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Location DB > United States > Illinois > Harvey > Dixie Square Mall
Dixie Square Mall
 Viewing Options
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 Database Info
created by abacab on 10/11/2006 1:18 AM
last modified by jonrev on 6/2/2012 8:26 AM
Publically Viewable Publically Viewable
This location has been labeled as Demolished, and therefore can be viewed by anyone.
An 800,000 square-foot regional shopping mall, which sadly, has been abandoned since 1978.
 Basic Information
Type: Building
Status: Demolished
Accessibility: Easy
Recommendation: drop everything - must see
 Physical Information
15201 Dixie Highway
Harvey, Illinois
United States
Owner: It depends on the day.
  • See a map of this location
  •  Hazards
  • asbestos
  • rust
  • unsafe flooring
  • flooding
  • water
  • air quality
  • Glass, nails, wild dogs!
  •  Interesting Features
    A mall frozen in 1978 and severely trashed. Fortunately many treasures are to be found throughout, including gaudy 70's decor, old signs, fixtures, and even merchandise!
     Security Measures
  • fences
  • wooden boarding
  • Police station nearby.
  •  Historical Dates
    Built: 1966
    Closed: 1978
     Required Equipment
  • flashlight
  • breathing mask
  •  Recommended Equipment
    Construction boots.
    Harvey Illinois is a suburb of Chicago located south of the city. Between 1920 and 1960 the city flourished with industrial development, and quickly became a working-class town with many modest residences.

    In 1961 it was proposed to build a large indoor shopping mall on a 60 acre site occupied by a declining golf course. By 1964 construction began on the mall which was to include 41 stores and two major anchors. The first store to open was Montgomery Wards in 1965. The next year saw the opening of the remainder of the mall including a Walgreen's, JC Penney and Jewel grocery store.

    Almost simultaneously the economy of Harvey began to decline with the closure of industrial properties. This did not disuade the owners of Dixie Square from adding a third anchor store, Turnstyle Family Centre, in 1970.

    As the 1970's rolled along the city of Harvey was in the midst of a huge economic upheaval. As factory workers left the city, residents from poor areas of Chicago found the relatively inexpensive houses of Harvey attractive. Unfortunately this also gave rise to the local crime rate, and Dixie Square was not immune. In 1972 and 1973 botched robberies led to two murders, while another took place as a woman was shot in her car by 4 youths while on her way to the mall. Also in 1973 a teenage girl was lured from the mall, tortured and strangled.

    In 1976 a desperate attempt at luring shoppers to Dixie Square was undertaken. The mall underwent a major renovation, but this was not enough to stop the exodus of shoppers to other safer malls. At the start of 1978 only 20 tenants remained, and the entire Turnstyle chain went out of business. While other Turnstyle locations were quickly replaced with other anchors, the one at Dixie Square was not.

    The next fatal blow would be the departure of JC Penney early in 1978, followed by Wards in November 1978. At this time the mall itself closed with only Walgreens and Jewel still operating with their own outside entrances. In early 1979 they left as well, the entire mall being deserted.

    In July of 1979, Dixie Square finally got it's 15 minutes of fame, despite being closed. Parts of the mall were temporarily redecorated and embellished as part of the set for the Blues Brothers movie. "Fake" stores were created for the filming, including Toy's 'R Us, which never actually had a location there. The famous mall car chase scene was shot here, and it provides excellent footage of what the mall would have looked like in it's final days. After the filming was over, the mall was vacated once again, this time for good.

    In the mid-80's vandals broke into the mall and destroyed every pane of glass they could find. This was the beginning of the slow decay of the vacant structure that still continues to this day. As scheme after scheme for redevelopment fell through, more and more vandals destroyed the interior of the mall. In 1989 Mike Bargerhuff photographed portions of the mall, which compared to now, seemed to be in pretty good shape. With the mall now being over 20 years old, the original roof would have begun to leak causing water damage inside, and eventually portions of the roof began to collapse, further compounding the problem.

