Post details: river roads mall

09/26/06

Permalink 08:07:06 pm, Categories: Urban Exploration, 1027 words   English (US)

river roads mall

A few months back, Hiccup and I took a short vacation in the St. Louis area and did a little exploring while we were there. We started out with the abandoned River Roads Mall.

It was early in the night when we got there. We had hoped to have some of our St. Louis friends with us since we'd never been there before, but they hadn't been able to joins us that night. It wasn't a big deal, but I tended to be a little more paranoid about sneaking into new places in large, unfamiliar cities.

One side of the building was torn open by heavy equipment where they were in the process of demolishing it, so we made our way in through there. The two story area we came into had once been a JC Penney, but you wouldn't have known it from looking. Everything had been gutted out, leaving bare concrete colummns and floors. Two lone escalators were the only remaining thing that indicated what the place had been.

We went up to the second floor of the area and had a look around. Either up there or below (I can't remember), we found a stairwell that led us into the basement. From there, we wandered around a bit until we came to another set of escalators going up. They were so covered in debris that I had Hiccup go around to another stairwell while I went up the cluttered escalator.

Up above, we came into an unrecognizable store. There was really nothing left to tell what it might have been, although a department store was a safe bet. But, from there, we were able to head out into the main thoroughfare of the mall.

The place was gutted as well. All the tile had already been pulled up from the floor, and we could see shops all along the way had plastic covering their entrances. The signs posted on some of the plastic said they were doing asbestos removal.

We started at one end of the mall and began making our way to the other end, checking every shop as we went. Usually, the shop still had its sign outside to tell us what it had been, but sometimes they didn't and sometimes we just weren't familiar with the name. Most of the time, though, we could guess from what was left inside the shop, but a few of them, particularly the ones that were in the process of asbestos removal, were so gutted that there was no way to tell what they'd been.

Pretty quickly, we came up on something I'd been looking forward to seeing: the River Roads Bowl. 42 lanes of abandoned bowling alley, just waiting to be checked out. Memory_machine had told us about it on their last trip to the place. We headed down the stairs to check it out.

The bowling alley was in surprisingly good shape, compared to the rest of the mall. There were pins scattered at the ends of the lanes, although they were mostly cracked or broken, as well as the occasional bowling ball. The only thing really missing was the seats in front of the lanes and the pin-setting machines. We spent a while down there checking it out and rolling balls down the lanes, but eventually we went back the way we came.

From there, we continued down the thoroughfare, checking out shops. We found everything from a shoe store, to a jewelry store, to an electronics store, and, of course, several clothing stores. In the middle of the thoroughfare, there was also a large clock, as well as raised concrete area that had once had plants growing in it.

Eventually, we reached the other end of the mall and began checking out the last store. It was large compared to the others with two stories, and it was either a department store or a clothing store. The first floor wasn't in too bad of shape, but the second floor looked considerably worse when we got there. Pieces of the ceiling were dangling from above and there was lots of debris on the floor.

Up there was also where we ran into a big problem. While we were there, I found a window at the back and began looking out of it. I noticed someone walking along the outside of the mall. I was immediately worried, but I thought maybe it was just a rent-a-cop walking patrol or something. As the person got closer, I could tell from the baggy clothes that the person, a guy, was definitely no cop. To make matters worse, I noticed that each time the figure would pass one of the doors to the mall he would walk over to it and attempt to open it.

That was our cue to leave. I had no intention of running into some random homeless person or looter in a dark abandoned mall. It probably wouldn't have amounted to anything, but in the dark they wouldn't be able to tell us from cops or anyone else and I wasn't itching to find out how they'd react.

We had a bit of confusion as we tried to leave, though. Neither of us could remember exactly where we'd come into the main part of the mall. We weren't really even sure which end of the mall we'd come in from, and we were reluctant to look down at the end of the mall where the strange person had been trying for unlocked doors.

Although I don't remember how we ended up finding it, we eventually found our way back into the demolished JC Penney. I took a few quick flash pictures of the area, which I'd been relucant to do as we were going in, and then we rushed out of the area.

Thankfully, no one had fooled with our vehicle. But, as we were leaving, we watched a cop drive over to where we'd had it hidden in the bushes. If we'd waited just a few minutes longer we would've been busted for sure. We were just thankful and made a hasty retreat back to the resort we were staying at.

Comments, Pingbacks:

