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