the outlots affronting Dixie Hwy, such as the Harvey Police Precinct and another long governmental building. A lot of the outlot buildings are also dead and rotting just like the mall, but the mall is still buried. It is actually quite a ways off Dixie Hwy, and closer to the next parallel road east. The easiest entrance was off 151st Street, just east of Dixie Hwy.
Harvey in and of itself is completely downtrodden. The economic base of this community is as bad if not worse than in Jennings, MO. There seems to be no saving grace here, what with the mass exodus of people for suburbs further out or even back to the city. The inner-ring suburb problem has a poster child in Harvey. The boarded up businesses and houses don't just occur near the mall, they occur everywhere in the city.
If anyone has more information on this mall, or perhaps a link to some info, feel free to E-Mail me about it - I'd be VERY interested. In terms of deadmalls, this one takes the cake. I've heard of and seen malls that have sat abandoned for 5-6 years (see River Roads) but this has been sitting abandoned for 22 years and looks no worse for wear, really.
Click here for more exclusive
Bing Bird's Eye View:
Dixie Square Mall from a satellite in space
User comments (new!!)
(Please be respectful of other users, thanks!
For a permanent essay post, please use this link.)