    In 2005 the Montgomery Ward store was sold to American Kitchen Delights, a manufacturer of airline food, who planned to use the building as a warehouse. Workers began to push all of the debris from the store into the mall's former main entrance, however this was stopped after asbestos was found in the debris. The rest of the property was sold to developer John Deneen, who planned to redevelop the land with new big-box retailers. The YMCA also began constructing senior housing on the southeast corner of the property near TurnStyle.

    On Christmas Eve 2005, illegal demolition began on Dixie Square in the middle of the night. About 60% of Montgomery Wards, which had been purchased by American Kitchen Delights earlier in the year, was destroyed before Mayor Eric Kellogg happened to be driving by the mall and ordered work to be stopped, informing crews they had demolished the wrong building.

    After days of finger pointing, it was determined that the Wards building had actually been sold to two different people; AKD, and John Deneen. Deneen eventually acquired the entire property, and in March of 2006 re-started a heavily publicized demolition by leveling the rest of the Wards building, the Central Energy Plant, and the mall's former Main Entrance. However it seems once the media left, so did demolition crews.

    By this point, Deneen was out of funds to continue asbestos removal, and his waterpark project in Dolton had also stopped. Deneen would later be arrested on charges of harassing United Demolition; with loaded weapons and ski-masks claimed to have been found in his car. With Deneen still presumably behind bars, Dixie's future once again remains up in the air.

    The remainder of the mall is left wide open and accessible to anyone. Even the Harvey Police with their headquarters in part of the former parking lot, didn't seem too intent on stopping trespassers. The largest threat to visitors is now the wild dogs that roam the site.

    Beginning in 2005, filmmaker Paul McVay took on the enormous task of creating a documentary film on Dixie Square. In 2009, however, just about all of his work had vanished from the internet; though efforts to document the mall's final years continued through a massive internet following that came in the wake of McVay & co.'s work.

    In 2008 the second floor of JCPenney began to collapse, and by 2010 about 45% of the second floor had crashed to the ground. In 2009 the scavengers returned to Dixie Square and most of the mall's remaining signage was gone by the end of the year.

    After years of bureaucratic holdups, demolition finally began in early 2012, with the last girders falling in May.
     Media Coverage
    February 2010 Redevelopment News:
     Future Plans
    Demolished in early 2012; no redevelopment plans are known for the site.

    Add your own story
     Photo Galleries
    Click to view gallery
    Paul McVay's Photos
    Wed, Oct 11th, 2006
    posted by abacab
    10 pictures
    Click to view gallery
    Historical Stuff
    Sat, Jan 13th, 2007
    posted by abacab
    6 pictures

    Add your own photos

    Mark all galleries as Seen
     Web Links
    Jean-Francois Brulotte's site:

    The Blue Brothers car chase scene:

    Ghost Mall & City Life Disco

    Edit this Location
     Moderator Rating
    The moderator rating is a neutral rating of the content quality, photography, and coolness of this location.

    This location has not yet been rated by a moderator.
    This location's validation is current. It was last validated by Avatar-X on 4/30/2013 7:43 PM.

     Latest Changes
  • on Apr 30 13 at 19:43, Avatar-X validated this location
  • on Apr 30 13 at 19:43, Avatar-X deleted a story
  • on Aug 14 12 at 8:01, Opheliaism validated this location
  • on Aug 13 12 at 0:00, blaistom77 updated a story
  • on Aug 12 12 at 23:59, blaistom77 updated a story
  • on Aug 12 12 at 23:59, blaistom77 updated a story
  • on Aug 12 12 at 23:53, blaistom77 created a new story
  • on Jun 5 12 at 17:51, Opheliaism validated this location
  • on Jun 2 12 at 8:26, jonrev changed the following: History, Status, Security Measures, Future Plans, Web Links
  • on Feb 23 12 at 16:33, Opheliaism validated this location
  •  Forum Threads about this Location
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     SubjectStarted ByRepliesViewsLast Post
    You must log in for this feature to work.JONREV Do you know?blaistom77114365/17/2013 8:18 AM by jonrev
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