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The once great Eagle Rock Plaza fades over the decades

EAGLE ROCK — The enthusiastic rise and gradual decline of Eagle Rock Plaza gets an overview in the L.A. Times.

Eric Warren, president of Eagle Rock Valley Historical Society, told the Times that Eagle Rock Plaza has become outdated – with a two-level parking garage that separates the mall from foot traffic by almost half a block.

But when the mall opened on Oct. 1, 1973, it was something special – the first mall in Northeast L.A.-Glendale area, the Times said.  Here’s what the 55-store mall, anchored by a Montgomery Ward and a May Co. – was like during its heyday:

“Shoppers could eat breakfast at Howard Johnson’s, browse Waldenbooks, the Wherehouse, Chess King, Contempo Casuals and See’s Candies, order lunch at Bob’s Big Boy or indulge in ice cream at Baskin-Robbins. At one point, you could see a movie at one of four 290-seat Lippert Theaters movie houses, dubbed Eagle Rock Cinema.”

Unfortunately, four years after opening, the mall became connected to the Hillside Stranglers killings when two of the victims were followed by the murderers after boarding a bus at the mall. (Different accounts say the young girls had been shopping at the plaza before boarding the bus)

Though that incident may have slammed the mall’s (and Eagle Rock’s) reputation, the real challenge lay with competition that cropped up over the years, including The Glendale Galleria,  Burbank Town Center and the Americana at Brand. Though the mall has positioned attracted a Target and several retailers that cater to Filipinos, the center looks dated and small compared to its rivals.

“What do you do with a massive piece of infrastructure that is no longer fashionable or functional?” Warren asked the Times.

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33 comments

  1. This article about the ER Plaza is a piece of trash. There were too many good times at that place for those murderers to take away from in the 80s through the 90s. The bad element of this piece of garbage article is Glendale baggage. Hand made tortillas at Casa Escobar and and Super Mario Bros at Cable Car Pizza, Forever!

    • I agree! Oh, those hand-made tortillas!!! I bought my Gunne Sax prom dress from Foxmoor Casuals in 1977. I LOVED that store! I have such great memories trolling the mall with my high school friends and also seeing movies there. My now-husband’s and my first date was seeing some slasher movie there in the early 80’s. I remember the seats were very comfy and rocked. Right at the climax of the movie, some lady behind us yelled out “IS SHE GONNA DIE??” Which we still shout out, apropos of nothing in particular, at random times in my household. Good times….

    • Every one with a memory, drop a post!

      After walking around the Plaza for most of the day, my buddy Michael and I would to the Montgomery Wards sofa section, where we would find the most comfy unit to take sit on and even taking a nap. The sales man didnt say a word.

      And how about that old elevator just outside the entrance to the right side facing in? I heard horror stories of patrons getting stuck in that tiny thing lol.

      • sorry I cant spell on phone*

      • Orange Julius and that evil looking door in the back, a Head Shop where they sold incense and concert poster, Casa Escobar with the best cheese enchiladas ever. Statue of Big Bob himself with kids climbing all over him. A crazy Irish restaurant my parents used to take us to at May Co bottom level. The Theater was the best – saw a bunch of 70’s movies there. It was a step up from Fig shopping scene (Ivers, Peoples, etc) and the only place to go and be seen until the Glendale Galleria opened, then that was the place to go. The decline of ER Plaza started shortly after that. Target is the only magnet for people going there now, so that needs to be taken advantage of. No one patronizes brick and mortal stores anymore (all online shopping now), so put something useful – medical offices, more restaurants and may be some specialty shops and markets. It will never see its heyday, but it could still be of use to the community.

        • HaHa – I said “brick and *mortal* stores”, I meant brick and “mortar” stores. An apt Freudian slip I guess.

        • Good one! The Irish restaurant was called “Gilhoolies” I believe. Never had their food but I did use their toilet all the time. I would spend hours in Walden Books to read the “Truly Tasteless Books” series. Carl’s Toys was a chill hang out if they opened up their Nintendo to sample games. One time I met the girl who played Punky Brewster and I had the biggest crush on a girl name Cielo who was a teenager working at the T-Shirts Plus.

