The birth of a mall

Where the Latham Circle Mall now stands was once the place to go for corn.

Before the mall became the closed-air facility it is today, it was an open-air strip mall, built in the 1950s and known as the Latham Corners Shopping Center. Before that, it was a vegetable stand.

In a 1977 article in The Sunday Record about the history of the plaza, the cost of the original development, which opened in October 1957 on a 32-acre plot of land, was listed at $10 million. It was sold to Fabian Simon and Samuel Rosen for $5.8 million and then to the Latham Circle Realty Corporation in 1960 for $6 million, before being passed on to Eugene Weiss, according to the Town of Colonie Assessor's office.

In the 1950s and 1960s, it was the place to go, said town historian Kevin Frank.

The driving force behind the shopping center's development was Robert Cummings, a partner with Maxwell Cummings and Son of Montreal, Canada.

At the time Latham Corners opened, it had four well-known anchor stores: the 80,000-square-foot Interstate Department Stores, the 25,000-square-foot Grand Union, and F.W. Woolworth Co. and W.T. Grant Co., both 25,000 square feet.

An Aug. 14, 1955, newspaper article said the development would include "a supervised children's playground and music in the parking lot and inside and outside the stores."

The article goes on: "Mr. Cummings said the center will bring in many national chains not already represented in the Tri-City area. It will have 34 air-conditioned stores, including seven ladies' specialty shops, two men's shops, three shoe stores, a children's wear shop, a fabric shop, a hardware store, restaurant, beauty parlor, barber shop, a dry cleaner, book store, toy shop and children's furniture store."

The shopping center was intended to serve 500,000 people within a 20-minute drive and an additional 100,000 residents north toward Saratoga.

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