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Dead Malls (Part 1): Eastgate

When I moved to Indianapolis 6 years ago, my love of anything urban was thrilled at the possibility of finding abandoned treasures. Whether it was an old home, an amusement park, an old rusted street sign, or faded mall, just standing there, staring in awe of what once had been was intoxicating. Coming from a small town, I had grown up around derelict factories, homes, and farms but coming to Indy meant urban ruins that offered new exploration!

This was the sign in 2010. I believe only the pole is there now.
Melissa Estes

I've written about Route 40 on this very website and it was coming into town on that very highway that I noticed an old mall. Its name was Eastgate Consumer Mall and I had memories of going there as a child. The label scars and the old light posts beckoned me to do research. I went online and found this incredible site called There, people spoke of the rise and fall of this particular center and I found Eastgate's history fascinating. So many people remember this mall, as it was the shopping mecca during the 60s and 70s. It was the first of its kind, since before malls, downtowns were the place to be and to shop. By the 1980s Eastgate was a relic and slowly declined into oblivion. Here's a snippet from the website,

Eastgate was built as an open-air shopping mall. Rain in spring. Humidity in summer. Wind in fall. Snow in winter. A flat concrete common area in the mall that hardly ever drained or dried. Waiting to see Santa in the open air of December was always good for a week-long Christmas cold.

But if you shopped at Eastgate, you learned to put up with Indiana weather. Only after Edward J. DeBartolo built the nearby enclosed Washington Square in 1974, did Eastgate's owner decide to cover the mall. That became the first of many times the phrase "too little too late" was used to describe the happenings at Eastgate Shopping Center.

Today, however, I don't just find Eastgate a curiosity as I once did. I'm starting to view it as a symptom of a larger issue: the changing dynamic of the consumer. We will delve more into the reasons WHY dead malls happen in subsequent articles here on this profile. So, make sure you SUBSCRIBE so you don't miss out!

I will post a few pictures I've taken around Eastgate. These were taken back in 2010 so a lot has changed. A company called Lifeline has a data center out of the northern most section of the mall now. I got to go inside the data center a few months back and the old flooring from a department store is still in use! It's pretty neat to see. Also the Police Command Center was housed in the southern most section until a few months ago when the building was deemed unfit for occupancy.

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