Sunday, September 22, 2013

The rebirth of the Riverwalk Mall New Orleans Louisiana Part 1

Here are a collection of photos graciously submitted to the blog by Phillip from the last days of the Riverwalk Marketplace Mall in New Orleans Louisiana. This is the best set of photos I have seen from the mall. The mall is currently closed while a complete rebuild of the interior is ongoing. The mall is scheduled to reopen in 2014 as the Riverwalk Outlet collection which will be the "first" American downtown outlet mall. The mall was decent but not great in the final 5 years which lead to the complete closure and rebuild of the property to maximize the potential of the mall. The mall would have continued to survive as is, but the owners decided to completely clear out the stores for the new project. Part 2 will be explained at the end of this post. 

Here is the empty upper floor corridor facing towards the center of the mall. The mall was one level, but the mall increased in height at two points in the mall which increased the height to the equivalent of a second and then a third floor. Each section or incline of the mall had a different style. The "first level" was designed like a dark old style riverfront, the second was a bright neon and lively area, and the third had lots of natural light and the windows of the riverside stores had views of the river. 
The Fudgery was a lively place where the employees would sing and prepare chocolate treats in front of a crowd. They would have shows every half-hour if I remember correctly. 

I remember this to have been a Sports Avenue store on my last visit to the mall. This was in the area of the mall that was hit by the ship in 1996. 
The lower level near the Spanish Plaza entrance. 
Some of the demolition work had already started before the mall was closed off to the public. 
The entrance to Drago's restaurant in the Hilton. The Sharper Image was a long time tenant which was behind the staircase. 
One of the last stores to stick it out until the end. This store was once filled with Louisiana cooking items and touristy goods. 
This area was kind of a mini food court just before the first incline in the mall to the "second floor". A Cafe Du Monde with a river view was also in this section of the mall. 
Here is where the mall inclined to the "second floor". If I remember correctly the GAP was ahead near the escalators. 
Here are some random stores in the mall that were in the process of being cleared out. 
Back to the first incline of the mall to the Levee Market. 
The "second floor" of the mall contained several kiosks and small stores with mostly tourist shops. 
To the left was a restaurant space that had several restaurants there over the years. 


Here is the incline to the "third level". To the left of the escalator there was a toy store with a train track above the store and a separate kite store that sold toys also. 
Going towards the food court on the upper level. 
The Bon Fete food court was mostly full during the life of the mall and benefited from the next door convention center.  
The Mardi Gras store at the entrance to the food court was another one of the last stores left. 
Here are some more photos of the mall. 

Thank you Phillip for sharing these photos with the readers of the blog. 

Part 2 coming soon with a partial 1986 store list from the opening of the mall, and construction photos of the mall under reconstruction. 

5 comments:

  1. I remember the Riverwalk's days as a "real" mall, with all the national chains and variety of retail you expected from a mall, from my visits to N.O. as a kid in the '80s and early '90s. It was a very cool place then, and I was disappointed at the giant tourist trap it had turned into in later years.

    My last visit to the Riverwalk was in 2011, and "not great" is pretty much the way I would describe it. The singing Fudgery was fun, but otherwise the place was mostly a garish, touristy cliche. The same thing happened to the Jax Brewery in roughly the same time frame, but the Riverwalk is a bit more out-of-the-way and it was beyond me why the average tourist this sort of thing was geared to would make the trek over to it. I'm happy to hear it's going to be redone as something more mainstream and look forward to checking it out next year.

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    1. It is funny you mention the Jax Brewery, I will be doing a post on this mall in the near future. The Riverwalk started to really change in the mid 1990's to what it was before they closed it. Even before the redevelopment plan came forward many of the national chains had left the mall that were there for years.

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  2. Hi..I worked at both Life In the Big Easy and the New Orleans Visitor Center [the swamp tour picture..] This place was great in the late 90s early 2000s..but it never fully recovered from Hurricane Katrina. There were rumors from as early as 2010 that Riverwalk was closing or being revamped. It was a slow death and everyone that worked there knew it. But I still had fun! [Oh and a boat crashed into it in 1996..just sayin']

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    1. I remember the Bright Field incident and the mall being closed for a short while after that. I think the new plans for the mall will really help to bring the mall back. Some of the old stores will be returning which the mall owners did not originally want but they probably did not have the turnout for stores that they expected.

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