As a young kid, I couldn’t imagine having more fun than what that $5 bill got me.
One of my parents or a grandparent would drop me and a buddy off – my younger brother was usually there, too – at Marquette Mall with $5 each and tell us they’d be back to get us in an hour or so. We were young enough to be able to entertain ourselves cheaply, but old enough to do so by ourselves.
We’d walk into the mall and head straight for Tilt, the arcade. We’d play $3 or $4 worth of games, maybe NBA Jam or Mortal Kombat or Golden Axe, but we strategically chose games that would give us the most bang for our quarter.
We’d then head over to the Hot Sam, get a couple of the best soft pretzels ever made anywhere by anyone and cruise the mall. We’d hit Foot Locker, Finish Line, Man Alive, Readers World to check out the sports magazines and any other place in between that looked appealing to us.
After a while, we’d return to the entrance near Carson Pirie Scott that faced U.S. 20 – you know the one, the long, tunnel-like entrance which echoed your voice off the walls. We’d yell something ridiculous and listen to our words reverberate back into our faces. Pretty soon our ride would pull up and we’d head back home.
It was great fun, and a good option for kids our age to let off some steam without getting into too much trouble.
This week, it appears, Marquette Mall closed off the interior of its building. One of the building’s tenants, FunFlatables, said so in a Facebook post, explaining that they’d be building an entrance accessible from the outside.
It was an inevitable step, as anyone who’s been in the mall lately could have seen coming. The stretches in between the department stores have long been sealed off. All the stores we used to frequent now gone, leaving a barren, cold landscape that is not at all reminiscent of the bright, vibrant spaces that used to occupy the real estate. I can remember regular baseball card shows being held in those hallways.
Now, there’s nothing.
It’s a sad moment, to be sure. I don’t know if kids today would be interested in having the same kind of fun in that building that we used to have, but if they are, they’d have to seek it elsewhere.
Regardless of whether Marquette Mall returns to its former glory – unlikely – or if the space is completely reimagined as is happening with many former interior malls all over the country remains to be seen. It certainly seems as though the latter is possible. Lately, Planet Fitness, Fiesta Cancun and other places have located with doors that face the parking lot, leaving hope that the prime piece of real estate at the corner of Franklin Street and U.S. 20 will continue to be useful well into the future.
I certainly hope so. In the wake of all the revitalization happening these days around town, I hope for something spectacular on that site. Across the street in Dunes Plaza, wonderful changes have been made, so I hold out hope for the Marquette Mall site.
Until then, I’m left with only memories of video games and delicious pretzels. That’ll have to do for now.
Contact Managing Editor Adam Parkhouse at email@example.com or 1-219-214-4170.