  2. I’d like to see the parking lot ripped out and replaced with a park and first rate BRT station. The parking lot is awful. However, the main implication of this article seems to be that the mall has declined because shops that once catered to Anglos were replaced by shops that cater to Pinoys. Personally, a mall with a bunch of international corporate chains has no more obvious appeal than any other mall with those same boring shops. A mall with a bunch of Filipino shops and a market seems a lot more interesting, frankly.

  3. Maybe the Eastsider should do a store about why/how Eagle Rock became a magnet for Filipinos!

    • Good idea!

    • Honestly…I was born and raised in eagle rock. Eagle rock has always been full of Filipinos for as long as I could remember. The community is diverse with a lot of different races. I don’t know how long you’ve been here…but if you’ve been here long enough you’d know that Filipinos didn’t just start coming to eagle rock.

  4. If I have to go to Target, I usually pick this one because the Galleria parking lot is so bad. So, it’s not all bad.

    • I agree with Echo Park. It’s quite easy to find parking at the Eagle Rock Target. The only thing is, just hope there isn’t a big earthquake while you are there because that parking structure is totally sketch!

  5. I saw Star Wars their in the 70’s…like 5 times. And fell asleep during a late night screening of David Lynch’s “Dune” in the early 80’s.. Which is still a boring movie. Now I just buy 12 packs of toilet paper from Target their. Could defintelty use a revamp.

  6. Much of the parking is now taken up with a local car dealership storing “Inventory” there.

    We shop at the target, but the Macy’s is pretty bad and the rest of the mall is tired.

  7. The problem is with developer/owner of the mall. They need to UPDATE the mall and attract stores that cater to different demographics, not just Filipinos.

  8. Any word on the Fitness 19 that was reported to be moving in here?

  9. My brother & I saw Beat Street at the Theatre in the early 80s. All the poppers & breakers from the area where there for the movie. Many a times there would be break dance battles behind May Co. The 80s had so much foot traffic and great memories. T-shirt plus where the breakers would get their hats and T-shirts and have their street dance names put on them. I gotta say those memories are some of the best growing up in Northeast L.A.

  10. Yes- I believe the ER Plaza should be updated! More diversity in food and yes would be nice if the movie theater would come back. Target parking there is better than the Glendale Galleria.

  11. The plaza is great how it is. Perfect for my target shopping. No crowds and plenty of parking.

  12. Nothing was better than our 1st jobs early 1980s at Pacific Theatres 4plex in that mall. Other memories was Howard Johnsons Bobs Big Boy and learning to drive in that double decker parking lot

  13. – From 1982 to 83, ET-The Extra Terrestrial played at the Pacific Theaters there; for half a year, it was on 2 of the 4 screens. Little Folk Shop had kids clothes and an awesome 2-story slide with observations bubbles. Bravo on great eateries like Casa Escobar and those awesome nachos , Cookie Express, the long rope licorice from Morrow Nut House as well as Howard Johnson. Who could forget the cowboy and biker store Black Sheep and its leather aroma? Back in the day, Wards had a music store, hair salon, snack bar, candy shop, pet dept. and garden dept. May Co sold appliances, had a candy dept, hair salon, Gilhooley’s Irish Restaurant and music as well.
    – Other classic stores not mentioned in the article included: Casual Corner, Sally’s Fabrics, Hartfield’s (later Petries), Fashion Conspiracy, Tops & Trousers, JW (Jeans West), Miller’s Outpost, Le Kid Stride Rite, Florsheim Shoes, Kirk Jewelers, Size 5-7-9, Susie’s Casuals, Chess King, Toy World (later KayBee Toys), Leeds Shoes, Eagleson’s Big & Tall, Swiss Colony, Glendale Music Co., Oshman’s Sporting Goods, Pigeon’s, Showoffs, Essex Shop for Men, Gene’s, Foot Locker and Spencer Gifts (with the awesome jet black disco room at the back). The 80’s gave us Woolworth Express, Cindy’s Cinnamon Rolls and Mrs. Fields. Good Times!!!

    • Good times! Man I miss that Miller’s Outpost.

    • Glendale Music Co-was that the rare 45 & LP shop on the bottom floor next to the entrance of the mall? Went out of business in ’81 I think. Used to love finding stuff there despite the gruff owner.

