Dead Mall: Exploration of an Abandoned Shopping Center

Note from Kyle: I’ve kept this post up for archive purposes, but I’ve deleted the photos since I revisited Dixie Square mall in higher resolution on my main blog, which can be found here:

Went out to Chicago again this weekend. Took a few photos of some new places.
First destination – An abandoned shopping mall. Once in an area of great promise, now the area has descended into high crime and depression. The mall, used for the chase scene in the Blues Brothers movie, closed in 1978 and since then had been the site of a murder, multiple rapes, and a few other very nasty things until the police station moved nearby.

Fire damage is apparent in the building and the once sturdy concrete upper floor has caved in at multiple sites within.

A sign hangs from the position where it once stood. Vandalism has removed much of what was once in the mall, but sometimes you’ll stumble upon signs of what used to be:

Walls are torn down – only flaps of wallpaper and wood grid remains in some areas:

This room was particularly interesting to me. I’m not sure if I’m right, but I think that the blue tint in my photo is due to the holes in the ceiling becoming a giant pinhole camera type device. The blue and white is actually a projection of the sky above:

An escalator, once part of a bustling JC Penny, now stands silent. Water collecting at the bottom makes for a tricky climb as well as corroding metal steps:

Two escalators cross in a large department store area:

Colorful murals and wallpaper adorn the dreary halls of the old mall:

A sign advertising “beautiful things” still holds true, in a way.

My second destination was, as far as I could tell, an abandoned chemical research factory. I’m told that it was once an oil company, but I can’t for the life of me tell exactly what they did in there because I found all sorts of obscure chemicals not related at all to petroleum.

A piano is in the hallway across from a lab. I have no idea why it’s there:

Some insane machinery fills up one of the rooms in the building:

Various equipment, bottles, and papers create shadows in this room. It smelled of sulfur, so I didn’t stay in there for long:

Notice the “asb 9” in this photo. I’m pretty sure that means that there was asbestos present and needed to be removed. Still, the least of our worries:

As always, you know where to find more and larger.

2 thoughts on “Dead Mall: Exploration of an Abandoned Shopping Center

  1. Grammar Gal

    You were at the Dixie Mall, Blue Island, if I recall. The ‘colorful mural’ was painted by yours truly in August of 1079–part of the interior walls of the fake ‘Toys Are Us’ store front. I worked at Dixie Mall for the better part of a week, as Stand-by Sign Writer. Because I was a “Chicago painter’, I never got credit in the final credits of the film.

    I was the only woman, for most of three months, working with 53-55 men at a warehouse at 929 W. Adams, which is now a condo. I have a screen capture I did tonight that I would like to send you as a follow-up to your segment.

    I am an artist/photographer/blogger, now living in Rogers Park. E-mail me at:

    Your work, by the way, is beyond excellent!

  2. Kyle

    Woah! Thanks so much for the info. The best comments that I receive on my blog by far are the ones from people who have been involved in the places that I have been in one way or another. I had known that the Blues Brothers movie was filmed in the place, but it’s difficult to tell what exactly was a prop and what was a remnant of the old mall. Thanks for clearing that one thing up and thanks for painting such a cool mural! It really stands out in the drab gray scenery of the current building.

Leave a Reply