Remembering Landmark Mall…with an ’80s Flourish

At the time of this post, I have lived in Alexandria City for 22 years, but I was not born here.

Many of the posts I’ve written here are to do with places and events related to the Hampton Roads area, where I grew up. One such post shares my memories and experiences connected to Coliseum Mall that once was, in the City of Hampton in southern Virginia. (I spent a quite a bit of time there, as a youth.)

My wife, on the other hand, was born here. Well, not here in Alexandria where we currently reside, but just a couple of miles west in Annandale. The Strathmeade neighborhood in which she lived as a youth is located in the northwest portion of Annandale, putting it close to the Tysons Corner area in McLean / Vienna, which is home to not one but two of the most famous malls in America, Tysons Corner Center and Tysons Galleria. In her youth, she and her crew of friends would walk a few blocks, jump on a bus (for only a quarter), and hang out at Tysons on many of those wide-open summer days. But, for any real structured shopping missions, it was another nearby mall she and her family patronized: Landmark Shopping Center.

Landmark Shopping Center, originally an outdoor mall located at the far western edge of Alexandria City at 5801 Duke Street, immediately off of Interstate 395 at exit 3, officially opened it doors in October of 1965 with 32 stores including anchors The Hecht Co., Sears and Roebuck, and Woodward and Lothrop. As originally opened, Landmark was a 675,000-square-foot center with a 4,000-space parking lot, the largest in the city.

In 1990, Landmark underwent a massive re-development during which it was converted from a single-story outdoor complex to a fully-enclosed three-story mall.

During the process of buying the house in Old Town Alexandria that my then-fiancée and I would move into in the summer of 1998, I made several trips up to the area from Charlottesville to meet with our realtor. Northern Virginia was still quite alien to me at that time, and the first notable part of Alexandria that I spotted on every trip as I exited the Interstate was Landmark Mall.

My wife and I did much of our shopping at Landmark for the next 15 years. (We didn’t even log into Amazon at all until 2000/01.) I remember frequenting their nicely varied food court on the third floor, Barnie’s coffee shop just inside the front entrance, a video game store where I bought more than a few titles over the years, the arcade, Waldenbooks, FYE, Sears, Macy’s, and a variety of other shops over the years. I even got my hair cut their regularly, at Bubbles. A list of all stores within the mall as it existed in October 2004 is shown below, taken from an archive of the Landmark website.

Continue reading…

“Beverley Hills — The Completely-Planned Residential Community”

Beverley Hills pamphlet coverIn March 2003, my wife and I moved to the Beverley Hills neighborhood in northwest Alexandria [map], leaving a townhome where we had lived since August ’98 in the Old Town area of Alexandria [map]. The house we moved into was built in 1939 as part of a later phase of the neighborhood, which was established a year or two prior.

Most of the homes in Beverley Hills (one of the planners was named Beverley) were of rather small and basic design, with expansions being added as new owners came and old owners went over the years. Our home saw five expansions between 1939 and today (thought it’s still of only moderate square footage).

Well, a few years ago one of our neighbors mentioned that she had located a 1930s brochure promoting the under-construction Beverley Hills neighborhood. Being one who is intrigued by the histories of things, I asked if I might scan the item to archive and share. The result is the PDF document you see here (click the photo to link over). The illustrations and the language within are certainly from a different time.

While the street my family and I live on cannot be seen in the included aerial photo — it hadn’t been laid yet — the area shown does happen to be the part of the neighborhood we first stumbled into and found so appealing in searching Alexandria for a larger home than our Old Town dwelling.

I was thrilled to find this little piece of history that hits so…close to home.

Related Links:

Related update: Two torn newspaper comic strips from the 1930s found inside of our kitchen wall in Beverley Hills during a water repair back in 2012. I imagine these are a construction worker’s lunchtime reading, accidentally left behind and walled in.

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