Archive for the ‘Woodfield Mall’ Category


April 16, 2017

In the summers of 1977 and 1978 Steven Wilson was a young man working at McDonalds in Woodfield Mall.  It was a seasonal job and, in his spare time, he indulged his appreciation of the architecture of the mall with his recent interest in 35mm photography.

With Mr. Wilson’s permission it is a pleasure to share some of his photos with the blog’s readers.  You can view the photos on his Flickr account and see the grandeur of Woodfield Mall’s Center Court during that time.

Take note of the iconic piece of art that hung from the ceiling over Center Court.  It has been gone for a while but the colors obviously worked with those of the carpeting.  The same colors and elements of the design were also thematically reflected in the Woodfield Water Tower.  It was obviously a planned theme.

Also interesting to note are the geometric themes carried out in the sunken stage, the ceiling and the art work.  And, of course, you get a good view of the fountain, the crosswalks and the double escalators.

As far as stores go, I see Holland Jewelers, Johnson & Murphy shoes and Regal Shoes.  Do you spot any other stores that you recognize?  What, for instance, is the store next to Holland?  Or the store that has rainbow colors to the right of Johnson & Murphy?  If you can help with any names, it would be appreciated.

Many thanks to Mr. Wilson, author of the soon-to-be published Six Flags Great America, for these great photos.  We are fortunate he picked up a photography hobby at the same time he was making Big Macs and french fries!

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library


August 28, 2016

Last fall the Schaumburg Township Historical Society received a phone call from the Arnold family about a collection of photos they took in the early 1970s.  The pictures of early Schaumburg had sat in a drawer for the past forty years and they were hoping to pass them on to someone who might be interested.  The Historical Society gladly accepted the photos and then kindly donated them to the library to add to our Local History Collection.

The story of these photos begins in 1971 when the Arnold family moved to Schaumburg from southern California.  They were surprised at the amount of open space in Schaumburg Township still occupied by farm fields and undeveloped acreage.  Mrs. Arnold said, “We were amazed at all the open field but knew that wouldn’t last long.  I decided to take pictures of the ‘before’ of Schaumburg.”  She then began to drive the roads of Schaumburg, taking photos of various buildings and intersections.

One of the areas that Mrs. Arnold photographed was of Meacham, Golf and Higgins Road.  Below are a few of those photos.


Meacham Road between Golf and Higgins—looking east towards the Woodfield area.

The year is 1973.  Woodfield Mall, in the background, opened two years ago in 1971 along with the water tower that was necessary for the mall’s development.  The distinctive orange and yellow globe is sitting by itself with the skeleton of one of the first multi-story office buildings near it.  Two cranes loom over the structure and appear to dwarf the trees to their left.  Notice that the road is two lanes and has suffered through the winter.


Looking southwest on Meacham with the Bar Harbor Condominiums in the background.

The first condos of the area were begun in 1971 and were originally designed as four ten-story buildings, later scaled down to five seven and eight-story buildings and eventually opened in 1972 as two five-story buildings.  They were developed by Elmer Gleich.


Looking northeast at the corner of Meacham and Higgins.

The photographer is on Meacham Road, looking through the crossing at Higgins Road.  The intersection has clearly been widened in anticipation of both Woodfield Mall and the development that is to come.  There is traffic but it is certainly not overwhelming the intersection.  Also, note the overhead power lines that are no longer in existence.  Another skeletal office building is under development in the background and is the first of three office buildings that will be Woodfield Park Office Plaza.


Looking south at Meacham Road between Golf & Higgins Road.

This a rather bleak photo that exemplifies how much Schaumburg grew in the future.  The roads are empty and in need of repair.  Utility poles line the road.  A few trees dot the horizon and the area seems to already have been set aside for commercial and business development.


Meacham Road between Golf and Higgins Road.

Woodfield Mall can be seen in the distance–with nothing around it.  The brown brick of the J C Penney wing is to the left with the white brick of center court and the rest of the mall to the right.


Meacham Road looking north between Golf and Higgins.

The American Savings Association building shown above opened on September 29, 1972 on the west side of Meacham Road.  According to local architect Jeff Whyte, it is a nice example of the 1970s modernism style.   It remained American Savings until Weber Grill bought the property.  The building was demolished to make way for the restaurant that opened in 2005.   The tan buildings in the background are that of the Woodfield Commons shopping center.  Turn Style was one of their first anchors.


