Saturday, May 10, 2014

Sherman Oaks Galleria 1981 floor plan

Jeeze, do I have to do everything myself?

Since I didn't have the chance to see it in person before it was torn down, I was curious about what the Sherman Oaks Galleria looked like--how big it was, what stores were there, how it was laid out. I found about a dozen photos online, but a floor plan doesn't seem to exist.

Why I care: the Sherman Oaks Galleria was synonymous with the mall culture of the early '80s. "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" was shot there. The song "Valley Girl" was written about it. It was not a large mall; it was not unique; its popularity was fleeting. But I'm a pop culture buff and an urban archaeology buff.

So...here's my floor plan of the top floor of the Sherman Oaks Galleria from late 1981, when "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" was filmed there.


As you can see, it's a complicated layout with relatively few 90-degree angles! I drew the exterior dimensions based on a Google Earth image from 1994. The skylight location and shape were key, as they provided the necessary clues for the rest of the map.


I mapped the interior based on old photos I found online and from watching "Fast Times" and obsessively pausing and rewinding during the mall scenes. I could determine north and south from the shape of the skylight in the photos--the north end was stepped, the south end was more pointed. Here are a few old photos, for context.

First floor, looking north (toward food court on third floor):


Second floor, looking southeast from behind the staircases:


Another second-floor view looking southeast, from in front of the staircases:


From the opening credits of "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," looking east-northeast into the food court:



Pacific 4 Theatres, which was on the opposite side of the food court:


Here are a few more images from a photographer's site.

Finally, I filled in a few missing pieces by watching the Arnold Schwarzenneger movie, "Commando," which was shot there in 1985. (It also showed a few stores that weren't there in 1981, like Smooth Moves Frozen Yogurt in the food court, the Thai fast-food restaurant (barely distinguishable in the background of the photo below), which replaced Belgian Waffle, and Kirwins Restaurant & Bar (seen in the second photo below), which appears to have replaced an Eyeglasses store that was in that location in a 1981 photo.



Somebody who grew up in the Valley in the '80s can chime in on whatever I missed. There were some mysteries, like where exactly the arcade was. In the scene below from "Fast Times," there's a banner on the wall in the background during that scene that says, unconvincingly, "Mall Arcade," leading me to suspect that it was only there for the movie.


The same area can be seen in the shot below (from "Commando")--note the exit door just to the right of Swensen's--same door as the photo above. You can make out the Time Out arcade sign (where the "Mall Arcade" banner is in the photo above) and Papa's Famous right next to it, neither of which is seen in "Fast Times." So clearly there was an arcade in there somewhere, at least by 1985.


And then we have this final incongruity: a photo of Time Out supposedly from 1981, which appears to be a much larger storefront, has a different sign font, and is not seen in either movie. So...three arcades, three different signs.


Okay, my work here is done. Farewell, Galleria. Our collective memory (not to mention cultural literacy) has been restored and preserved.

What's that? No, no, I'm perfectly normal. Why do you ask?

18 comments:

  1. Good Work! I often wondered if any of the original Galleria was left. Unfortunately I seen that it is all but a memory. I wish that I had had the vision to visit the mall when I was out west in 1993. Thanks for helping to preserve the memory and the layout of the original mall.

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  2. Wow. Cool little dealy you got here. Didnt know it was gone. I moved away for good after the quake in 94 so yeah.... last time i wentt there was to see the film legend. 86? .... anyhow i was trying to remember / look up the name of the "new wave" store On the second floor in 1981 just now and saw this thing, hoping it would have that info. .. arcade was top floor behind most of the food court. Great arcade.

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  3. Thank you for this! I believe the staircase may still be there. I was there today as was thinking it is the staircase now right when you get the the parking structure. Can anyone confirm this?

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    1. As far as I know the entire original mall was completed razed and rebuilt. But the parking structure may be a different story.

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  4. Love this post and thank you for figuring out the layout of the old mall. I've been doing a lot of research today on the old mall today and I found something you might be interested in: a video montage of the mall, filmed (I think) in the mid-1980s: http://sma.sciarc.edu/video/tom-scarin/

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    1. Great stuff. It's labeled Jan 1, 1984. It provided a bit more detail on the west side between the jewelry repair and the movie theater, but too grainy to make out the store names. Ah, early VHS.

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    2. i use to hang out there all the time

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    3. and now i work there at the arc light

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    4. The link no longer works. Is it available elsewhere?

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  5. The Time Out arcade was in the food court area on the top floor, between Perry's Pizza, and a row of little food stands. The food stand on the end of that row was the NY Deli, where I used to get Dr Brown's cream soda as a kid. I grew up 5 blocks away and have many memories there, but the store locations are a bit spotty in my mind. I remember the locations of Judy's, the pet store, Hallmark (next to the movie theatre), Au Cotton clothing store, and the toy store. Wish it was still there in its 80s glory, but the only structure still standing is the parking structure, as a result of the 1994 Northridge Earthquake.

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  6. Great job putting all of this together!! I lived in Valencia but worked at Sherman Oaks Galleria 85-87 Windsor Fashion on the bottom floor right I front Of the wide spiral staircase, many actors came in while I was working. It was the place to shop mid 80's!!! The original make of the Guess Store was across from where I worked which I think was called George Marchinno? Thanks for bringing back memories :). Sandy Pflug Maxwell

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  7. Pretty crazy but my parents owned the Chinese little eating place.. pretty cool to see it in the movie when I was a child

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  8. Todd, thanks for researching and putting together this great information. I'm currently writing a blog post about the story of the Sherman Oaks Galleria from a real estate perspective. Would you mind if I used your photos and site plan in the blog post?
    Thanks, Josh

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    1. I visited from Chicago back in 1993. What was the name of the book store? I believe it was on the 2nd floor.

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  9. I spent my entire childhood in this mall. I grew up in it, wandering the mall, going shop to shop on Halloween, and spending a LOT of time at the Time Out arcade. I do remember it was originally not by the food court, and its original location was much larger than the final location by the food court. I was actually happy when it moved by the food court, because we could easily grab food between games. My favorite joint was Kaboby, and to this day if I see a Kabob restaurant in a mall, I always get it for pure nostalgia. Interestingly enough, the food court was not the only food there. A big hang out spot was the McDonalds one floor below as it had a nice dining area with a view, and if I remember correctly it even had an outdoor eating area as well.

    Toward the end of the mall's life, I had my very first date in the Pacific 4 theater back in 1996. We watched The Substitute. I know horrible movie for a first date, but give me a break I was 16! I do remember there being very little stores remaining at this time, and it was nowhere near the same popularity as a hang out by this time. Even the time out arcade would be empty as the arcade culture died out. One of the few remaining arcades still in the valley is the Sherman Oaks Castle park right down the street from the Galleria.

    Thanks for this page. It is great to see my old stomping ground. Just for a bit of information, the parking structure is still the same for the most part. Also, the Arclite theater is actually located in the upper levels of what used to be the Robinson's store on your map. So at least that section of the original mall still exists, and I believe that is the only structure from the original mall that remains.

    ~Brandon

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    1. Great info, Brandon. That may solve the mystery of the photo of the larger Time Out arcade that was obviously not taken near the food court.

      FYI on the ArcLight--it is in fact right where you say (upstairs of old Robinson's), but the entire mall structure minus parking garage was completely razed. You can see the timelapse of the remodel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kU5AhXuNHE

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  10. Does anyone happen to know what year Perry"s Pizza went out of business?
    Just a HUGE fan of Fast Times..
    Thx-

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