Moving from the south side of Chicago to the south suburb of Dolton in 1971, the first shopping trip my mother and I took in the south suburbs was River Oaks Mall in Calumet City. We always parked in front of Marshall Fields, my mother’s favorite, which is now Macy’s. Early in the 1970’s, a women drove her car into Green Lake which was quite a talked about story. The Forest Preserve is still across from the mall, though not sure what happened to the women driving into the lake. Some say there were children in the car as well. Sears was positioned at the far end of the open air mall. While in late high school and early college, many of my friends worked at Sears. Next door to Sears, I took a job at Kresges, right next door to Sears one summer in the diner part of the store. Many did offer food back in the day. I was a very poor waitress, my uniform always covered in some condiments. One day I fell and hurt my back. Don’t remember if it was at the store or at home but I quit shortly after.
River Oaks opened in 1966 and was a development of KLC Ventures a firm that included the pioneering developer Philip M. Klutznick and his son Tom. The elder Klutznick had developed Park Forest, Illinois, after World War II, as well as Oakbrook Center in Oak Brook in 1959 and Old Orchard Shopping Center in Skokie in 1956. Kresge s closed in 1987 and became a theater. Today, River Oaks is enclosed, In 1994, the redevelopment was completed.
The Forest Preserve has become much larger providing different groves, hiking paths, fishing, ice fishing and walking events.
Its been a long time since I have been to Rivers Oaks and the theaters next door which are closed and demolished. I did see the first Stars Wars at the theater. Unfortunately, the crime has escalated in the area and people have been shot in the mall. Though violence and gangs have always existed, I truly miss the way things were. However, Trip to the Mall provides some wonderful photos showing how the mall is today inside.