Comment from: Pablo [Visitor] · http://roundrockjournal.com
I can remember when this was a new mall! I've lived in St. Louis for 20 years, so I don't know what the neighborhood is doing. Any idea why the mall was abandoned?
Permalink 10/01/06 @ 10:43
Comment from: Ed Steed [Visitor] · http://None
In answer to Pablo, I, too, remember River Roads when it was new. I was there opening day and remember when the land was one of the Hart brothers' farms. River Roads closed because, like nearby Northland, it lost business to other centers farther out and because crime increased in the area. My mother quit going there because her hubcaps were stolen while she was shopping at Stix Baer and Fuller. It was the first enclosed mall in the St. Louis area.
Permalink 11/14/06 @ 15:02
Comment from: Carole [Visitor]
I too remember when the land was a dairy farm, as I have lived in the area since the '50's.
The mall is being destroyed (after much discussion about the expense of having the asbestos removed) to make way for single dwelling houses. There is some government money involved to build there and now things have been put on hold due to the money, for some unknown reason, being withheld and the contractor is hesitant to build due to the "bad time for selling houses". NOtice the senior citizen complex is near completion as that has funded with "taxpayer's money"!
Permalink 12/06/06 @ 12:36
Comment from: Danny Plattner [Visitor]
My family owned and operated Plattners Modern Man for over 20 years. We were among the last of the tennants. The mall was sold in the late 1980's to an out of town slum-lord. Many promises were made to upgrade the mall. I no longer live in the St. Louis area, and truly enjoy the storys and recent photos of River Roads. PS, the 2 level store was Woolworths.
Permalink 12/07/06 @ 00:54
Comment from: BILLY BECOS [Visitor]
I HAVE FOND MEMORIES OF RIVER ROADS MALL.I REMEMBER SPENCERS BOWL DOWN IN THE BASEMENT THEY HAD A BOWLING ALLEY AND NUMEROUS POOL TABLES AND ARCADE MACHINES AND MUCH MORE..I REMEMBER HANGING OUT THERE WHILE MOM SHOPPED..IT'S GOING TO BE A SAD DAY ONCE THE WRECKING BALL STARTS SWINGING
Permalink 12/09/06 @ 20:23
Comment from: Tim [Visitor]
I was a manager for Walgreens Grill ay River Roads. A successful operation and a popular place for shoppers to eat. There was friendly competition between Woolwoths and Walgreens, however, they had the best fried chicken on the planet. The Mall employees often met at Spencers and forgot the tensons of the day. I had 5 Walgreen waitresses that I will never forget. It was a good place to work and my first job!
Good Bye River Roads.
Permalink 12/16/06 @ 03:40
Comment from: Josh [Visitor]
The photo with the escalators and the "UP" sign is the basement of what used to be the Woolworth's. I only know this because my late Grandma worked at that Woolworth's until it closed in early 1991. I also remember when my Mom said she was worried about my Grandma working there around the mid-1980's because a neighbor of ours was badly mugged in the parking lot behind JC Penney and what had been Stix/Dillard's (the back parking lot that bordered on Ada Whortley Ave). So sad to see River Roads get the wrecking ball, but someday in years down the road the same thing will happen to places we St. Louisans love now like Chesterfield Mall, West County, and Galleria (which is already starting to get kind of shady as it is).
Permalink 04/14/07 @ 21:50
Comment from: Anna [Visitor]
I grew up in Jennings during the late 60's to mid 70's. Does anyone recall the toy store located near Stix with the elevated train. It almost seems like a dream, but I know others who remember it as well. Does anyone remember the name of the store?
Permalink 11/14/07 @ 10:45
Comment from: Mark [Visitor]
That was actually the toy department of Stix. The tram ride would circle the large room that was used for a toy department then leave the room at two points. One into the mens clothing department and circle back in. The other spot it actually went out a window and into the mall area then back in. The ride was fun for a little guy like I was back then. If it still existed, I don't think my shoe would fit in it today :)

Anyone have any pictures of the old train/tram ride? Or the slide at Northland?
Permalink 11/27/07 @ 16:44
Comment from: Carl Scripter [Visitor] · http://www.scripter.org/
God I was just turning 15 when River Roads opened. There was an asian woman there who would ride you around on her back like she was a pony.

I had a huge crush on her.

Permalink 06/17/08 @ 06:47
Comment from: Terry True [Visitor]
It's a crying shame that this mall and the Mall of Memphis is gone for good due to the crime in the Memphis, TN area and in the Jennings, MO area. Even though I don't live in Jennings it's still tough to live in crime riddled areas in the world. Yours truly Terry True of Millington TN.
Permalink 09/12/08 @ 10:17
Comment from: yolonda Smith [Visitor]
I remember my brother and cousin would catch the Natural Bridge bus every Saturday with a five dollar allowance in the 70's which would go a long way. He would go in the basement at Woolworth and buy a racing car, I would get me something and then we would eat at the Kresse for a hot grill ham and cheese with a chocolate malt everyweek routine. We would spend all day. I will always cherish the memories there. I loved to go around Christmas also to meet Santa!
Permalink 12/01/08 @ 21:32
Comment from: Mark [Visitor]
I too recall all the great things about Riverroads and the elevated train/tram as well. I remember waiting 30 minutes for a three minute ride and looking down on the Styx "toy land" as the monorail, I think that technically it was a monorail, ran above it. I worked at the Thom McCan shoe store as a teenager in the late 70s and saw the mall go into it's decline. If anyone still has pictures of the monorail I would love to see them posted and be able to show them to my kids.
Permalink 12/19/08 @ 22:49
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Permalink 08/01/09 @ 20:33
Comment from: Doug [Visitor]
I was born in Jennings and lived on Halls Ferry Road when River Roads Mall was built. I remember being a little kid and watching the dairy cows before the mall was there. As a teenager I worked at River Roads Mall at Hess & Culbertson Jewelers. My dad lived in the house I was born in on Halls Ferry so I would park at his house and walk to work. Does anyone remember how good the restaurant was a Stix? They had the best cheeseburger on the planet!
WOW....seeing these photos and some other demolition photos on the net really bring back memories.
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