Lloyd Center spiral staircase into the open air plaza, 1960. Oregonian Photographs Collection, Org. Lot 1359 box 63, folder 7.

Photo by Kristen Seidman, Artslandia.

Y

es, it’s where Tonya Harding, our famed hometown Olympic ice skater, learned to skate. Now, on to the fascinating history of the mall’s namesake, Ralph B. Lloyd – a pioneer among California business tycoons who invest in Portland real estate. After living in our fair city for several years, Lloyd returned home to the family ranch in California and struck oil. He invested his riches in commercial real estate in promising West Coast cities and bought parcels of Eastside Portland along with Willamette during the first couple decades of the 1900s. His dream of transforming his land holdings into a mix of residential and commercial buildings – much like the ubiquitous condo buildings and newly imagined neighborhoods of today – was unrealized before his death. His daughters took up his torch, and the Lloyd Center opened its doors in 1960: 100 stores. Open-air. Ice skating. It was the largest shopping center in the west, or the nation, or the world, and drew comparison to New York’s Rockefeller Center. The Lloyd Center’s heyday started to wane in the ’80s, and renovations have been ongoing ever since, including the addition of a roof. The latest plans include a cinema and a live-music venue with high-density residential development planned nearby – the full realization of Lloyd’s dream after all.

 

Historic photographs for this series are provided by the Oregon Historical Society, a museum, research library, archive, and scholarly asset located in the heart of Portland’s Cultural District. View more photos of historic Portland on the new OHS Digital Collections website here.

Have an anecdote or old school photograph of you at the Lloyd Center Mall?
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