  14. The fact that the Americana and Glendale Galleria are just right down the road is most likely the main problem for this mall. It’s so much easier to just drive there and get access to a newer mall with more amenities and newer stores.

    Store owners probably don’t need a duplicate footprint in such a small area, so the choice for them is easy – Glendale Galleria.

    While the Filipino market smell isn’t the best, I’m not sure it’s the reason that the mall has gone downhill. It’s that there’s newer competition so close by. That supermarket is just filling a space that may otherwise be empty.

  15. I wouldn’t mind a little revamp but LONG LIVE EAGLE ROCK PLAZA!

  16. Memories are great but this is now. The mall and parking structure neeed a total update. The Macy’s is a dump especially. Need some new ideas for this area.

  17. Does anyone remember the store Black Sheep at the Plaza during the 70’s and 80’s? It was the Hot Topic of the time. I remember buying hard rock stickers, patches, and t-shirts to use for school!

  18. Thanks, Josh, I was trying to remember the name of the fabric store I’d visit usually once a week (Sally’s Fabrics-I loved that place). When I needed to leave my car with the mechanic (on Colorado across from TJ’s) I’d catch the DASH bus to the Plaza and watch a movie or two. May company for their sales, Wards sometimes for their sales. Tires for the car across the street at their auto center (now a SDA physiotherapy place).
    There’s a website full of great information on foodstuffs; I use them to look up sausages (get the lowdown on what Super King has on sale) and fish. The fish section is awesome and the host says he buys his fresh fish from the ERP market. I go to 99 Ranch and other Asian markets so usually some odors don’t bother he but since I shop mainly for Chinese/Japanese/Thai (in that order) foodstuffs I haven’t had reason to shop there. A friend stopped in (after a visit to the physic) and said ‘not a lot of what you usually buy’.
    What does interest me is the massage place. I’d want the upper body one, where you sit on a special char, leaning forward, read some good reviews on that.
    And yes, the Target is easy-in, easy-out although the one in Pasadena (two level, their own parking structure) would be the choice if I wanted something in that area.
    Speaking of the Galleria, places I used to shop there that have also gone out of business…. and when the Indian restaurant on the street that closed when a big chain wanted the space, that really reduced my reasons for going there.

    When it was said Target was taking over the old Fresh n’ Easy on ER Blvd I said I thought they’d close the ERP store..(I was wrong) and suggested the place be torn down and turned into low to middle income housing with retail stores on first level. Below ground parking, community friendly park above. I’d like to see the DASH bus have a turn-around right next to the/a building so it’s not a hike from the current bus stops. Sound walls on the west end of the property (along with plantings) to reduce the noise and pollution from the SR-2. “Freeway close” isn’t quite the mantra is used to be.
    I, too, do a lot of my buying online but if I have the option to not pay shipping but pick it up at a local store, I’ll go for that, definitely (as I have done with Wards (Glendale), Home Depot (they sell so much that has to be ordered). I grew up in a small town and it was a big deal with first Wards and then Sears opened up catalog stores!
    Like the song, ‘Everything old is new again’.

  19. Remember spencer’s gifts??? I haven’t been back in forever, do they still have those fountains with the colors?

  20. I remember buying my first legit skateboard here at a toy shop close to the end of the mall by may co. it was a Kryptonics Miche Alba KB2 that I used all of my birthday money to buy…..i rode that thing all the way through high school and regret ever selling it. I also bought a Led Zeppelin Houses of the holy concert shirt at the Black Sheep right next to Casa Escobar. I saw Valley Girl at the theater and animal house. I bought my first home stereo pioneer 6 disc, dual cassette am/fm tuner at Montgomery wards on the easy no finance for 6 months deal and they beat circuit city’s price for the best deal and it still is works and we use it in the garage when we tinker around in there. I would take my girlfriend then now my wife to cable car pizza or bobs big boy. I loved riding the escalators and hearing the water fall. I also bought custom t-shirts at T-shirts plus! I’d get baseball tee and have them iron on cool bands like the pretenders, The Police, The Clash, coold cartoons or just velvet numbers with my name on it…slick  This place still gives me lots of great memories although it has changed a lot I like going there just to tell my kids about how I would hang out there….skate, eat and chill….

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