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I was that bored

January 4, 2010
The GTS at Lloyd Center

Undercover parking at Lloyd Center (Orin O'Neill photos)

I’m not a big fan of shopping malls. Not having money to shop is one reason.

But I needed to get out of the house, and it was raining. And Lloyd Center is closest to the house.

It’s also enclosed and climate-controlled, though that wasn’t the case when it opened in 1960. Every time my family travelled to Portland to visit my aunt, uncle and cousins, we ended up going to Lloyd Center.

The view from the 2nd level of Lloyd Center

Lloyd Center was originally conceived in the 1920s as a self-contained area of shopping, residences and office space. City planning geeks would probably call it an “urban village,” especially with MAX running right by the place.

Today, Lloyd Center is not a whole lot different than all the other malls. Except for the ice rink.

Having an ice rink in your mall wasn’t so unusual in the early 1960s. In fact, Clackamas Town Center, on the other side of town, only recently dismantled their rink. But there are no plans to do the same at Lloyd Center.

Lloyd Center ice rink

I used to be reflexively anti-mall. But one day, I noticed downtown Seattle had all the same stores as Northgate and Southcenter. Unless you worked in one of the office buildings, downtown Seattle was just another mall.

Seattle and Portland are both cities of neighborhoods, which have neighborhood business districts (our British friends call them “high streets”). I discovered I could get almost everything I needed in the ‘hood. Especially since all the stores downtown were too expensive. And that going downtown was a pain in the butt (Seattle much more so than Portland). As I’ve said, you can go any direction in Portland and come across a Fred Meyer in a mile or two.

Portland’s downtown still has unique shops and restaurants, and a high concentration of entertainment. Still, the tanked economy is chipping away at Portland’s uniqueness, as it is elsewhere.

So I’ve come to realize I can hang out at a mall and my head won’t explode.

Lloyd Center food court

I find I can spend considerable time contemplating the intricate details of the roof structure. The people-watching on this day is not that interesting, but it doesn’t seem likely to be on a midday Monday.

And it’s certainly not as interesting as the last time I lived here, when Portland had a serious gang problem. Back then, every time I went to Lloyd Center, a group of people dressed in red or blue (sometimes accompanied by leashed pit bulls) was walking through the place, followed closely by mall security (who were rather heavily armed) and Portland cops. Luckily, Spencer Gifts and Chick-Fil-A were there when I needed a place to duck into.

I thought about seeing a movie, but the multiplex next to the food court only has Avatar in 2-D. Time to go home. Now, if I could just remember how to get to where I parked. Favicon

  1. January 4, 2010 8:36 pm

    I’ve always enjoyed Lloyd Center. The rink was a revelation to me when I first discovered it. Very cool, in my opinion. I’ve stayed at the nearby Residence Inn a number of times over the years and appreciate how close the mall is to the hotel.

  2. January 5, 2010 8:14 am

    Avatar in 3D is worth it! Saw it last weekend and the effects are amazing. Are scooter gangs taking over your mall?

  3. January 5, 2010 9:01 am

    No scooter gangs at Lloyd Center. The GTS was probably the only scooter in the neighborhood. For most scooterists in Portland, riding season seems to end on September 1st…

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