Monday, May 14, 2012

Cortana Mall Baton Rouge LA

Cortana Mall is the largest shopping mall in the state of Louisiana at 1.4 or 1.6 million square feet (depending on the source) of retail space. Cortana Mall is located at the corner of Airline Highway (US 61) and Highway 190 Florida Blvd near the geographic center of Baton Rouge. The mall has faced major competition in the past 15 years with the newer Mall of Louisiana and more recently two major lifestyle centers which are all closer to the population growth of the Baton Rouge metro area. Sears and JCPenney have been consistent anchors since day one on August 4, 1976. Cortana Mall eventually caused the demise of the nearby Bon Marche Mall which was located just down Airline Highway from Cortana.

For more information about Cortana Mall click in the following links.
A funny You Tube commercial for Cortana Mall.
Baton Rouge rocks thread for Cortana Mall
Cortana Mall Cinema
Cortana Mall photo from the air
Cortana Mall 1 at urban prairie
Cortana Mall 2 at urban prairie
Cortana Mall security vehicle photos on flickr
Deadmalls article on Cortana Mall
Greater Baton Rouge business report 1
Mall of Fame article
Wordpress article
And finally of course a wikipedia article

Here are some photos from 2007-2008 that were graciously donated by a Jamie, a reader of the blog. Thank you for sending these photos over, and helping me clarify some of the stores that were in the mall.

The first outside photos of the mall were taken on Christmas day 2007 when the mall was closed.

Still in 2007- The clock in front of Macy's.
The fountain in front of Macy's.
The entrance to Dillard's, before the store was a clearance center.
A closed Warehouse/ Blockbuster Music store.
A different view of the above store.
The mall entrance near Sears.
Wacky Bear, now gone.
Former Waldenkids attached to the Waldenbooks store near Dillard's.
The former Waldenbooks.
Possibly a former Yankee Candle store with Gamestop and Style Setter.
Former Ritz Camera.
Macy's which was a Dillard's until 1999, then became a Foley's.
New York and company ain't dere no mo.
Neither is Mervyn's, but Mervyn's closed all of their stores in 2009. 
FYE is gone too.
A former Taco Bell.
2007- This area of the mall still looks the same in 2012.
Italian restaurant Mama Brava, possibly a former Sizzler.
Across the hall from Ruby Tuesday.
All of the stores in this area are now gone.

Still in 2007- Steve and Barry's is now a Virginia College.
This section of the mall still looks the same in 2012.
Kay Bee still looks the same in 2012.
The last 2007 photo; the corridor to the left of Dillard's, see more on this corridor below in 2012.
Fast forward to 2012, Cortana Mall is working to add new stores to the mall. Filling the former Service Merchandise/ Steve and Barry's anchor is a good start. Getting together a food court by offering free rent to new tenants for a certain period of time near where most of the current restaurants are located would also help the mall. Students from the college would be more likely to walk through the mall, and more people would park near the food court entrance of the mall increasing customer traffic to the anchor stores through the mall. The former Mervyn's would be an ideal location to build a cinema and fill the last vacant anchor spot and would be attached to the food court area. A couple of malls in the Houston area have recently added cinemas to fill vacant anchor spots. The marketing teams can also market the size of the mall as the largest in Louisiana to tenants and customers. Cortana Mall can be so much more. As you can see from many of the photos above many of the stores that have closed were due to companies shutting down or downsizing such as with FYE and New York and Company.

Here are my photos from 2012.
Dillard's has been scaled back to a clearance store; this is a blow to the mall.
The inside of the JCPenney still has some mirrored glass left over from the 1980's inside of the store.  
The Sears anchor.
The Macy's anchor.
The former Service Merchandise/Steve and Barry's anchor is now a college.
Mervyn's has been empty except for a few thrift sales since 2005 when the chain left Louisiana.
Many empty store fronts from the past stores remain visible throughout the mall. This area is the Dillard's corridor. More on these two stores later on in this post.  
Near Dillard's.
This is the corridor between Sears and Macy's/JCPenney.
This is the hall between the center of the mall and the JCPenney/ College area of the mall. 
The Bath and Body works store survives in this area with a handful of restaurants. 
There are two spots in the mall where restaurants are located. There are three in this food court like area, and three more in between Sears and the center court area. 
Pacsun has left the mall 
JCP second entrance right across from Macy's.
Piccadilly or any cafeteria is a rare sight in malls these days. Cafeteria's have been slowly dying for the past fifteen years. 
This is looking into the mall from the Sears entrance. Only a few businesses are in this part of the mall.
Looking towards Sears and the vacancies.
The Sears court of the mall.
A Hi-style store is on the left of this photo.
The closed up entrance in the middle of this photo looks like a Walgreens entrance from their 1980's mall stores. Just past this empty store are places to sign up for the Army, Navy, or Marines. 
This is one of the fountains in front of the Macy's store. 
The blue neon illuminates this area of the mall near Macy's and JCPenney.
The center court has several small kiosks, but the kiosks partially block the view of the hallway where Bath and Body Works and the food outlets are located. 
The next photo is in the hallway near the food outlets looking towards the center court of the mall.
Payless and a small Chinese restaurant are at the end of this corridor. This was the entrance to Mervyn's. 
This area of the mall near the center court is mostly full of stores.
This area near Dillard's and JCP is nearly full of stores as well.
This hallway to the left of the Dillard's entrance is completely empty of stores. The photos from 2007 show this area nearly full of stores. 
Was this an arcade in the past?
Life Uniform was located in the most visible storefront in this photo.
Former Mastercuts.
Former Ruby Tuesday.
The view walking away from the Dillard's corridor. This area of the mall is also nearly full of stores.  
A rare find; a nearly untouched Kay Bee Toys store front next to the entrance to Dillard's. Hopefully they will take away the cardboard from behind the gates in the future so we can see the inside of the store.
Right next to the Kay Bee Toys was a Waldenbooks with a WaldenKids entrance.

