Opening in 1966, Dixie Square was the South-Side of Chicago's first enclosed shopping mall, located in Harvey Illinois. It was anchored by JCPenney (then known as Penney's), Montgomery Ward department store, Woolworth (5 & 10 store), and later a Turn Style department store. The mall thrived until the mid-70s when the crime rate exploded in Harvey and Dixie Square was greatly affected by it. When robberies and murders became an unfortunately too common occurrence, Dixie Square finally shuttered in 1979.
The mall briefly re-opened as a movie set for the chase scene in the Blues Brothers, then was abandoned again. The property changed hands countless times and was left to rot. In 1984 teens broke in, smashed any remaining glass, and stole whatever steel they could rip off. By the 1990s the mall was fully exposed to the elements and by the early 21st century entire saplings were growing inside the mall. In 2005 the mall was sold to a developer who in 2006 began demolishing (illegally) the Montgomery Wards store. Afterward the developer was arrested for threatening the demolition company, and the mall once again sits wide open as it starts to crumble in on itself.
This is footage from my 1/11/09 visit to Dixie Square. We spent close to 6 hours wandering around the mall taking pictures and videos, we did not encounter any homeless, dogs, or gangbangers in those 6 hours.
This video is basically a quick tour of the mall as of January 2009. We start at the entrance to Block D, enter Turn Style and walk across the store to the break room on the second floor, head back into Block D into the center atrium, head through City Life into Jewel, then back to the center atrium and head down Block B towards Penney's. Finally we tour both levels of JCPenney.
The name "Abandoned Paradise" comes from a bit of graffiti found inside a Block C store near Hardy Shoes.