Flick Truth: How is Little San Jose, Illinois one of many world’s curiosities? | Native information
The Livingston department store on the south side of the square was arguably the first shopping center in the city center in the 1960s. Barely a second, perhaps the first on a woman’s mind, was Roland’s women’s shop on the north side of the square.
The company was founded by Sam and Aaron Livingston in March 1866 and was originally known as the McLean County Dry Goods Store. It was in the middle of 100 block on West Washington Street (the south side of Court Square) and stayed there for 113 years.
Livingston’s had a floor space of 42,350 square feet, making it one of the larger department stores in the US state of Illinois. By comparison, today, some Wal-Mart Supercenters span 223,000 square feet. In 1946, Livingston added another floor by excavating a full basement that housed the home appliance department and fur store.
By the 1970s, downtown Bloomington was in decline. Sears and JC Penney’s had moved downtown to Eastland Mall in the 1960s, and Montgomery Ward later moved to College Hills Mall around 1980. Roland moved into the brave new world of the veteran Parkway but closed for good in the late 1980s. Locally owned department stores and clothing stores found it increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to compete against the huge economies of scale offered by Sears and other major retailers.
Livingston never made it out of downtown. Despite an infusion of around $ 100,000 to renovate and boost sales, sales were disappointing and Livingston closed on Jan 31, 1979. The store held and bid on the mandatory “going-of-business” sale on its final week Shop fittings and mannequins on “whole and parts”), cash registers and clothes racks. Read more about Livingston in this column by Bill Kemp.
Pictured: Phoenix Hall, located on the south side of the McLean County Courthouse, is seen here in this 1860 lithograph (the hall spanned the top seven windows on the left). In 1917, Livingston demolished five of seven Greek Revival buildings (including the two buildings in Phoenix Hall) to make way for a modern department store. Today Michael’s restaurant is on the street of this building.