The Hawthorne Plaza: An iPhone photo essay in urban decay

Looking North from “JC Pennys”

Note April 16 2014: Since this article has gone viral there are some great comments and some that are hateful and race based. I approve all comments except those that discuss race etc …just trying to stop the hate and let people focus and discuss the photos etc.
 Chris
Once upon a time in there was a thriving aerospace community in south Los Angeles County called Hawthorne. Hawthorne was an “all American” town, in fact the town spawned one of the greatest musical groups in history, the Beach Boys…they went to Hawthorne High School. Hawthorne was a model of the middle class dream, where families would come to work, buy a house and raise a family and to fulfill the American dream.

Escalator leading to underground garage

In 1977 the Hawthorne Plaza opened its doors to meet the booming retail needs of the city. The Hawthorne Plaza was 900,000 sq ft…it was huge, 2 stories and had a 5 acre parking area. The Hawthorne Plaza was an “indoor” mall so the residents did not have to brave the harsh Southern California weather in winter when temps would sometimes dip into the low 60’s!
The Hawthorne Plaza began to falter as several other large scale “shopping mall” projects were completed in nearby Torrance and Redondo Breach. The Hawthorne Plaza struggled to find and maintain quality  tenants to occupy the location along with its anchor stores of “The Broadway”, “Montgomery Wards” and “JC Penny”.

These escalators were used in several major motion pictures

The Mall was looted during the riots of April 1992 and from that point on went on a quick downward spiral into oblivion. The Hawthorne Plaza was put out of its misery and closed in 1999. It has sat, virtually untouched except by vandals for the last 13 yrs.
The Hawthorne Plaza was the filming site for some very famous movies such as the Terminator, Minority Report and Fast and Furious as well as the Green Lantern used the parking areas as “freeways” to shoot scenes.

a contrast in color and decay

What will become of the Hawthorne Plaza in the future? Nobody knows, we can hope that some smart developers will see the value in its location and vast amount of parking and redevelop it. I think most people would also be satisfied if a large earthquake were to crumble the Hawthorne Plaza to the ground, then we could start all over again and build something that the city would be proud of.
I took these photos in July 2011 as I performed a security check with the workers who are doing a bit of demolition on the inside . I put them here in a tribute to the hopes and dreams of a community that were never realized, as well as a symbol of urban decay that shows the ever dividing and widening gap between the “upper class” and the working class-soon to be working poor.
All photos were shot with an iPhone 4

No Cars to park here, but plenty of parking!

No Toys anymore

Many years since the last sale at this Broadway store…or any other for that matter

only the ghosts of shoppers past sit on these benches now

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67 responses to “The Hawthorne Plaza: An iPhone photo essay in urban decay

  1. Chris, this might be your best post of all time. So sad, and so retrospective. This is the end result of hooliganism, of crime, of society spiraling out of control.

    What makes this even more pathetic is the news from a couple of days ago that Rodney King was busted for yet another DUI. I immediately thought “Hasn’t he used all of this three strikes by now?”

    I’d like to think that the people who looted at this mall back in 1992 feel at least a small sense of remorse, but I know better. Some people have no conscience.

    Thanks for sharing this. It’s a classic, Chris.

  2. Good post, Chris. Brings back memories..my Air Force recruiter was just about across the street, back in ’76.
    If I remember correctly, it was a pretty decent area during the day. At night, it was a good place to stay away from. My buddies and I always had the rule of staying away from Hawthorne Blvd where the street lights were orangish, instead of a blue hue. Supposedly it was mimiced daylight.
    I never understood why, during the riots, they were burning their own neighborhoods and looting local business’s…

  3. Thanks for the pictures, Chris. So sad – we have seen malls closed and abandoned here in AZ, also.. Well, we have our memories! I hope somebody does came along and resurrect them!

  4. I really enjoyed this article.

  5. I drove by this today with a friend and told him that I wondered what happened to this massive place and why nothing has been done with it since. I also wished I could just walk around inside to see what it’s like. In response, my friend did some googling long after I forgot the conversation and now I know what’s inside thanks to your pictures.

