Thursday, October 8, 2009

Gulfgate Shopping City



Welcome to the Gulfgate Shopping City. Originally opened in the mid 1950's at the intersection of what is now I-45 and I-610. This center was originally constructed as an open air mall with four anchors; the mall was later enclosed. This mall was very popular for many years, but declined in the early 1990's. One of the reasons for the mall's decline and eventual demise are the numerous amount of malls in southeast Houston. Along a 25 mile stretch of I-45 south there is Gulfgate, Almeda, Baybrook, and Mall of the Mainland. Throw in Pasadena Town Square and the Galleria nearby and this small mall could not compete. The mall was not updated much after the 1980's and had lost two anchors that were never refilled. I only remember Service Merchandise and Dillard's as being open in the 1990's there. There was also a small cinema that was accessible from a footbridge over I-610 that was part of the mall. I visited this mall in 2000 just before it was shut down completely. At this point all of the anchors were closed and only a small section of the mall still had stores in business. Outside of this area a foot locker was all by itself in an empty corridor. Strangely, the hallways were completely open in the empty sections and they made no effort in closing them off. I should have brought a camera with me since the mall is now completely gone. There are many historical photos of this mall available online. Check out the following link for an overview of the site before the mall was enclosed http://www.texasfreeway.com/Houston/historic/photos/images/i45_i610s_undated.jpg . The line of stores from HEB to Anna's Linen's were the first to open in 2004 and the Best Buy section opened in 2008. There is also a Lowe's across the street that is included in the development, but it was not in the original mall footprint. The site is bustling with activity and the new stores do well here. I still wish that they could have revamped the mall because the site is one of the best and most accessible in central Houston.

Here are some of the signs around the shopping center. The two tall signs are updated versions of the original mall signs. The original signs had pink and blue neon and read Gulfgate Shopping City. The bridge in the last picture went to the cinema which has been replaced by a bus terminal.






Here are photos of the new development that has been built over the former mall site.









2 comments:

  1. That mall sign was "Jetson's-esque" I would imagine because of NASA being such a big deal in Houston when it was built. I remember my grandmother liked to shop at a store there called "Walter Py's." She said it was very high end.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The original sign was much better, but this one modernized the center. I never got to see this mall during its heyday, but The Houston Chronicle has some nice vintage photos of the mall in those days.

      Delete