Sunday, June 13, 2010

Carousel Center vs. The Walden Galleria

Carousel Center (left); Walden Galleria (right)

Today's Buffalo vs. Syracuse matchup pits the two high profile malls against one another, The Carousel Center in Syracuse, and The Walden Galleria in Buffalo since I finally made my first visit to the latter on June 12th.

A few basic facts first:

The Carousel Center was built in 1990 by the Pyramid Companies and features around 150 stores in 1,500,000 square feet of shopping area.

The Walden Galleria was built in 1989, also by The Pyramid Companies and features around 250 stores (and services) in about 1,600,000 square feet of shopping area.

Since both were built by the same manufacturer and are roughly the same size, they make for a decent comparison between the two cities.

First Impressions:
Neither mall was built particularly closer or further than the other from the rough element of either city.  Carousel Center, situated on the eastern end of Onondaga Lake is noticeably close to Syracuse's dangerous and violent south side.  Likewise, stumble a few blocks east of the Galleria and you'll find yourself in some lock-your-doors areas of Buffalo.

That having been said if anyone based their desire in going to the mall on how the area looks driving up, Carousel Center would sit an empty building.  First of all, you're likely to encounter a few homeless, and dangerous looking city dwelling denizens before you even get in the parking lot.  Once you make it by Syracuse Metro Wastewater (and enjoy the accompanying smell), and turn into the parking lot, your level of comfort generally does little to improve.

Meanwhile, driving up to the Galleria requires roughly the same amount of highway.  The area looks noticeably better and the parking lot cleaner and more inviting.  The Cheesecake Factory greets you with a bright yellow facade, not the dirty gray of Carousel.

(Credit: Foodtographie)

The Inside
After finding surprisingly easy parking (to be fair, Carousel stupidly decided to nuke 30% of its parking for the new expansion) we wandered through Dick's into the mall.

The difference is nothing short of astounding.  The Galleria's black and white checkered floors and white railings look sharp, especially bathed in an enjoyable amount of clean, natural light streaming in from several skylights.  The entire mall looks warm, inviting and pristine.

Carousel's annoying white speckled floors and green rails just look dirty by contrast, especially since the mall isn't nearly as well lit and suffers from far too much yellow lighting.  Plain and simple, the place just looks dirtier, and you don't want to spend any more time there than you have to.  I actually thought The Galleria was five to ten years newer than Carousel and was ready to not penalize Carousel at all for this.  Turns out it's one year older.  No excuses Syracuse.

Fellow Shoppers:
Like I said, both places are situated a bit too close to their respective city's ghetto for my sheltered comfort.  However, going inside, you'd never know it.  Walking through Carousel is just like taking a stroll down Syracuse's South Side.  It's a mall, so of course it's pretty safe...but it kind of doesn't feel that way.  I'm always afraid I'm going to walk too closely to the wrong person and get clocked.

 Carousel Opium Den, Artist's Rendition
("A New Vice: Opium Dens in France", cover of Le Petit Journal, 5 July 1903.
Scanned from Smoke: a global history of smoking (2004) ISBN 1-86189-200-4)

Meanwhile over in Galleria, I felt like I was walking around by HSBC arena, not a few blocks from an area that has a higher crime rate than Syracuse, where the worst I would encounter was the five fifteen year olds playing hackeysack outside of Dick's  (scary hackeysack).  The shoppers were pleasant, the stores were nice and it just didn't have that Ghetto vibe that Carousel pulsates with.

The Cold Hard Truth:
Carousel is a shitpile built in a shitpile, situated next to a shitpile, filled with shitpiles.
Pictured: Redundancy
(Credit: Appelogen on flickr)

The Galleria is clean, gorgeous, pleasant and pretty much what a mall should be, minus the Radio Shack (seriously how do you not have a Radio Shack?).

1 comment:

  1. To be fair to Carousel, the mall looked a lot nicer inside before they decided to paint it the lovely little cocktail of John Deere green and puke yellow. Just saying :)