Century III Mall
THE SADDEST THING YOU WILL SEE TODAY
by Meg Stefanac
November 29, 2015
(Please note: There is now a follow-up article you can read here.)
Century III in the Glory Days - West MIfflin, PA
Century III Mall... The name of the building conjures memories of happy and mispent days gone by. Built in 1979, it was THE place to be for those living in the South Hills of Pittsburgh in the 80's. As a member of the Baldwin High School Class of '87, it is little wonder that I spent a lot of time here.
Century III Mall was huge. It put South Hills Village to shame and we pitied those who had to live their lives without such a mall nearby. It was always crowded and bustling, and it was frequently difficult to quickly work your way across as you navigated through a sea of neon clothing and big hair held firmly in place with Aqua Net.
I was a photographer for my high school newspaper and yearbook. One of my assignments was to wander through the mall on Black Friday Weekend and take pictures of any Baldwin students I saw shopping there. It was easy to find classmates, but the assignment required a lot of patience because the mall was a madhouse and I was worried about damaging my expensive Nikon FM.
The Saddest Pictures I've Taken This Year
I was going to call this article "The Saddest Thing You'll See this Year," but that seemed a bit hyperbolic. I truly hope that for most people who are reading this that the pictures that follow really ARE the saddest things you've had to experience so far in 2015.
Today is November 29, 2015. Sunday in the what is supposed to be the busiest shopping weekend of the year. My husband, Dave, and I were in West Mifflin and decided to take a stop into Century III Mall for old times' sake. You know, just to take a look around and relive some happy memories. Yes, I still live in the Pittsburgh area, but with a number of other stores much closer to my house, I rarely venture out to West Mifflin to do my shopping.
What I saw while in the mall was, in a word, unbelievable. It was so surreal, I had to grab my phone and start taking pictures. (And oh how I wish that we'd had camera phones in the 80's so that I'd actually have some Before Pictures -- pictures taken in the mall back when it was alive and well).
Here is what we saw:
(It is worth noting that a few people have contacted me to inform me that the anchor stores at the mall are doing fairly good business. However, as is evidenced by the pictures that follow, the traffic these stores are bringing in is simply not filtering into the main part of the mall.)
The Parking Lot
If you used to shop at Century III in the 80's, you know how difficult it was to get a decent parking space -- especially in the weeks before Christmas. And, of course, the covered bit of parking, outside of Sears, was the most coveted parking area of all since you could avoid a hot car in the summer, not worry about a snow-covered car in the winter, and best of all, never have to deal with water hitting your Aqua-Netted hair on the rainy days. (Any child of the 80's remembers what THAT smelled like!)
Today, the primo parking spots are pretty easy to get:
The Food Court
The food court was always insanely busy. You were lucky if you could find a table that you and your friends could all cram around. That is no longer a problem -- also, there are now only four food vendors still open. By the way, these pictures were taken at around 1:00 in the afternoon.
The New Carousel
This new carousel is a very nice touch. It would be even nicer if people were actually there to ride it.
The Old Arcade
To my surprise, the spot in the mall where I fed countless quarters into Miss Pac-Man and Donkey Kong machines is still an arcade.
Scenes of Emptiness and Desolation
I did not go out of my way to avoid catching people in my photos. This is really what the mall looked like. And yes, it is open! These scenes would have been unimaginable in my teenage years.
Good bye, Century III Mall. It was nice to have known you.
Pleae note, I revisted the mall the following Sunday and wrote a follow-up article. You can read it here.