    Now all I want to do is shoot a zombie movie there. If you’ve played the video game Left 4 Dead, you know this looks as if at least one level of the game was modeled after this location. All that’s missing are the lumbering, brain hungry corpses…

  6. Chris,
    Wondering if you know who owns this mall now?

  7. This is sickening, how would you like to own property and live across the street ( as I do) from this abandoned wreck. The semi-secured parking structure has become a creepy, grafitti scrawled, isore. Some people dump their trash, old carpet, furniture in the driveways and along the railroad tracks there and there also appears to be a makeshift “hobo jungle” of some sort near the RR tracks. All within sight of the Hawthorne Police Dept!! I wonder if the people who bear witness to the “urban decay” would like to live right next door to it! Shame on the City of Hawthorne and the property owner for ignoring this problem for so long!

  8. Architecturally speaking, it is better than the SB Galleria and Del Amo. . Hawthorne was brought down by the construction of the 105 as well. The density of the city dramatically went up and then all the white people left (white flight). It should be converted into a mixed development with housing and shops. Turn a portion of the immense parking lot into a park. There is that shiny new police station across the street as well.

  9. This is very disturbing in that I was born and lived and loved Hawthorne for close to 18 years. I left in 1977 to go to college. i remember being so thrilled with anticipation when this mall was being planned and built to have something like this to go to with friends and hang-out with them. it was a sparkling place in the 70’s filled with the promise of things to come for a teenager who grew up in such an idealistic place as Hawthorne. I am really disapointed in the City of Hawthorne to let something like this happen. I guess you can’t go back home and to your youth? Tear it down and start over!

  10. This was really cool to see what happened to that mall. I grew up out there on 120th and Hawthorne back in 1979 to 1987.

    I went to school there and we would all hang out at the mall after school. I remember upstairs there was an arcade that we used to play video games at. Across from the Toy Store there was a 1950’s style diner there where we would go and have real “Cherry Coke”.

    Many good memories there at that mall! Taking my first girlfriend for a walk and also my first kiss. What a shame that they let it go to waste like that. You are right, Hawthorne was a good town, unfortunately the gangs and everything else tore that town up. What a shame!

    Well thank you for letting me see the inside of that place again, you brought back some good memories of growing up there.

  11. I was googling and looking for a different mall and find this post. I disagree about what brought the end of the mall. Your first poster listed: “This is the end result of hooliganism, of crime, of society spiraling out of control.”
    It is the opposite, I remember when the mall was the place to go, but over zealous police made it unbearable. Once the undesirables where chased away the police started on anybody they could find. The police made the mall the last place to go and like you stated, there where other alternatives where people where not getting harassed.

  12. Thanks for your article and the pictures. I lived in Hawthorne from 2000 and always wondered what happened to this place. Last time I was in LA was last Nov and it’s still looking run down. Hope someone brings it back to life or rebuilds it.

  13. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I worked at this mall from 1979 to 81, when it was a thriving great place to work and shop. It’s sad to see it now, a crumbling ghost of what it used to be.

  14. Great photos!

    The last I heard was that a lot of the parking lots and certain areas of the mall were condemned because of the Northridge Quake. I forgot the last time I was there, but it was so sad. Most of the stores had already closed down, and had those pop-up dollar discount stores that temporarily fill up spaces.

  15. Valerie Lecesse

    Thank you for this pictorial. The last time I went to this mall (1980?), my battery was stolen out of my Nova. That’s the last time I went back.

  16. Hawthorne Resident

    Why would people want a large earthquake to tear it down?

    That statement doesn’t make any sense. Especially since this mall is in the middle of a populated neighborhood.

    • The statement was that damage made from the earthquake based in northridge in 1994 caused areas and stores to close due to them being unsafe.

  17. Thank you for posting these photos. I had often wondered what was inside the abandoned mall. WHY it has never been restored/refurbished? The city of Hawthorne put in fountains down the center of the Hawthorne Blvd. and rebuilt the City Hall and Police Station. But that sadly, does not distract the eye from the wasted potential of the Hawthorne Mall. One of my first jobs was at the JCPenny. Unfortunately, the Hawthorne Mall was also the first place we ever had tires stolen off our parked cars, and the only place I was ever held up, outside the Movie theater in the parking lot.
    The mall could still be something amazing… torn down and build a walking promenade of shop or build an outdoor ampitheater for music. A giant dog park would be better than an empty shell…

