Staten Island rewind: The iconic Honeycomb opens at the Mall in 1974

Staten Island rewind: The iconic Honeycomb opens at the Mall in 1974

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – It was probably the funkiest part of the Staten Island Mall.

And it was gone far too soon.

I’m talking about the Honeycomb, that hip, subterranean shopping area that was the cool spot to hang out back during the Mall’s first decade.

The Mall itself opened in 1973. The Honeycomb followed a year later.

An ad in the Staten Island Advance on Feb. 10, 1974 put out a call for tenants for the new space, touting 22 available store locations for “arts, crafts and antique dealers.”

The ad claimed that the Mall, anchored at that time by Macy’s and Sears, attracted 22,000 people a day.

Two weeks later, the Advance reported on the construction of the Honeycomb, which was described as “an unusual cluster of boutiques, designed to create the atmosphere of a busy, old world arcade.”

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Staten Island Advance story details upcoming opening of Honeycomb section of Staten Island Mall on April 11, 1974. (Advance archive photo)

Said Mall developer Irving Feist, “In this mall-within-a-mall, independent merchants will offer their creations, antiques, crafts, imports and services at the most heavily trafficked center of the Staten Island Mall.”

He said, “It will be a blend of yesterday and today – a classic galleria of a marketplace in the most contemporary setting.”

The shops were built in the shapes of hexagons, rectangles and parallelograms, all arranged in a honeycomb design.

The Honeycomb’s grand opening was set for Thursday, April 11 at 10 a.m.

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The Honeycomb in full swing at the Staten Island Mall. (Advance file photo)Staten Island Advance

Shoppers were told they would “See the magic menagerie of the glassblower” and would be able to “Watch the ceramist mold her clay.”

Also on tap would be “hypnotic aromas and exotic herbs & spices.”

Shoppers would also “Marvel as the leather artisan fashions his wares” and would “Be dazzled by the wizardry of the gold and silversmith.”

An Advance ad said that patronizing the Honeycomb would be “more than just a shopping experience!”; it would be “an excursion into America’s living handicrafts!”

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Staten Island Advance ad announces upcoming grand opening of Honeycomb shopping area in Staten Island Mall, April 11, 1974. (Advance archive photo)

In case you’ve forgotten, these were the first stores that populated the Honeycomb:

The Papaloapan (likely named after the Papaloapan region of Mexico)

The Wizard’s Shop

Hibiscus International Art and Gift Shop

Jolee Ceramics

Ruby Begonias

J&F Stamps and Coins

Fantastic Photo

Creations in Glass

Andreasen Leather and Pottery

Supreme African Gift Shop

The Glass Menagerie

Stores came and went over the years. The one I remember best was the Staten Island Transfer, where you could have a decal ironed onto a T-shirt.

While the Honeycomb remains a fond memory for many Islanders who remember it, the area lasted less than 10 years.

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Staten Island Advance article on the grand opening of new Honeycomb shopping section of the Staten Island Mall. (Advance archive photo)

After a new owner bought the Mall, the Advance reported in March of 1981 that renovations to the Mall’s center court area would spell the Honeycomb’s demise.

Honeycomb stores were offered other spots in the Mall. Some storeowners balked because moving to another part of the Mall would mean higher rents.

Among the Honeycomb stores at the time were Bandstand Jewelers, the Tic Tock Shop/Timex Time Center, Precious Time, Cini House of Furs, J&F Stamps and Coins and Northeastern Gold Buyers.

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Staten Island Advance article from March 1981 details how renovation plans will mean an end to the Honeycomb shopping area of Staten Island Mall. (Advance archive photo)

Two stores, Honeycomb Jewelers and Rita’s Jewel Box, were not offered new spots and were asked to leave the Mall entirely, according to the Advance.

What Honeycomb stores do you remember? Have any photos? Write to me at [email protected]

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The Honeycomb shopping area was located under the Staten Island Mall’s center court, seen here after renovations forced the Honeycomb’s closure in the early 1980s. (Advance file photo)