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That Seventies Mall: 1973

That Seventies Mall: 1973

Columbus, Indiana, 1973. "Commons Courthouse Center. Interior view of shopping mall atrium with trees, walkways and crowd. Architect: César Pelli, Victor Gruen Associates." View full size.


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The times have changed

Here's a closer look at Jean Tinguely's 1973 sculpture, Chaos.
Here is chaos in a mall in 2023.


You might be going to Columbus for Chaos but stay for ice cream at Zaharakos. A fantastic place that wouldn't look any different than a Shorpy ice cream parlor photo dated a century or more past.


There's not that many people in the local shopping mall in 2 months.

Something's Missing

Not a single person is on a phone. Wonder how people survived?

Scouting out the new mall

Overload of Columbus-area youth presenting a range of not-entirely-clear handiwork (knots, leaves, cupcakes?). In the background, "Chaos I" by Swiss artist Jean Tinguely. Here's a 2021 video tour of the mall, now rebuilt using the original frame, with Tinguely's work still in place.

Kinetic Sculpture

The sculpture to the rear by the ramps has many moving parts. It is Chaos 1 by Swiss artist Jean Tinguely.

That's Chaos for you

and I'm not talking about the crowd of Girl Scouts. Chaos is the name of the mechanical sculpture. I was a kid in Columbus when the built the mall. We would sit and watch Chaos running while eating ice cream from Zaharakos across the street or pastries from Tiffany's in the mall. Most of the mall is gone now, but this part remains. Still scouring the photo for anyone I know.

50 Years Later

Some interesting history and up to date photos here.

It appears to be some sort of Girl Guides meeting in that photo. I see different troop numbers and a lot of young girls in GG and Brownie uniforms.


I remember the opening of this mall, a big deal in J. Irwin Miller's architectural development of his hometown. The formal dedication (the year after this photo was taken) featured not only Miller and Pelli, but avant-garde Swiss sculptor Jean Tinguely, whose 7-ton kinetic scrap-metal sculpture, Chaos 1, was the centerpiece. (That dark tangle center rear is Chaos 1.) Most of the mall was demolished in 2008, but Chaos 1 was preserved and the space redeveloped around it.

An interesting bit of trivia was the contest to name the mall. The suggestions (and the eventual choice) were not very exciting.

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