  18. I wondered what it looked like inside. Now I know. Remember it so well. Thanks for posting the pics. Such a waste.

  19. I still remember going there as a kid!! And I’m 21!

  20. The Reason They Have None Done Anything To It Is Because The Owner Does Not Want To He Rented Out The Parking For Awhile.. For The County Building For Awhile Be He Does Not Want To Build… But Yes It A Waste He Shud Let Them Rebuild & Make That City Beautiful Again

  21. Hooliganism, crime and gangs huh? OK. No one has said it so I will. What killed it and has turned the area to garbage is the black people that rode in on the bus from their crappy neighborhoods. Hawthorne was nice so the went there. They brought their way if life with them. Attitudes and brutality included. Gangs, crime and hooliganism as it’s been called here. The rest of the non black population slowly left to get away from the encroaching riff raff. Who wants to take the chance of being the one mugged or worse. And no that isn’t a stereotype. That is fact. I witnessed it and experienced it. It became a daily battle. Once it starts the only thing to do to avoid conflict is to leave. Pretty soon the riff raff was all that was left and they turned this nice area and mall into what they rode the buses from in the first place. A crappy ghetto area. Racist, yeah whatever. Facts are facts and you can’t label me racist for pointing out the facts. I lived there. I experienced the downward spiral first hand. Go to Hawthorne today and see the racial makeup of the city and the surrounding communities. Most black people just don’t like having nice things. Pretty soon the blacks see how what a crappy place they live in (Hawthorne). So they leave to get away from themselves. Then start the process all over again someplace else. ( how’s Portland Oregon doing). That is what killed the mall. …………………..

    • Hawthorne Resident

      Although the 1992 riot was not a plausible excuse to tear down a majestic premature landmark such as the Hawthorne Mall/Plaza, your words are a bit strong, in fact, stupor. True, the migration of people from inner cities to Hawthorne is profound, but you should not judge an entire race; there’s a miscreant in every ethnicity. Most people come here to commence a better life. Hawthorne is still a grand place to live and raise a family. I know everyone is entitled to their own notion, but do not attempt to pass yours as fact; it’s/you’re bias, racist, and (judging by your grammar and punctuation skills) uneducated.

      P.S.
      2010 Census Data For Hawthorne show a rich diversity of ethnic cultures:
      Hispanic………………………52.9%
      White…………………………10.3%
      Black………………………… 26.8%
      Asian and other……………..6.5%
      American Indian ……………0.2%
      Two or more races…………1.8
      Some other race alone…….0.5
      Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander ….1.1%

      (Source: cityofhawthorne.com/about/demographics.asp)

    • Hawthorne is made up of several races, black, white, hispanic, Asian and so on. It really depends on the area. Just south of El Segundo and west of Hawthorne Blvd there are very nice homes and it is far from “crappy” or “ghetto”. I remember going to this mall as a child and I don’t remember seeing any gangs or “riff raff”, but then again I wasn’t a closed minded racist stereo-typing and placing labels on people because of the way they look. What stopped me from going to this mall as well as most of the people I knew was the retail options it offered. All the cool stores that were popular and the “it’ places to shop at were not there. Most black people do like having nice things it’s sad that the bubble you live in prevent you from seeing that. I feel extremely sad for people like you who hate and mind set limit you to a false sense of happiness because there’s no way you can think like that and truly enjoy all life has to offer. Continue to limit yourself and use that better than them thinking while this black person continue to enjoy the nice things I’ve been blessed with and live a peaceful life full of love and happiness.

    • I concur completely!!

    • Growing up there, I hate to but I have to agree. But the problem was the rise in apartment buildings. Since Larry Guidi was elected, a ton of low cost really shitty apartment buildings were built. The city is riddled with these complexes where people sit in the front all day and no one cares what the front looks like. The issue really a race issue, but low cost housing is what brought alot of people to Hawthorne. Unfortunately with low cost housing comes some of the undesirables.

    • James.. you are right on here.. the truth is the truth.. have lived here all my life and have witnessed the exact thing you have stated for the most part…

    • well put james my gf is from hawthrone and she said the same thing and i heard they tried ruining the galleria as well

    • Amen James, amen!!!

    • James, you are a pathetic, ignorant tool

  22. Not great writing. Very cool pictures, humor and insight dont come across so well in the essay itself.

  23. If I recall correctly the mall is now on lease to the city of Hawthorne. What used to me JC Pennys had offices or such built up but I believe is yet again abandoned. Monkey Wards is now housing both WIC and Hawthorne PD offices (I understand the PD does some training there as well). This has opened a small section below where the underground parking is still available off 120th st.