Meacham Road looking northeast between Golf and Higgins.

This is the first of the three Woodfield Park Office Plaza buildings.  The owner and developer of the 385,000 square-foot complex was J. Emil Anderson & Son, Inc. of Des Plaines, IL.  The three identical buildings that make up the plaza are “pre-cast concrete structures sheathed in dark reflective glass.”   [Commercial Renovation: How to Acquire, Renovate, and Remarket Existing Properties by Matthew Kiell and John Casazza]  The buildings were later renamed National Plaza at Woodfield.  Below is a later photo of one of the completed buildings.

Plaza Drive

Take a look at this photo from the collection of the University of Illinois at Chicago.  It is a view of the first Plaza/Zurich Tower going up in 1985.  You can see one of the completed Woodfield Park Office Plaza buildings as well as the American Savings Association edifice in the background.


Looking north on Meacham Road between Willow and Schaumburg Roads.

Again, the emptiness of the surroundings is very evident.  It certainly clarifies why the Arnolds were so intrigued with the huge swaths of vacant fields separating Woodfield Mall and the residential areas of Hoffman Estates and Schaumburg to the west.

We know what the “after” of the greater Woodfield area looks like but, thanks to the Arnolds, we now have a good idea of what the “before” looks like too!

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library








March 6, 2016

Happy Birthday Schaumburg!  You’re turning 60 this year on March 7, 2016 and we’re happy to celebrate with you!

In honor of your birthday year, we’re doing a monthly blog posting based on some of our favorite things about you.

During the month of March we’re asking the readers of this blog to share their favorite memory about Woodfield Mall.  The shopping center opened in 1971 and has been one of the cornerstones of the community.  People have flocked to the mall for the variety of stores, the restaurants and the various events that have been held in the stores and Center Court.  woodfield main atrium 1971

If you have a favorite memory about Woodfield, please do share it in the comments below.  Maybe it’s a restaurant that is gone but not forgotten?  Or a store that carried your favorite brand of clothes?  Or you were one of the lucky ones who saw John Travolta in his appearance at the mall?  Whatever that memory may be, we’d love to hear from you!

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library


April 26, 2015

Of all the postings on this local history blog, it is Woodfield Mall that has generated the most comments.  It is a shopping center that was ahead of its time and, certainly, of its place.  And it is obviously much loved by those who grew up or lived in Schaumburg Township.  Woodfield

It is sad to report, therefore, that Alfred Taubman, president of the Taubman Company that drove the actual development of the building, died on Friday, April 17, 2015 at his home in Bloomfield Hills, MI.

From all accounts, Mr. Taubman was very engaged in the development of his company’s malls.  After serving in World War II, he returned to his home state and the University of Michigan to study architecture, and later transferred to Lawrence Institute of Technology.  Leaving that institution, he went to work as a draftsman for noted Detroit architect, Charles N. Agree.  In 1950 he started a real estate development firm that began specializing in the building of strip malls and, later, enclosed malls.  [“A. Alfred Taubman’s Life Through The Years.” Detroit Free PressApril 18, 2015.]

It was his architecture background that influenced the malls he built.  According to an article from the April 18, 2015 edition of Women’s Wear Daily, he “pioneered regional, upscale centers with skylights, terrazzo floors, brass railings, landscaping and split-level parking as well as food courts and movie theaters.”  Sound familiar?

The article also says, “He could be daring.  In 1971, Taubman, anticipating the great growth that would come to the northwest suburbs of Chicago, opened the mega two-million-square-foot Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, Ill., which at the time had a population of only 18,000.” He was clearly progressive and bold, seeing that people were ready for one-stop shopping.  It was also apparent to him that shoppers were eager to make purchases in their own backyard instead of making a trip to a downtown location that required planning and much walking outside.

