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Vintage Tyson's Corner

Posted: 08 Aug 2007 02:00
by Groceteria
I'm wondering if anyone has any vintage photos or info on the original incarnation of Tyson's Corner in McLean VA. By that, I mean the groovy 1968 version I remember from my frequent childhood visits to the area.

Among the tenants I remember (most of which seem to be food-related and all of which could have their own interesting threads):

-- Hot Shoppes Cafeteria: related, of course, to the Hot Shoppes restaurants that were the genesis of Marriott Corppration.
-- Roy Rogers: I think there was a large cafeteria-style version.
-- Farrell's: home of the square scoop of ice cream.
-- Lum's: Ollieburgers and all. I believe it was on the outside, lower level of the center with an entrance directly to a parking lot.
-- Fannie Farmer Candy.
-- The Hecht Co.
-- Woodward & Lothrop.

I also remember Tyson's as only having one level (which the Wikipedia entry corrobrates, but also as maybe having a split-level section. I could be wrong, though.

Memories of Tyson's Corner Center

Posted: 03 Sep 2007 10:43
by marasca
You’ve touched on some of my favorite past eateries at Tyson’s Corner, *the* shopping center of my childhood. Unfortunately, I don’t have photos, but I do have some memories…

Hot Shoppes: What would a shopping trip with Mom be without some Pappy Parker fried chicken, and some coleslaw? This was there since day one, and, although there were two cafeteria lines, most of the time only one was ever open. I think you could also get the same chicken, if not by the same name, at the Roy Rogers, another Marriott property at one time.

(I always thought that with the whole Black Eyed Pea/Boston Market-type comfort food trend that Marriott, with some updating, could have made a go of the chain even today, but they claimed it wasn’t Still, at one time not too long ago, the Key Bridge Marriott was going to renovate its lobby-level restaurant into a replica of an early Hot Shoppes, complete with authentic entrees. I don’t think that ever happened, but I did get a Hot Shoppes cookbook at the Bailey’s economically viable. Crossroads location when I ate there, just before it was razed for a Best Buy.)

Roy Rogers: This location did have a cafeteria line, where you could get premade roast beef sandwiches, fries, etc., unlike most of the other locations, where you stood in a regular line. Even after it was remodeled with an all-glass storefront, it kept that setup, I think. The chain is still around, but they are few and far between - it never recovered from the Hardees acquisition. Good fast food.

Farrell’s: I remember going to friends’ birthday parties at here, but my most vivid memory of that location was that it was near a raised, permanent circular stage, with sloping tiled sides and covered with orange rug on top, where they held fashion shows (“Fashion Court”) – I remember my sister being in several sponsored by Woodward and Lothrop.

There was also the requisite huge bird cage nearby, which lives on only in name in the Aviary Court. At least I think so – I couldn’t find the court names at their website,

Lum’s: I never ate there, but you’re right about the location, which was near Roth’s theaters, too.

Roth's was not the greatest - I always liked the theater next to Farrell’s better – I think there were four screens, and you walked down a flight of stairs a mezzanine with a video arcade, and then to a set of escalators that took you the rest of the way down. ADA-compliant it wasn’t.

It was one of the few areas, besides the department stores, and Raleigh’s menswear (now occupied by Banana Republic) which had levels below the main level, where all the inline stores were before renovation added a lower level.

Raleigh’s, an original tenant, never renovated significantly, and still had a fab 60’s-era spiral staircase to the lower level until it went out of business. After the lower level was added, they didn't a second storefront - there were just black doors that opened out, like the exit from a movie theater.

Fannie Farmer candy: Facing diagonally toward Hecht’s, they had wonderful pecan buttercreams. I really miss those.

The Hecht Co.: It was years before I realized that what I thought was an abstract sculpture on the wall inside was actually the script version of their logo. I remember getting some of my school clothes there, but my mom usually took me to Woodies first, to see what they had. The Hecht’s menswear Really brown. Brown of an organic nature. Not attractive. It also hosted the bus stop, which made for some interesting people waiting inside, sheltered from the cold/heat. department was brown.

The restaurant was in the basement, which I always thought odd, and there never seemed to be anyone in there when I went downstairs to use the restroom.

I liked the Fountain Court in front of the store. Really fake-looking palms, and blue (?) tiled fountains lit from underneath with what seemed like hundreds of dollars of coins in them – I think the center donated them to charity every so often. And, an odd store (or something) called Pot’o’Gold that couldn’t seem to decide what it was – a restaurant? A place to buy smokes? Both?

Woodward & Lothrop: This was the department store my family went to most often, and I still have a black wool overcoat that I wear occasionally. I always wanted to go to their restaurant, The Williamsburg Room, which was on the top floor, but I don’t think I ever did. I always liked the octagonal display room at the top of the escalator though – like a mini-Monticello.