    Above it was mentioned about security/police harassment at the mall which is 100% accurate. I recall days at the Hawthorne Mall where lines to the escalator and Hot Dog on a Stick were common. This was the 80’s however which was a time where police in general had a self judgement rule, dont get me started on Torrance PD and now currently there are public issues with Lawndale Sheriff (subbed out Lennox Sheriff) but again, thats another story.

    The “earthquake” damage isnt the reason why the mall was never refurbished or modified/rebuilt. There have been numerous development plans and such drawn up but the conclusion has been touched upon which was the malls initial fate, the general public that started to take over. It became unsafe for people to venture out after night in the area. I myself had been shot at, chased by cars on my bicycle, a victim of a couple attempted kidnappings and robberies… and I was just a kid at the time. In the 90’s I lived just blocks from the mall and recall nightly car chases and such involving the police. Albeit its calmed significantly to the point the 90’s are difficult to believe but a new mall isnt going to happen. That is unless both the economy and the people support it. As it stands there is little public support for neighborhoods anymore, even less in such an area the mall is located in.

    The trouble that plagued Hawthorne Mall traveled to both the South Bay Galleria and Old Town Mall for a time. This put the Galleria in jeopardy for a period (in fact some stores closed and left as did with Del Amo) with Old Town shutting down to be remodeled for an extended period then plans changed to NOT be an enclosed mall but an open shopping center. If anyone recalls what was once the main section of Del Amo had closed for years with the malls fate uncertain. This is where both Jackie Brown and Bad Santa had filmed many scenes (the vacant Del Amo Monkey Wards). That section was torn out and remodeled as an open air exterior. Yet, again, there are a couple abandoned and incomplete sections.

    The RFK Hospital is just down the street from Hawthorne Mall and it too is abandoned.

    The old Hawthorne Police Station, across from the new location, is available for filming. If I recall some of Reno 911 was shot there and of course in Carson. It wont be long before the old station is abandoned as well due to funding.

    If anyone is still reading, the city of Lawndale built a new Civic Center around the old existing one leaving the old section abandoned instead of tearing it down! Sort of makes one wonder who is making these decisions.

  24. What’s your name? Thank you for this!
    Please join ‘Bring Back Hawthorne Mall’ on Facebook

  25. “Redondo Breach.” Was that on purpose? Either way, good’un!

  26. If you look at what has become of Hawthorne over the years you’ll understand the deterioration of this mall. It is simply a reflection of the town itself. Hawthorne may have been a nice town…once. But even back in the 80s if you lived in the Southbay you rarely went north of Redondo Beach Blvd and almost never north of Rosecrans and that is more true today. Thankfully Lawndale (due to a large amount of businesses in the area adjacent to the Southbay) is still an effective buffer.

  27. Antonio Martinez

    Thanks for the memories. I worked at Karen Korn from 1991 to 1992 just after the riots. I walked this mall from 1979 til it closed and I have all the best memories hanging out in the arcade.

  28. Like a few of you that lived and grew up there, I too grew up in Lennox 15 blocks from that mall. I had some wonderful memories of it. My best friends mom worked at the Broadway and I remember we would go see her after school then play video games in the arcade. I spent my first paycheck there from my first job. I bought my first pair of Nike shoes from Foot Locker and a watch from Radio Shack. ( Imagine the flood of memories that came back from the Superbowl Ads for Radio Shack about the 80’s) I lived in that area from 1977 to 1986 when I moved away for college.
    As an African American my view on the demise of this mall and the area as a whole will differ from others who drove thru or past or only read what the area was like. There are many contributing factors why that area is no longer desirable. Too many to list here but I will say it was not gangs. I was never a gang member but knew many. Gangs were there before the mall was ever built. The cops dealt with shit heads that wanted attention and kept us all safe. No one in that area saw color we saw each other. Black, White, Brown, or others we were all citizens of the community of Hawthorne, California.
    I still have friends in the neighborhood I grew up in which is how I got this article.

    It is ironic I was chatting with my neighbor down the street who grew up in Hawthorne in the 60’s and 70’s and attended Hawthorne High School.( I attended Lennox) we were talking about what a nice community it was and the things to do there. He lived off of Imperial Hwy west of Hawthorne Blvd.
    He past away a few weeks ago and was planning a drive thru the old neighborhood before his next trip to a Dodgers Game. I will make that trip through the old neighborhood for him.