Woodfield Mall began its own journey in the early 1960s as Schaumburg Mayor Robert Atcher, the Village Board and Zoning Board began designating the area near the Northwest Tollway and Route 53 as a locale for commercial development.  The Homart Division of Sears Roebuck gradually became interested in the property and the village encouraged that interest by annexing the land in 1964.  Taubman Company became part of the mix when they entered a joint venture in 1967 with Sears’ Homart, calling themselves Woodfield Associates.  Construction began in 1969 and on September 9, 1971, the multi-level, largest-of-its-kind mall opened.  It continued to hold that distinction of biggest mall in America for a number of years to come.

Mr. Taubman, himself, was engaged in many ventures and was quite a diverse investor.  He was the lead owner of the former USFL Michigan Panthers football team.  He also bought the Woodward & Lathrop and Wanamaker’s Department Stores.  In 1982 he bought the A&W Restaurants chain and, a year later, Sotheby’s auction house.  His philanthropic generosity was sizable and included, but is not limited to:  Brown University, Harvard University and the schools he attended–Lawrence Institute and the University of Michigan where he still holds the distinction of being their largest donor in history.

We are fortunate that Mr. Taubman was part of the vision that is Woodfield Mall today.  In September 2015 it will be 44 years since the debut of a shopping center that was, at the time, largely surrounded by farm land and a few connecting roads.  Today it is a hub in the northwest suburbs, if not all of Chicagoland.  It is quite a long-standing testament to such a unique individual.  Thank you Mr. Taubman.

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

An undated article entitled “1971:  Dream, Plan Take Shape in Concrete”  by Drew Davis from the Schaumburg Voice assisted me in the writing of the paragraph on the history of Woodfield Mall.



March 29, 2015








With the renovation of Woodfield Mall starting soon, an interesting thought occurred to some of us.

To all of the readers of this blog and/or former shoppers and employees of Woodfield, my question is:  Outside of the three anchors of J C Penney, Sears and Marshall Fields/Macy, what is the oldest store/restaurant/business in Woodfield Mall today?

I have some guesses about these long-lived establishments but it would be nice to see what you think.  And know.  Maybe you worked as a teenager in a business that’s still going strong?  Or have been eating there for a long time?  Or stop in every time you go to Woodfield?

Leave a comment and let’s see if we can come to a consensus…

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library


January 11, 2015


In case you haven’t heard, Woodfield Mall is scheduled to be renovated this year for the first time since 1995 when Nordstrom’s  and 49 other stores were added.

For those of you interested in looking at the Woodfield of your childhood, you might want to take a look at the Chicago Tribune’s story here.   The story includes a nice slideshow of photos of Woodfield during construction and over the years.

There are a couple of great photos of Center Court during Christmas and of the designer home that was set up every year.  There are even stores seen that haven’t been mentioned on this blog (J. Riggings anyone?)  Maybe you’ll recognize some of the kids in the photos too. Best of all, you can even find a photo of the beloved waterfall!

Lastly, the aerial photo at the end that shows the mall in the early 1990s when the Pure Oil property with its circular configuration to the north had yet to be transformed into Woodfield Village Green, really brings home what an amazing feat it was to develop this mall in the middle of the fields of Schaumburg Township.

Take a look and report back!

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library



December 7, 2014



Woodfield Christmas

If you’ve spent any time at all in the Schaumburg Township area during the holiday season, Woodfield Mall is a must visit.  Center Court is always completely bedecked with lavish decorations, the various wings are full of shoppers  and Santa can be found in his chair during most of the hours the mall is open.

Recently one of my fellow librarians found this commercial  on the website of the Museum of Classic Chicago Television.  The commercial advertises Woodfield Mall at Christmastime and aired on November 14, 1984.  It featured a number of items that were ideal gifts for their shoppers and is a true 1980s theme with Izod shirts, boom boxes and square-faced watches.  (Which of the perfume bottles do you recognize??)

Please take note, too, of the “We Have It All” theme running through the commercial.  And, of course, they always recognize their anchor stores.  Note how they flash past you at the end–J C Penney, Sears, Lord & Taylor and Marshall Fields.

What are your favorite Christmas memories of Woodfield Mall?  Sitting on Santa’s lap?  Madly rushing around to find the perfect gift(s) on Christmas Eve?  Going to the theater on Christmas Day?  Or, something so simple as finding the perfect parking place up close?  We’d love to hear.  Or, maybe, tell us your favorite gift from Woodfield Mall.  Don’t we all have one?!?

