Parkway Plaza opened in October 1972 as the first enclosed, air-conditioned mall in San Diego County.
It was a $30 million commercial development on 80 acres in El Cajon. Its “anchor points” were a two-story, 285,000 square foot Sears store and a 110,000 square foot May Co. store. A hundred small retailers and a large Woolworth’s store separated the two pillars.
According to center administrators in 1972, the typical customer expected at the Parkway Plaza mall was “a 27-year-old housewife with one child and a husband who earned about $11,000 a year”.
From the Evening Tribune, Monday October 2, 1972:
CHAMPAGNE VISIT BOX
Three flags will fly at the opening of the Plaza
Tomorrow, three flags will be raised – the American flag, the California flag and the Parkway Plaza flag during the opening ceremonies of the new mall.
From 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. a VIP champagne tour will be offered to the elected officials of El Cajon; other mall management teams and the news media.
Ed Backlund, vice president of the development division of EW Hahn Inc., will deliver a keynote address at 9:30 a.m.
At 10 a.m. the flags will be hoisted by members of the El Cajon, Boy Scouts of America council. The El Cajon High School Marching Band will play the national anthem and a mix of melodies.
Instead of the traditional ribbon cutting, a giant padlock that will lock the chains placed at the mall’s entrance will be unlocked with an equally giant key held by the mall’s director and developer, Merchants Assn. Representative, Chamber of Commerce Representative and Mayor James Snapp of El Cajon.
The public will then be invited to discover the new stores.
Here are some of the mall’s first tenants, in alphabetical order.
Alroe Women’s Clothing, Anita Shop, Vince Bartolone Realty, Baskin-Robbins 31 Flavors Ice Cream Store, Bel Aire Uniforms, The Brick Shirt House, California Bicycle Shop, and Casons Inn Seafood Restaurant.
Central Federal Savings & Loan, contemporary sportswear Chess King, Cohen’s Kosher Style Deli, Crazy Shirts, Daisy’s restaurant, Edie Adams Cut & Curl and Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor.
Fashion Conspiracy, Florsheim Shoes, Food Basket Market, Foxmoor women’s fashion, The Gap, Gallenkamps shoes, Happy Steak, Hardy Shoes, Hartfields (women’s clothing) and Hatfield Jewelers.
Household Finance Corp. from El Cajon, International Health Foods Ltd., Jacobson’s Department Store, Jeans West, Karl’s Shoes, Kinderfoto, Optometrist Dr. David L. Land, Dentist Dr. Terry L. Lawrence, Lawson Jewelers and Leed Women’s Shoes.
Leonard Men’s Clothing, Marina Carpets & Draperies, Masters Exclusive Candies, May Company, Mission Music Co., Morrow’s Nuts, Mother To Be Maternity shops, Mr. E men’s wear, Nature Food Centers, Night & Day Formal Wear, Parkway Barbers and Plaza Laundry Parkway.
Pup “N” Juice, Radio Shack, Rafferty’s Candies, Rebel Shop men’s wear, Regal Shoes, Richman Brothers shoes, Riviera Chairs and Sofa Beds and anchor tenant Sears, Roebuck & Co. which opened on the site in 1969.
Singer Sewing Machines, Straw Hat Pizza Palace Restaurants, Streicher Shoes, Swiss Colony, Thom McAn Shoes, Thompson Jewelers, Thrifty Drug Stores Inc., Tie Shak, The Tinder Smoking Supplies, and Triple R Shoe Repair
United California Bank, United Artists Cinemas, United Sporting Goods, Universal Boot Shops, Walden Book Stores, Weisfield Jewelers, Wherehouse Records, Wicks “N” Sticks craft store, Woolworths and Yardage City.