    I am sadden by the decay of a wonderful community center piece that brought many of us that lived in the area together on a regular occasion.

    Thank you Chris for sharing and bringing back memories of a wonderful time in my life.

  29. Hi Chris,
    Thank you so much for sharing memories of Hawthorne Mall. There are so many of us that have such great memories of times we have shared with friends and family that took place when Hawthorne was a beautiful place to live. My family left in 1990 when things started getting out of control. I was only 19 at the time. It was the best move they could have made. I drove by Hawthorne High school when I was back there a few years ago… it was so sad. Everything looks run down and even the people walking on the street look unhappy. Where did the days go of kids riding bikes, skating or skateboards? or families going to the high school to watch fire works on 4th of July? or going to Hawthorne Mall for an Orange Julius or Hot Dog on a Stick? or counting how many limos you would see on prom night driving by?
    I am grateful for growing up in Hawthorne when families took care of each other and felt safe leaving the doors and windows unlocked. A true shame that crime took it away from us and now from our own children.
    Thanks again for the trip down memory road. I can only pray that one day this once beautiful place to raise children will be reborn again and happy families will prosper.
    Ginny Jadwin

    • Ginny, Hawthorne High School has had a huge facelift and remodel. Gone are the old front offices and auditorium replaced with ground up new buildings, new front parking facade and such. Its unrecognizable as “Hawthorne High” for anyone that didnt know the work was done. You mention parks and skating, Eucalyptus park just down the street has also been revamped complete with a, can you believe it, skate park! This was once a run down drug hang out now its full of kids again.

      When I attended Hawthorne High, around 86 or so, that was the year a fight between a Hawthorne High sports player happened at Leuzinger High, so that Leuzinger student rallied the team to jump kids at Hawthorne… and it spiraled to a full on riot with a mass of Leuzinger students on the grounds of Hawthorne shutting the schools down for the day leading to gates put up and Hawthorne becoming an enclosed campus.

      The Beach Boys were mentioned, my mom used to date one of them in high school but she went to Lawndale High. It was shut down for decades, turned into Lloyd continuation/adult ED, and has now been remodeled and re-opened again as Lawndale High. The cities have some sort of attempt to regain the old feel of days gone past but areas abandoned are a complete failure on the cities part. Eyesore aside, they become a focus of negativity. Bad decisions and poor planning dont help. On the flip side of that, nobody could foresee the digital age and daily life now on hand with the internet. If that had been foreseen, shopping malls would have been bypassed for the most part as a whole.

      Anyone that has been in the South Bay to see all this unfold like I have know it wasnt just Hawthorne Mall but every area, not just malls, fall victim to the economy, bad decisions and the economy. Cruising became illegal chasing away much business, Esplanade, the piers, Inglewood, Westwood, Hollywood, Melrose, Sunset, and even Whittier all are ghost towns much of the time while some areas mentioned are “abandoned” by none direct locals. People were chased away whether it be by crime, the economy or worse being the city itself. Hawthorne Mall was a sign of things to come, and here we are.

  30. I forgot to add in the earlier post, the paint scheme seen in the above pictures was done for the film Minority Report. Hawthorne Mall was used as part of the end chase scene. The only film you will see any resemblance of the old mall is in Evolution as they filmed just as the mall closed. The last Batman movie considered filming there but ended up at El Camino College. The parking structure there was used for chase scenes as its unobstructed where Hawthorne Mall’s parking structure is blocked and obstructed in areas. Ill also toss this into the mix, Marvel looked at the mall to potentially build the (at the time new) Marvel Studios there but opted for property in Manhattan Beach. Yet Marvel Studios left the US completely over this past year due to how the film industry has been run into the ground especially here in CA.

  31. So beautiful. The Hawthorne Plaza was the route I took,on foot, everyday from school. Such fond memories. Thank you for giving it a heart beat!

