History of Ross Park Mall explored in July 21 at McCandless heritage center

Ross Park Mall just isn’t a shopping destination, it transformed the economy of the region, said local historian Scott Baret.

A History of Ross Park Mall will be presented at the McCandless Northern Allegheny Heritage History Center on July 21 at 7 p.m. Admission is free.

The history center is located at 830 Aufman Lane, in McCandless Township.

“Ross Park Mall is more than just Pittsburgh’s No. 1 shopping destination. It’s a project that was years in the making, was almost never built, and became a destination mall that continues to attract high-end retailers and shoppers from throughout the tri-state region,” said Baret, a member of the Ross Township Historical Society.

He has chronicled the economic and psychological impact of Ross Park Mall on the local community for years, said Abby Lucostic, chair of financial development and promotional committee for the history center.

“Re-live the planning days, the early years, and the transformation into what the mall is today. Get ready for the ‘favorite stores of yesteryear’ quiz, historical photos, and commentary on how the mall has transformed the economy of the region,” said Baret, an educator with a tutoring business in the North Hills.

Historical photos of the mall are on loan from Simon Properties, as is a shovel used in the 1985 groundbreaking, according to Baret.

The Town of McCandless and the North Allegheny School District launched a collaborative effort to house the longtime collection of the late local history buff Joseph Bullick in 2014, which was the beginnings of the history center. Baret is Bullick’s grandson, according to Lucostic.

Many may not realize the impact the mall has on those living in this region, Lucostic said.

“Ross Park Mall and McKnight Road’s development have drastically changed the way the people of the Northern Allegheny region live. The only way from Pittsburgh north to what was once very rural Perrysville, Ingomar and Wexford/Pine was wood-planked Route 19. McKnight Road’s development drove, literally, traffic away from the small towns on Route 19 and made for more commercial, suburban neighborhoods. The malls and stores along McKnight Road, with Ross Park Mall being the showpiece, were an integral part of how our neighborhoods developed into what they look like today,” she said.

Reservations are strongly suggested, Lucostic said. Visit townofmccandless.org.

Natalie Beneviat is a Trib Total Media contributing writer.

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