Eastland Center was designed by architect Albert C. Martin and opened in 1957 as an outdoor mall along the San Bernardino Freeway. (U.S. Route 60 and U.S. Route 99, later Interstate 10). It opened with a 5-level MAY COMPANY on the east end of the mall, and 2-Level W. T. GRANT on the west end. This mall was unique at the time, as it had a regular mall on the upper level, and a strip center on the lower level facing the freeway. The Huddle restaurant chain had a location in the parking area where a TGIFridays now stands. An outparcel structure, known as the Avenue Shops, was located in the northwest parking area and included a Hiram's Supermarket.
Special thanks for those who contributed to this this blog and video goes out to Dean Cheng, J. David Rogers, Jim Harris, Richard Pepe, Charles Phoenix, Los Angeles Public Library, Shorpy.com, Susan Peregoy, Gary Cliser, Arturo Salazar, J. Scott Shannon, West Covina Public Library, Greg Herbert, Randall Smith, Covina Argus Citizen, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Herald Examiner for the following photographs display on this blog. If anyone comes across any vintage photographs or color slides and would like to contribute to this site, please EMAIL us.
L/R, David May, V.P. and dir. of May dept. of stores; Tom May, executive v.p. of May Co,; Joseph K. Eichenbaum, developer of project; Walter J. Brunmark, v.p. and gen. mgr. of May Co., L.A.; and Albert Rosenberg, gen. merchandising director of May Co., L.A.(foreground, bending over table) look at model of project.
1957 - Opening of San Bernardino Freeway (US-60-70-99) near Barranca Street, facing west towards Citrus St in Covina, while construction proceeds at Eastland Shopping Center in background. Barranca St overcrossing structure still under construction in lower right corner.
Hello there Shoppers! I LOVE this slide! Leaning on their 1956 Buick, daddy sports his cool sunglasses and junior sports a sailor hat.
Some of my earliest childhood memories are of going to The Eastland Shopping Center in West Covina. I fondly remember as a four-year old taking the trip from home in Ontario sitting on the fold-down armrest in the backseat of my grandparents pink ‘58 Cadillac Sedan de Ville. I loved that car -of course- it had big tailfins. Eastland was amazing. When we were there I thought we were rich. Our first stop was always the May Company where it seems my grandma always bought a girdle. That was embarrassing.
Then we would have lunch at the ultramodern Clifton’s Cafeteria. I don’t remember what I ate but I do recall washing it down with the reddest fruit punch ever, while being serenaded by a live organist playing the pop standards of the day.
Built in 1957, bordering a newly completed stretch of the San Bernardino Freeway, Eastland was the first shopping center in Southern California to be freeway friendly. The spectacular stained-glass sign tower was visible from miles away. Like the Lakewood Center, there were no loading docks for any of the stores at ground level. A half-mile-long tunnel connected the basements of the stores to keep delivery trucks out of sight –how civilized is that? Speaking of civil these tunnels were also marked Civil Defense fallout shelters. They each had enough room to hold thousands in the event of a nuclear attack.
Shopping Centers came of age in the 1950s. Deluxe retail developments such as Lakewood Center, Fashion Square in Santa Ana and Eastland in West Covina had the designer touch. Specialty stores lined stylish outdoor promenades and courtyards, separated from the vast parking lots. These shopping havens were landscaped with tropical greenery in raised planters with built-in seating areas. Fountains, modern garden art and piped in Muzak, completed the utopian effect. These new suburban shopping centers quickly replaced Southern California’s vintage Main Street shopping districts and reinvented retail merchandising.
The Eastland Shopping Center still stands. None of the original stores remain. In the early 90’s the facade was completely redone in a brightly colored post modern look – if you can call it that, and the May Company was demolished and replaced by Target.
GOD BLESS AMERICANA and EASTLANDANA