  32. I remember that mall. I grew up near, and later learned to fly out of Hawthorne Airport. Got my ass handed to me a few times at Holly Park just up 120th. Anyone remember Mr. Martin the librarian. He ran the satellite branch on Van Ness and 120th for the longest time. One too many bullet holes in the front windows shuttered that place.
    I worked at the Pup & Taco on El Segundo near Acacia during high school. That’ll date me, I think its a Taco Bell now.
    I never saw any Studio trucks in the parking lot of the mall but I knew they were using it as a set. I recognized it in Minority Report. Couldn’t believe Tom Cruise went anywhere near that place. But I’m really disappointed that no one has mentioned the greatest movie ever filmed in that mall. Check out the great flying dragon scenes in Evolution.
    Anyone remember the Hawthorne 6 theaters? I saw a rat the size of a small dog crawling up those curtained walls in one of them. People went screaming for their lives.
    Good times, yup, good times.
    It was pre Atari and Coleco Vision back then so the only place we could play video games was at the malls arcade. Then we discovered Old Towne and later Del Amo. Didn’t have to worry about getting beat up for your tokens there. Old Towne was an indoor mall at the time, and along with a killer arcade had a couple rides in it. Del Amo was just heaven. An actual bumper car track… inside the arcade!
    Ok lets really go back. Anyone remember the dentist office on Hawthorne Blvd just North of the mall that was shaped like a medieval castle?
    Yup, good ol’ Hawthorne.

  33. Incredible that some idiots want to blame this on race. There are countless malls across America that are abandoned and decrepit like this one, in communities of all combinations of ethnicities. It’s the economy, stupid.

  34. Sometimes you don’t see the true value in something until it’s gone. I have a lot of memories of this mall! I always hoped someone would being it back to life i am 100% sure if they did it would be one of the top malls in CA

  35. I so much remember this mall had some great times here and the theater next to the mall ..now its an albertsons…but great memories!!!☺

  36. I was there on opening day. I worked at the Carl’s Jr. on the second floor and remember what a what a mad house it was those first few weekends. Carl Karcher even brought his hot dog cart there a couple of weeks after we opened. I also remember the theater, riding those escalators, the parking in the back that was HUGE and all the people that came there from the surrounding area. I went to Lennox High, but at the time, it was pretty cool to be from Hawthorne because the Beach Boys were extremely popular. It was a great mall with lots and lots of people in the early years, but then it started to dwindle and landscape of the mall really changed. I do have to say, I remember getting jumped one afternoon (broad daylight) when I went to through the trash out in one of those corridors. Fortunately for me, my co-worker was on his way and this guy was an ex-con who settled the situation pretty quickly (no violence). I remember how great the Broadway store was in those days. Anyone remember Chess King? Geez, I think I bought a million things there in the day.

    Sad to see the photos, but thank you for sharing. It did bring back quite a rush of 1977 to 1979 when I worked there. Last time I went to this mall, would’ve been 1983 or so. I live in another state now, but my sister lives in Torrance, so I drive by it all the time. Very sad to see it all closed up and in the shape it’s in. I think at one point Northrop or Hughes occupied an end of the mall, but that was a while ago. Thanks for the memories. Hawthorne was a great town in those days and I do miss driving up and down that street. I even remember when you could park in the center there of the street (now it has a median)..

  37. I WAS A LITTLE GIRL WHEN I MOVED TO LAWNDALE. MY BROTHER & SISTER ARE OLDER THAN ME BUT THEY USED TO ALWAYS TAKE ME WITH THEM THERE. EVERY CHRISTMAS, MY MON WOULD GO BUY US POPCORN FROM THE STORE IN THERE.

    ITS SO SAD TO STILL DRIVE BY & SEE ITS STILL SUFFERING. I WISH SOMEONE WOULD REVIVE IT FOR THE NEW GENERATIONS TO COME.

  38. I remember the movie theatre at the end of the mall. Snuck in with friends to see Saturday Night Fever before being 17. We moved out of Hawthorne in 1980 and had no idea this is what happened to the once great Hawthorne mall. Such a shame.

  39. THE HAWTHORNE PLAZA. I attended HHS from 76 to 80, my first high school dance was at the Plaza when it first open. My first job was at KG Men’s Store, lower level next to Wards. My brother and other friends worked their as well, Millers Outpost, Orange Julius, Hot Dog on A Stick.

    We shopped and went to the movies as well, there was holiday and promotional events all the time. Later in my college years I worked part time again, Jack’s Men’s Store second level near JC Pennies. I would walk to work every day, I would cut through the parking lot during the rainy season and I got to know this place pretty well during my life, and I am very thankful for the financial support and fun memories it provided me during my younger years.

