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A Walking Tour in Pictures: The Final Days of White Flint Mall

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For shoppers and teenagers in Montgomery County, there was a time when White Flint Mall was the spot. The place to be.  The bee’s knees.

When the first six White Flint stores opened in early March of 1977, it was still a time of innovation for shopping malls. Just before the opening, the mall’s owners announced that they would issue a White Flint Mall credit card, the first of its kind, mailing 100,000 applications to Montgomery County residents. A Washington Post story heralded “a 20,000-square-foot, cafe-style dining facility that offers fast-food service from 12 different nationalities.” Today we call it a food court. 

America and Maryland were already well familiar with shopping malls but White Flint had Bloomingdale’s, Lord & Taylor and I. Magnin. There were dazzling glass elevators and a strip made to look like an Italian streetscape.  When a Red Line station opened in 1984, you could take the Metro to the mall, although the walk from the station was no picnic.

But the time to be wowed by indoor shopping malls has long since passed.

Now White Flint Mall is on its last legs. The mall’s owners, Lerner Enterprises and the Tower Cos., plan to redevelop the property into a massive town center. Bloomingdale’s closed in 2012 and was demolished. Most other stores have closed or plan to with the exception of Lord & Taylor, which sued to stop the redevelopment and remains oddly but enthusiastically open.

A final closing date has not been announced. Until then you are free to head up Rockville Pike, pull into any parking spot you like and wander around. We did.

Photos by Jacqueline Dupree. For more White Flint photos, visit her page

White Flint plan courtesy of Lerner Enterprises.

Jonathan O’Connell and Jacqueline Dupree are on Twitter at @oconnellpostbiz and @JDLand

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