The Mall’s First Expansion – by Barbara Nicklas

The Mall’s First Expansion – by Barbara Nicklas

It was August 6,1981 and the first expansion of The Mall in Columbia was just

about to open. One of the community groups was a troupe of the most adorable tap dancers seen here in this photo.


 To mark the occasion an entire wall of balloons had been constructed between the

existing mall and the new expansion. A huge cake in the shape of the mall’s

iconic pyramid had been created by a bakery in the mall and was waiting to be

devoured by the crowds. During the morning before the opening I had my first

encounter with Jim Rouse as he wondered into the marketing room looking for

what was being done “backstage” and to see what mementoes were available.

And yes, he had on his traditional plaid jacket and was wonderfully personable.


Four stages were set up throughout the mall and for 10 days they were filled with

countless community musical and dancing groups as the entire entertainment

budget for the opening period was only $4,000!


Over 50,000 people visited The Mall in Columbia that opening day. The crowds were

so great that we ran out of the branded napkins we had specially made to use to

pass out the cake to customers. When I returned to the cake with extra napkins

donated by the food retailers, there was my dear sweet grandmother holding out

her hand for a piece of cake to be placed on it!! Yes, it was day of many

wonderful memories.