Thursday, May 1, 2014

O'Neil Shopping Center Opens – 60 Years Ago Today

Here's a full-page of news items from the April 30, 1954 Lorain Journal about the impending opening of the O'Neil-Sheffield Shopping Center the following day – May 1, 1954 – 60 years ago today. (Click on it for a larger view.)

The page of articles is a real snapshot of the hoopla and excitement surrounding the opening.

The various executives behind the planning, construction and management of the new O'Neil's store are profiled. The stores (totaling 50 in all), as well as the various national product brands are listed, promising spectacular choices in shopping. A history of O'Neil's, including its growth from a single store in Akron to becoming a regional giant is provided. Even the benefit plan covering the employees of the O'Neil-Sheffield store is described.

Reading some of the articles today stirs mixed feelings. Back then, with a booming postwar economy and a strong local middle class, Lorain County was a desirable location for a major shopping center.

The shopping center would spell D-O-O-M for Downtown Lorain, which would never recover. And the shopping center itself would eventually get wiped out by Midway Mall.

(The shopping center has been a favorite topic here on the blog, with a variety of posts over the last five years.)

Nevertheless, memories of the shopping center in its heyday will never fade away in the minds of local Baby Boomers.

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