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Omaha’s First Mall: The Crossroads Shopping Center

Omaha’s First Mall: The Crossroads Shopping Center

by Natalie Kammerer


The Crossroads Mall at 72nd and Dodge has been an iconic part of the central-Omaha skyline for decades (especially since the meringue-shaped white tented roof was added in a mid-1980’s renovation). It was also one of the country’s first enclosed regional malls.[1]

Until the 1960s, the land west of 72nd Street was largely undeveloped—the Indian Hills Golf Course lay just to the southwest, but there wasn’t much else out there. The Brandeis department store, which had been an Omaha staple for decades, was pursuing some major changes in their Omaha presence. They had built multiple iterations of beautiful flagship stores on the corner of 16th and Douglas since 1894, and in the late 1950s, the Brandeis Investment Company purchased land on the northwest corner of the intersection at 72nd and Dodge. Much of the conception and execution of the project was due to the Brandeis store, which would ultimately serve as one of two anchors at the new shopping center. Sears and Roebuck was the second.

Aerial photo of Dodge Street looking west toward 72nd. Construction was just starting on Crossroads, 1959. Image courtesy of Douglas County Historical Society.

That year, Brandeis was also making big changes to their downtown campus—the Brandeis Theatre was demolished in 1959 to make way for the store’s parking garage.

The new shopping center, which boasted the most modern facilities, convenient dining and snack options, a sea of free parking, and a temperature-controlled arcade connecting twenty-four vendors ultimately cost about $10.5 million.[2] Sears and Roebuck had their grand opening in August of 1960, and Brandeis opened later in the year. They advertised “Seven Wonders of the Brandeis Shopping World”: luxuriously-decorated women’s and men’s departments, a youth section, a “fountain court” with escalators and a water feature, the “Crossroads Room” dining area, and the most marvelous and modern of all—the “magic air door.” This feature allowed for the store’s doors to be kept wide open—a gentle downward flow of air at the doorway was meant to act as a curtain, keeping out dust, wind, and extreme temperatures.[3]

Crossroads Shopping Center, looking northeast toward the Brandeis Department Store, c. 1960. Image source:


Brandeis fountain/sculpture court, c. 1980. Image source:

With vendors like Walgreens, Musicland, Herzbergs, Babytown, Goldstein-Chapman and more, the mall brought a wide variety of goods and services to what was then West Omaha. As the city continued to spread, more malls began to open to serve suburban communities. For many years, Crossroads managed to coexist with the larger Westroads (1968) and Oak View (1991) malls, undergoing various renovations and additions, ultimately ending with 735,000 square feet of retail space, three anchor stores (Dillard’s was added in 1986), a large food court, and room for 70 retailers.[4]

The first anchor store to leave was Younkers (they had acquired the Brandeis brand in the late 1980’s) in 2005, as they had a larger store at Westroads. Heightened competition from the other malls, in addition to the opening of Village Pointe (2004) and Shadow Lake Towne Center (2007) in farther-off suburban areas added additional strain. Dillard’s closed in 2008 and the mall was foreclosed in 2010. A few of the bays remained open until early 2020, when all stores were ordered closed so demolition could begin.

As of February 2021, demolition is underway and scheduled to finish by June. Lockwood Development anticipates that the new mixed-use shopping, entertainment, dining, and residential space will cost about $500 million.[5]

Plans, details, and renderings can be viewed here: https:/

[1] Way, Prange. “Crossroads Mall; Omaha, Nebraska.” Labelscar: The Retail History Blog. July 27, 2010.

[2] “Construction of $10,500,000 Shopping Center on Schedule.” Omaha World-Herald. May 15, 1960.

[3] “Seven Wonders of the Brandeis Shopping World at Crossroads.” Omaha World-Herald. October 9, 1960.

[4] Way, Prange. “Crossroads Mall; Omaha, Nebraska.” Labelscar: The Retail History Blog. July 27, 2010.

[5] “FAQs.” The Crossroads.

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