That’s how the local newspaper — The Press-Enterprise — described the city’s new retail mecca 40 years ago in an October 11, 1970 special section highlighting the mall’s grand opening.
At over 800,000 sq. ft., the indoor Tyler Mall (now Galleria at Tyler) was nearly double the size of the city’s other major shopping center, the outdoor Riverside Plaza, which opened as the Inland area’s first regional shopping center in 1956/57. The new mall’s developer and general contractor was Ernest W. Hahn of Los Angeles. The architect was Jon Jerde of Burke, Kober, Nicolais and Archuleta, A.I.A., Los Angeles.
Joining anchors The Broadway* and JCPenney** were more than 80 stores stretched along a 1,000 foot-long, single-level corridor. Among them was a two-level, 61,000 sq. ft. Woolworth’s with attached Harvest House restaurant. Parking for 5,000 cars surrounded the mall. The opening of the third major anchor, May Co.,*** was delayed until July 1973.
Some of the mall’s initial tenants included standard national and regional chains of the time: Kinney Shoes, See’s Candies, Singer Sewing Co., Weisfield’s Jewelers, Swiss Colony, Fashion Conspiracy, Thom McAnn Shoes, The Show-Off, Ardens and Gallenkamp Shoes. Also present were a few smaller chains and local shops, including Tinder Box (which remains today), Jeanne’s, Kirk Jewelers and Cheney’s Music (which relocated from downtown Riverside where it had been since 1944).
The mall also included several outparcel pads, including JCP and Broadway tire centers, a gas station, Howard Johnson’s Restaurant, United California Bank (currently Wells Fargo), Anaheim Savings, and United Artists Theaters, which originally opened as a twin theater before quickly doubling to four. It stood where Barnes & Noble is today.
Many of the original stores and chains have long since been replaced. Probably the most missed tenant of all, however, is Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour, which faced Magnolia Avenue near where Yard House stands today. (Ordering “the Zoo” at Farrell’s was standard practice during kids’ birthday parties in the 1970s and early 1980s.)
In May 1990, work began on a major expansion that included a fourth department store (Nordstrom), second level of shops and two parking garages. When the grand reopening took place on October 17, 1991, the mall had a new name — Galleria at Tyler. At the time, plans had been approved for up to two more department stores (for a total of six***), but the 1993 merger of J.W. Robinson’s with May Co. — forming Robinson’s-May — scuttled at least one of those. Subsequent mergers has seen Macy’s replace both The Broadway (in 1996) and Robinson’s-May (in 2006), the latter resulting in the vacancy of the former Broadway building.
Today, the Galleria at Tyler sports over 170 stores and 1.2 million leaseable space. Modest outparcel expansions took place in 2001 (Barnes & Noble) and 2006/2007 (AMC Theaters, Yard House, Cheesecake Factory, PF Chang’s, Elephant Bar and Robbins Bros.). In 2008, the center’s large, freeway-visible sign was replaced. It had last been updated in 1991, which was a replacement for the original 1970 version*). The sign was updated again in 2010 with the addition of the center’s major anchors.
A more in-depth look at the mall and how it came about can be found here: Then & Now – Galleria at Tyler
- RaincrossSquare.com – Then & Now – Galleria at Tyler: Part One (Aug. 2007) | Then & Now – Galleria at Tyler: Part Two (Aug. 2007) | ‘North Village’ opens at Galleria (Dec. 2007) | Postcard: Harvest House at the Tyler Mall (April 2010)
Images courtesy of: * Donahue-Schriber, ** Riverside Public Library, *** Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce
Sources: The Press-Enterprise, Riverside Public Library, Donahue-Schriber, General Growth Properties, Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce