Thursday, December 28, 2006

After Christmas Sale!

Christmas at Taubman Center, Westfarms; West Hartford

Over these past few months, I’ve been increasingly poised to discover more Taubman Centers across America, mostly thanks to Milford’s Malls of America site. Specifically, those built around the 1970’s and early 1980’s, when their European-feel defined their complex, signature multi-layered hexagonal ceilings, and somewhat bizarre art sculptures and inviting seating areas, capture me. In my hometown, we have Connecticut’s star shopping mall, Westfarms. While I personally think Stamford Town Center is a tad more architecturally complex and pleasing, being seven-levels as well as having a Greek ampitheater-style central court, and plenty of carpeted ramps. Westfarms stays true to it’s distinct, simple, original look despite some of the disappointing changes over the years, specifically the removal of the center court fountain. Grievances aside…

Here’s some lasting tributes to Westfarms’ Christmas 2006 display which will be disassembled within a few more days. While the showcase isn’t as majestic, or Christmas-capturing as it was before over-the-top commercialism saturated the display itself (ironically, malls are bastions of them), they used to set an enormous tree right where that globe is now. Don't get me wrong; Happy Feet was a good movie but I don't think it encapsuled Christmas or the month of December.

Westfarms parking lot on Black Friday 2006.

(Former) Bradlees on Park Street; Hartford

After a grand number of years, The Caldor Rainbow has decided to investigate Connecticut’s last former Bradlees department store sight in Hartford. Located on the notorious Park Street, this former Bradlees store has been vacant for over a decade and sitting beside an otherwise thriving Save-A-Lot store, which molds to the limited offerings apart the socio-ecomoic plane of inner-city Hartford.

Save-A-Lot or Save Your Life; stay relatively car-side, doors locked!

A familiar site, the vacant store is seen easily off Interstate 84, heading East around the entry of the capitol area. My father, whose worked self-employed in Hartford’s West end [Capitol Avenue] since the early 1970’s has warned of the overall danger of Park Street along it’s inability to improve within a dilapidated urban setting. Ever since I was in my tender years, I would often be told of Park Street’s uninviting nature as well as this very plaza having historically been known as a stay-away zone.

Too many years of vacancy to notice any Bradlees label scar.

For years now, there has been a plan to revitalize the Park Street area and to revitalize this plaza which houses the long vacant former Bradlees store. Most recently, as in a few weeks ago, the store was opened from it's steel-shuttered trap to host a weekend long "Mega Liquidation Sale" similar to the many closeout/bargain-style "Sale of The Century" expositions Hartford typically hosts annually. In the end, it was a prime opportunity missed to see the inside of the store.

A familiar co-op behind the plaza, seen from the Interstate and it's beaten-down road pilon.