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My Turn: Celebrating the history of Sunrise Mall

Sunrise Mall
A photo from 1973 shows the newly built Sunrise Mall at the corner of the then-largely undeveloped area of Sunrise Boulevard and Greenback Lane in Citrus Heights. // Image courtesy, Sunrise Mall

By Thomas J. Sullivan–
I recently wrote an article for The Sentinel concerning the future of Sunrise Mall and asked the property administrator for the mall what older photos and news clippings might still be in their archives.

Thomas Sullivan
Thomas Sullivan

The administrator, Jill Tarabanovic, sent me a few 8×10 photo samples and told me she had much more material she could share. I was soon given access to some five storage boxes of archival photographs, news clippings and three large newspaper size binders dating back to the planning and construction of Sunrise Mall in the late 1960s.

Some of the full-size newspaper pages and special inserts from the early 1970s celebrating the mall’s grand opening were a bit delicate to the touch, but were all in remarkably good condition for being half-a-century old.

Three shoe boxes worth of neatly cataloged and labeled individual photos, all beginning from the 1970s, reflect decades worth of collective memory and holidays past.

Several original black-and-white 8×10 photos were shared with the Citrus Heights Historical Society and posted on their Facebook page, with a phenomenal response from community members who remembered seeing the mall during its early years.

Their responses remind me, a newcomer to Citrus Heights last year from coastal Pacifica, what a treasure Sunrise Mall truly is, and encourages me, as it should you, to add to the conversation as to what opportunities we may find as a community for the Mall’s planned redevelopment.

This July marked the 20th anniversary of recent renovations to the interior and exterior of Sunrise Mall.

Related: City says Sunrise Mall will be transformed into ‘flourishing center of community life’

I discovered some 100 dated-stamped color photographs neatly compiled in one binder, prepared by mall management, who sought to document the progress of construction from top to bottom. Much of the work on the interior of the mall was completed at night, well out of the public eye. These photos had never been seen by the public before.

Three full-size newspaper binders, also compiled by the display advertising department at Sunrise Mall, showed a chronological history of colorful seasonal promotions and special holiday events which were held at Sunrise Mall.

I didn’t have time to go through the complete collection of storage boxes, but will be returning this summer to look through these materials in closer detail.

The city I now call home has grown so fast and come so far, that we often forget the rich past from where we came. It’s time we did so.

Thomas J. Sullivan is a general assignment reporter for the Citrus Heights Sentinel. He moved to Citrus Heights in August 2018 from Pacifica, Calif.

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