Fancy entrance to the clearance center.
This view is looking towards Dillard's.
Now we go to the former Service Merchandise corridor. Stores located here are Radio Shack, Footaction, Hibbett Sports, and a few others.

The entrance to the Virginia College and the former Service Merchandise/ Steve and Barry's.
A shot of the former FYE store. 
The Virginia College wing facing JCP.
The center court and kiosk city.
Walking toward the Sears wing.

This was the GAP store.
Sears, a better view of the entrance.
From inside the closed Waldenbooks.
The same sign from above from a different angle.

Near JCP in the center of the mall.

The entrance near the Virginia College.

Service Merchandise/ Steve and Barry's/ Virginia College.
Former FYE from the 2007 shot above. Hibbett Sports a personal favorite mall store is reflected in the glass.
A close-up of the Kay Bee Toy logo. Most toy stores in malls these days sell the cheap non-branded toys that break quickly, and "all sales are final".
Mervyn's inside and outside. Closed Mervyn's stores are usually easy to photograph; they just sold all of the merchandise and did not cover up the glass. The inside of this store is well preserved from the outside looking in.

You can ring the bell, but nobody is home.
Here is another no smoking sign, just like at the San Jacinto Mall location.
The labelscar is still there from Mervyn's.
The Picadilly Cafeteria mall entrance.
The Dillard's/ former Ruby Tuesday entrance to the mall.
2012- The sign has faded a little but still looks the same.


  1. Great post. I love / loathe the way this place has fallen apart in the last ten or so years. Sad to see a beheamouth fall but interesting nonetheless.

  2. I really like this mall and I hope that things will turn around for the mall. I just can't see a city the size of Baton Rouge with only one indoor mall if this one goes under.

  3. I worked at Cortana Mall from 1980 until 1996. Very many of my teenage memories involve Cortana. I can not tell you when the decline of the mall began, but to me, it always seemed liked the place to be before Mervyns was added on.

    Entrance 3 was THE major entrance being at the bottom of what could best be described as a v-shaped mall. It was the location of the movie theater, Judy, Judy, Judy's, Chick-Fil-A (which has never moved from that spot since opening), Karmelkorn, and the game room Space Port.

    Christmases were always elbow to elbow during the holiday season. School children's voices filled the air with their songs. It was always a magical place for me to be.

    I went back to visit not too long ago and it was like visiting an old friend whose best times have come and gone. I miss seeing all of my favorite places. Merry Go Round, DJ's, and others have all faded away. There were only 2 people on the Sears side of the mall where once their were hundreds.

    Thanks for the opportunity to revisit some of my fondest memories.

    1. Thanks for sharing your memories of the mall. I had not visited this mall until the early 2000's. I passed by several times on Airline but I did not stop by until then. My last visit was over a year ago, has the mall changed since then or is it the same?

    2. that's strange a macy's bought an old dillard's and kept all the old fixtures of Dillard's . Those are the typical looking stores from the early to mid 90's.I guess the store was to upscale to really modified it anymore.

    3. A lot of the Foley's stores that Macy's took over were not modified very much at all except for new signage. I think Macy's only upgrades locations they think will last for 10 years or more. It goes to show you which stores they have confidence in.

    4. For those who might remember...what was the name of the Bakery in the Cortana parents would drive from New Orleans once a month just to go there...was it Winston's?

  4. Thanks for this post. It brought back a lot of memories of going here with my mom in the early 2000s. We used to go to the Chick-Fil-A in one of the pictures every time we went.

    1. You are welcome, I would like to visit the mall again sometime soon. It has been a few years since I last went by.