Woodies had the clock court, with a freestanding square clock. Nice, but the fake lushness of the Fountain Court was nicer, to my way of thinking.

I think they’ve updated Tyson’s nicely, and I shop there when I need to go to the mall, although I don’t care for the new wing too much or the less dramatic courts. I’d love to see some of these retailers resurrected, too. Venture capital anyone?

Posted: 03 Sep 2007 11:55
by rich
The lower level was a truck tunnel. Wheaton Plaza had a similar design, that also was remodeled into store space later on.

I believe Raliegh's ended life as one of Hart Schaffner Marx's chains. They bought quite a few conservative, full-line men's stores chains (BR Baker in Cleveland was another) and basically neglected them through the 60s & 70s, when styles and tastes changed radically. You could spend a lot of money at those stores, but you also could get very reasonable clothing that was a little nicer than what a department store sold. Hartmarx closed many of these stores around the end of the 70s/beginning of the 80s and then bought a new crop of more fashionable chains a few years later.

Posted: 04 Sep 2007 18:25
by Dave
Rich, I don't suppose it was a truck tunnel for long. I remember going to Tyson's several times back in the '70's and always seemed to end up entering by Lum's and then going upstairs.

I haven't been to Tyson's in years because I really don't have any compelling need to take the time to get there from Richmond. There was a time when lots of people I knew took regular pilgrimages to Tyson's to shop.

It's always struck me as sort of funny that although we also had Hot Shoppes, Roy Rogers, and Lum's in Richmond, there doesn't seem to be the wave of nostalgia about them that there is around DC. Roy Rogers didn't come to Richmond until late in the game and Hot Shoppes were considered to be sort of a joke compared to S&W Cafeterias. Lum's was known most for their late night hours and their location down by VCU where all of the drunks hung out (and got drunker, 'cause Lum's served beer).

The one thing about Tyson's that really stands out in my memory is the tile floors. I could never walk around Tyson's for long without my feet and legs hurting, and I was much much younger then. Conversely, last week I was at King of Prussia and walked the entire center without any problems. I don't know what it was about those tiles at Tyson's, but they killed me.

Posted: 05 Sep 2007 00:02
by rich
Most of the tunnel would not have been visible, but it's part of the reason for the seemingly odd layout of the mall now. Despite the inconvenient layout, parking, and location (close to the freeway, yet seemingly far depending on what approach you take), the mall has stores that are "Washington exclusives" like LL Bean & The Northface, and a greater variety than anything else in the region.

Hot Shoppes got their start in DC and were ubiquitous for a long time. They were no better than Marriott's other chains, but they were a DC institution much like longgone, often mediocre chains of various sorts in other places. Given that DC and its 'burbs lack the longstanding sense of place one finds in the NE & Midwest cities where most Washingtonians come from, it's understandable. Other DC institutions also seemed pretty unimpressive, such as Woodies & Garfinkel's, which were chopped liver compared to many other stores in their categories in other cities. Lazarus (Columbus) or Higbee's (Cleveland) had much more impressive stores than Woodies, and Garfinkel's really could never compare with the classic carriage trade stores like Frederick & Nelson, Halle, or Marshall Field's, let a lone the most upscale New York stores. Now these banners are largely gone. I'm sure Richmond had some institutions that no one other than locals would miss.

Posted: 17 Nov 2007 17:58
by NewsLynne
I would also love to see some vintage photos. My grandfather lives in Vienna so we'd always bomb over there to see a movie or just goof around.

One noteable thing is Woolworth's. They seemed to hang on over there for a really long time. The mall had its makeover but Woolworth's was still the same place with cheap belts and dead fish in the tanks.

I remember seeing "Flight Of the Navigator" in the underground theater. That would have been in 1986. I remember a pet store in there, too.

There are some pictures of me in some mall around 1980 but I don't know if it's Manassas or Tysons. Next time I get up to Northern Virginia I'll scan them in. I have a shot of my mom and I in Farrells on my 6th birthday in 1981 I'll try to find, too.

Tysons didn't have a York Steak House, but Manassas did. I miss Hot Shoppes - but I miss York Steak House the most.

Re: Vintage Tyson's Corner

Posted: 30 Sep 2010 20:14
by Bearhawke
Old thread I realize but; I used to hang out at both Tysons as well as Springfield Mall as late as 1978, the year I left the DC area for California. A friend of mine used to work at the Lums there, we used to refer to it as Slums. :)

Back to Tysons itself: I remember my parents taking me there ca. 1967 when it was partially open but still had a lot of construction activity going on. As for details back then, my memory is fuzzy at best (I was only 9 or 10).

Landsburgs (sp) was one of the anchors back in the 1970's as well, they went out early though.

Re: Vintage Tyson's Corner

Posted: 22 Aug 2011 12:15
by Dave
David, this blog has a picture of the orginial retail center at Tyson's Corner. You probably don't remember it this way. I don't either. ... orner.html