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library



July 20, 2014


Woodfield Mall has never had a formal food court.   In the early 1970s, though, there was a restaurant that came mighty close to the real thing.  It was called International Park and was owned under the auspices of International Cafes Inc.

As a result of a bit of give and take in the comments on the Woodfield Mall Opening Day posting, a couple of posters provided us with additional information.  Kassie said that stepping into the International Park restaurant on the lower level next to the ice skating rink gave you many dining choices.  A Coney Island section enticed you with a selection of hot dogs and cotton candy.  There was a hamburger grill, a counter for Chinese food, another area for standard American fare and yet another spot that gave you the chance to indulge in Italian favorites.

Peggy said the restaurant was owned by Don Linn.  Both women are former employees and, between the two of them, mentioned that he owned other stores at the mall including The Alley, Luv Is and Rags to Riches.  Cindy, who also worked for Mr. Linn, said he owned a candle store next to the The Alley called Light My Fire.  She said that as an employee in the early 70’s, they were required to work The Alley, Luv Is and Light My Fire on a rotational basis.

The chef was Joe Trocolli and he was in charge of the kitchen.  The restaurant opened in August or September 1971 and, according to their ad in the Daily Herald, International Park was their “new concept operation.”

Peggy also shared these photos with us from the International Park.  The first shows a group of employees relaxing after a long shift at the restaurant.  Clearly, red and white striped shirts and aprons were part of the uniform.

This is a scan of her pay stub.  She was paid $1.70 an hour and managed to get 34.75 hours during the pay period.  This was in January so the mall was doing well during the long winter months.  image (2)The store endured until late 1976 or into 1977.  The last mention I could find was in a November 1976 classified ad looking for new employees.  Maybe someone else can contribute more information to the story of this early food court-styled restaurant at Woodfield Mall?

Many thanks to Peggy and Kassie for sharing their memories and photos from their days of working at International Park.  Contributions such as theirs make this blog fun and valuable to the Schaumburg Township memory bank.

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library



May 11, 2014

4093A while back I did a blog posting on the Woodfield Water Tower.  Johnny Kunzer, one of the readers of the blog, found it and wanted to update it with this photo he took in August, 1985.

By this time, the tower was 14 years old, having been built in 1971 at the same time Woodfield was under construction.  This paint job, with its 1970s earth tone colors, was the first incarnation.  This was also ten years before it was completely renovated in 1995.

The photo clearly shows some wear and tear on the tower so it has to be considered that there was either an interim paint job or some patching work that was done.

Johnny also pointed out that the Schaumburg Corporate Center at Higgins and Meacham is also under construction in the background.

This photo is a great indication of the treasures people have.  Not only is it a great photo of the water tower, but the background also supplies us with details that we might not have.  Please keep the library in mind when you’re going through your old photos and documents.  I am always happy to incorporate them into the library’s archives or make use of them on this blog.  Sharing them with everyone can bring forth a lot of good memories and details that might otherwise not be recorded!

Thank you Johnny!

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library


April 20, 2014

Recently I was asked if I have a list of the famous people who have appeared at Woodfield Mall over the years.

Of course there were these celebrities that kicked off the opening of Woodfield on September 9, 1971.

Woodfield mallThey were Vincent Price and Carol Lawrence.

And then there was the rock group KISS that I recently wrote about.  They were here for the great Kiss-off on June 8, 1974.

That same year on October 2, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra also gave a performance.  I wrote about that one too.

The other two appearances that I’m familiar with and have yet to write about happened in 1976.  John Travolta paid a visit to an absolutely jam-packed Woodfield Mall on May 6.  Later in October, President Gerald Ford made a campaign stop during the presidential election.

Then, in a 20th anniversary special issue of Woodfield that was done by the Daily Herald, it was mentioned that Rick Springfield appeared at the mall in 1981.  Other appearances in the article include Ernie Banks, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Imogene Coca and the New Kids on the Block.     

Who am I missing?  Was there someone you paid a visit to see at one of the stores?  Or that the mall sponsored in Central Court?  If you know of someone who hasn’t been mentioned, I would really appreciate your comment.  Thank you for any assistance you can provide!

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library