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Dead malls: You could shop... until they dropped

Once booming, now barren. Let’s take a peek at a mall of Chattanooga’s past — plus hope for the future.

The inside of an old mall with lots of empty space. Two benches and a table with chairs sit empty, surrounded by a few plants. A closed storefront can be seen in the background, and two groups of people are walking around.

Eastgate Mall circa 2007.

Photo by Jason Trew Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Shopping malls across America have been left in a state that not even Paul Blart could save, and Chattanooga is no exception.

Known as “dead malls,” these abandoned, dilapidated, or mostly vacant shopping centers have become a subject of fascination — especially thanks to the online popularity of liminal space aesthetics.

Let’s go to the mall

Eastgate Mall — now Eastgate Town Center — was once in its heydey.

After opening in the 1960s, Eastgate held the title of Tennessee’s largest shopping mall for a while. In the early ‘70s, it withstood a fire and renovations — which enclosed the originally open-air center — but continued to flourish. During its popularity, shoppers could head to Eastgate Mall for department stores like Loveman’s or Sears, car and hobby shows, a theater, and even a duck pond.

Back to the future

Today, Eastgate is a bit quieter. The center is now a mixed retail/office space with a name change and goal to become a popular community center once more.

Plus, Chattanooga still has a number of other shopping centers or districts where you can make like NSYNC and buy, buy, buy:

  • Warehouse Row | This downtown shopping center is popular for its convenient location + upscale stores and boutiques. Pro tip: Grab a bowl of ramen at Two Ten Jack after shopping.
  • 2 North Shore | This NorthShore plaza offers a variety of boutiques, eateries, and lifestyle shops. You can shop, take a yoga class, get a massage, and enjoy a meal at Big Bad Breakfast all within its compound.

Do you have memories of a local mall from back in the day? Share them with us and we may feature your story in a future newsletter: First date at the food court, trying on prom dresses at the department store, hitting up Orange Julius before picking up the perfect graphic tee at Hot Topic — we wanna hear it all.

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