Southern California’s first open-air shopping mall opened in 1952. The center was built in the post-WW II boomtown of Lakewood, California, which made the transition from lima bean fields to a major, big city suburb in less than ten years. To make living in Lakewood more convenient, LAKEWOOD CENTER was built. The mall sits on a 154 acre tract and has parking accommodations for over 10,000 cars. For its first two years of operation, Lakewood Center was the nation’s largest shopping center. The original mall featured over one hundred stores.
The sprawling complex had, at its center, a four-level, 350,000 square foot, May Company department store. The mall also had a Woolworth 5 and 10 and Save-on supermarket. A second anchor store, and second supermarket, were situated at either end of a pedestrian mall, which bisected the center.
The mall was enclosed in the late 1980′s. A subsequent renovation was done in 2000-2001, which added a new wing at the rear, with a food court on a second level. Two department stores were added along with this addition. The present-day mall is anchored by Macy’s, Mervyn’s, J.C. Penney and Target. It features 2,121,000 square feet of leasable area, and has two hundred and seventy retail spaces. Sixty-four of these are outparcel stores that are adjacent to the mall but not within the enclosed structure.
As of 2006, Lakewood Center Mall is the twelfth largest shopping mall in the United States.