Belle Promeanade Mall... or what's left of it!
When I was maybe 10 or so, Belle Promeanade mall was built a couple miles from my house.  We spent a lot of time there when I was a kid, and I have loads of memories about things I saw and did there as well as what I bought, the movies I went to, the games I played in the arcade, etc..  I mean, I couldn't tell you how many hours I spent altogether in that place!

Well, I moved away by the time I was in my teens, but a couple times a year I make it out to Louisiana to visit my family.  I hadn't been out to the mall in a while, but every time I did it was always a little more depressing.  The two big stores (Dillards and JC Penney's) eventually shut down, then, one by one, each of the smaller stores followed.  Finally, on one of my trips to the area, I went out to the mall and it was just a crumbling shell.  Literally.

Believe it or not, I drove right up to it before I realized it.  They had all the main entrances blocked off, but somehow I managed to wander into one of the areas that wasn't blocked because I had entered through an adjacent parking lot.  I drove up to the place wondering, "Hey, where are all the cars?"  I got right to the mall itself when I saw that the former Dillards building was partially torn down.

I drove around the area almost in shock.  It wasn't like I didn't know this was coming, but it was still a tremendous blow because it really was as if someone had taken a living memory out of my mind and killed it right in front of me.  That's kind of a strange emotion for something that is essentially a center of commerce, but this was an unprecedented experience for me.

The mall had probably been closed down two years or so before Dani and I returned on this trip to to visit the place.  By this time, all of the building had been razed except for the portion that had once been JC Penney's.  I wish I had been able to see the rest while it was still standing, but at least I was able to make this one last visit.

There's Dani standing between the slabs Spencers and World Bazaar once occupied at the entrance of Penney's.

It had snowed the day before (i.e., Xmas day), which is a rarity in the New Orleans area.  The water remained from the precipitation and was continuing to melt and drip from the remains of the buildings.

Though surrounded by a fence, the entrance was wide open, including the gate in the fence itself.

Somehow either vandals or the demolition/construction workers managed to smash out the majority of this last remaining skylight.  The ground was covered with the broken glass right below here.

Looking off in the direction of the mall, we see that there isn't any mall left... just a Wal-mart in the distance.  Bastards.

I wish you could see what I see right here.  On the right, men's clothes... to the left, casual wear, then the shoe department beyond that.

Is this a wake?

All of the exposed wood in this area was once covered with large mirrors (hence the dark circles of adhesive).   Most of the glass from here had been cleared away by the time of our visit...

...However, the elevator was a different story.  The mirrored walls were similarly shattered, although here all the glass littered the escalators.

To make matters worse, it was pitch black since the only light coming into the first floor was perpendicular to the direction of the escalators, and all we brought was a single hand-held flashlight.

Second floor: Ladies' wear, lingerie, and a stray cat.

Yes, seriously, the only occupant (well, that we were made aware of) was a stray cat who darted across a section of the second floor as we approached.

Dani is looking down into an exposed portion of the escalator's mechanism on the side opposite the stairs we came up.  Note the debris on the stairs themselves.

Even the skylights came down in a few places.  Fortunately, there was a lot of natural light up here.  See the next page for why.

Continue to Part II