Sears Crosstown Part 1: An Intro to the Tour

Photograph courtesy of Gabe Romero

The Sears Crosstown building sits recognizably vacant and lonely at the corner of N. Parkway and N. Watkins. If today this building, which measures at 1.5 million square feet or the size of 27 football fields, could speak it would surely say it feels “different” or “not wanted” among all the residential homes and small shops surrounding it. However, there was once a time when it was a vibrant living star. And though it may have seen the end of its fame for a good many years, a team of developers created the Crosstown Development Project whose vision is to see the historic Sears Crosstown building be preserved and redeveloped as a mixed-used vertical urban village – a purposeful collective of uses and partners. The Crosstown building is soon to make a come-back and we can not wait.

Yet.. there is something about an old historic, nearly decayed building that makes us a bit sentimental. Sometimes we like to see a building of historic value just as it is, as original as possible, even if unhealthy or decaying, as though transforming it removes its history somehow. And that’s how we came across this tour we’ll be sharing with you guys. Thanks to Justin E. Thompson, Crosstown Arts Video Producer, and Lisa M. Hume, Grants Writer for Crosstown Development Project and tour guide extraordinaire, for organizing and opening the doors of the building to a group of photographers and videographers to make documentation of this landmark before its transformation.

Photograph courtesy of Gabe Romero

Caitlin and I were quite thrilled and grateful to partake on this tour which timed a little over 2 hours. It may sound like an abundance of time, however when we’re considering a massive unique building, a large group of individuals to herd, and no functional elevator, the time easily passes.

Photograph courtesy of Gabe Romero

The beginning part of the tour was basically darkness with the aids of personal flashlights to reveal the original department store floor tiles leading our direction. I believe the darkness enhanced the enlightenment of finding hidden gems like signage and decorative wallpaper. The remaining floors with windows each had their own gems. We’ll discuss more of our findings and history we learned during this tour along with photographs in a series of blog posts to come..

In the meantime please take time to watch this incredible video by Justin E. Thompson. Tune in to what a former Sear’s employee tells of her experience and memories of Sear’s Crosstown, accompanied by some swell pastime photographs and footage of the place.

Lastly, a big thanks to Gabe Romero for sharing a few photographs he captured of this tour with us!

A 2017 update: The Sears Crosstown building has officially transformed and reopened as Crosstown Concourse. It currently houses several businesses and organizations and looks incredible! If you live in the area, you must venture inside the building.

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By Rebecca Phillips

I am a female born in the United States though I generally fear the border patrol. Buy me an ice cream cone and maybe I'll paint you something.

6 replies on “Sears Crosstown Part 1: An Intro to the Tour”

I worked at Sears on the 7th floor for a few months as a teen. It was a great building. I use to see the red SEARS letters from my bedroom window growing up.

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