New Jersey has long been considered the mall capital of the country and for good reason. The malls in our state have not only been a place for shopping, they're an important piece of New Jersey history.

As I look back on my mall’s (Monmouth Mall) past, I think about how it all began with anchor stores like Bamberger's and Montgomery Ward back in the '70s.

These malls became not just shopping destinations but the heart of our social lives. Times have changed, and malls are facing a new reality.

In an era where the traditional mall concept is being challenged, I looked back at how our beloved mall adapted over the years with expansions, renovations, and unique additions like a Jersey Shore-themed food court.

How many of Monmouth Mall's anchor stores do you remember?

Original anchors of the mall consisted of Bamberger's (a subsidiary of Macy's) and Montgomery Ward. Montgomery Ward became Alexander's after pulling out of New Jersey.

The mall was enclosed and expanded to its current size in 1975.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The new expansion included two levels anchored by Abraham & Straus, Hahne's, and JCPenney as of 1975.

Caldor replaced Alexander's in 1986.

In 1987, Bamberger's was renamed Macy's.

Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images
Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Lord & Taylor replaced the former store Hahne's in 1990 and closed in 2019.

Stern's replaced Abraham & Straus in 1995.

The mall was expanded to include an elevator and a food court with a Jersey Shore theme.
Nobody Beats the Wiz and a new 15-screen Loews Theatres (now AMC) were added.
Old Navy replaced the closed Caldor.

Boscov's replaced Stern's in 2001. (And still remains)

In 2010, Planet Fitness opened at Monmouth Mall.

Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for Planet Fitness
Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for Planet Fitness

As for the future of Monmouth Mall, new changes are coming..a pedestrian-friendly "live, work and play" development is on the way.

Barnes and Noble booksellers will move to another location and will be replaced by Whole Foods.

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Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco only.

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