    Hawthorne Plaza was and will always a special place for me and everyone who was lucky to work & shop there. I am not sure what it’s future will be, but it should be a historical site by now. None the less, the structure stood the test of time and the many earthquakes since it was build.

    Thank you for share the photos and great memories.

  40. Heather Stewart

    CITY OF HAWTHORNE TAKE SOME RESPONSIBILITY!
    I remember when the Hawthorne Mall opened, I was 7 years old and it was an event when my mother brought me to this beautiful brand new mall to shop. Within 10 years when I was 17, I had to sneak over to shop there because my “over protective” mother thought it wasn’t a safe place. Within 10 years when I was 27 I hadn’t shopped there in years and had never even considered bringing my own daughter there. I left the state in 1998 and was unaware of the mall’s sad demise. While I’m not surprised by the fate of the Hawthorne Mall I am surprised that the city of Hawthorne has let it sit there all these years and continued to allow this Urban decay to drag down this once “All American town” A bare empty lot would be more inviting. Hawthorne is a great location, close to the beach, and will always have the potential of being restored to its previous thriving middle class status. If the city would take a little responsibility and at the very least tear down these abandoned buildings, making that potential a bit easier to see. Perhaps people who can’t afford to buy homes that close to the beach would be more willing to start buying homes in the area and restoring them to their previous middle class status.

  41. Yup, I remember Hawthorne Plaza. I remember driving past with my mom one night just before it opened. I heard they were having a private champaign/dance to celebrate it’s opening and I wanted to see all the people. It was a neat place, it was our small community and our own stylish mall for us 1970’s mall rats (yes there were mall rats before the 80s). Even though I was actually attacked inside the Montgomery Wards back in broad daylight, I can still remember the good times with friends there, walking through there at Christmas time. Someone mentioned the old game arcade upstairs and I remember that now too. Our main destination of the day there was the Wherehouse and Sam Goodys. Silly odd memories there like seeing Star Wars when it was new and sitting through it 3 times… ear piercing and ugh my first job ever at Carl’s Jr. It’s sad to see it go, but the freeway and undesirable elements did start moving south long ago, and it’s not even a place I’d ever go again. Drove back a few years ago and I felt like a ghost, looking back at a strange place I once knew (1967-1988) and grew up in, now unsettling and unsafe… even going back to Torrance now after being out of the South Bay for 20 years feels different and just not a place to be. The person complaining about owning property across from an abandoned mall, that’s the breaks. Sell and move on if it bothers you – it’s urban decay. This isn’t NYC and we don’t value the older buildings and neighborhoods like they do. I saw it coming when I moved to Redondo Beach in 1988 and got the heck out.

    Thanks for the pictures! Too bad there can’t be a resurgence of the great malls.

    • I remember Christmas 1977 I was volunteering to wrap presents with Leuzinger’s German Club. I was only 15 years old and a tenth grader. I spent some evenings with boyfriend wandering around looking at shops. I moved away from Hawthorne in 1978 and returned once in 1981 but didn’t see the mall the same. It is sad what happened to Hawthorne Plaza.

  42. I was in school at Leuzinger High when when the mall was built. My best friend and I used to walk there after school almost everyday. People watching in the front booth of Carl’s Jr. with the 2 way mirror. Flipping through the discount record bins at the Wherehouse. I saw Star Wars episode IV at the Hawthorne 6 theatres. It’s crazy that it should have died so quickly, and be allowed to just rot.

  43. I left Hawthorne in 82, haven’t been back since the early ’90s. I used to live by the tracks across from Northrop and often walked down the tracks to HHS right by the mall, and used to go to the arcade there a lot. Sad to see an old hangout in this state.

  44. Tear it down! Duplicate the original street plan w/ the three circle parks and affordable housing. Create a small commercial area and rebuild the Plaza Theater!

  45. I agree, that the mall should be torn down, Yes the land should be used in a way to pay homage to the roots of Hawthorne. But, sadly now they are talking about putting a casino into Hawthorne. More corruption, and greed, and who suffers? The citizens of Hawthorne.
    I say Bring back the circle parks! Bring back the cute little shops! Bring back the cute little single family homes!

  46. Pingback: Go Inside The Creepy Abandoned Mall Featured In 'Gone Girl' | Business Insider

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