By Autumn Heisler ‘15
When you think of English and engineering majors, you usually don’t picture them together. But class of 1999 alums Patrick Manley, with a degree in English, and Brendan O’ Riordan, with an engineering degree, thought otherwise. This pair of Widener graduates collaborated to make and produce a documentary on a groundbreaking Delaware County mall known as the Bazaar of All Nations.
The Bazaar was one of the first models of today’s modern mall, predating the King of Prussia Mall among others. It opened November 8, 1960, on Baltimore Pike in Clifton Heights with the idea of bringing stores together. A community — one that some considered a family — grew out of the four-city-block-long center. Manley and O’ Riordan, along with cinematographer and director Melissa Whitely, decided to commemorate this “mother of all malls” by creating the documentary that debuted in 2010, the 50th anniversary of the Bazaar’s opening.
The idea came to Manley about a decade ago when a basic search on Google turned up little information on the Bazaar. “It seemed odd to me, considering there are websites for even the most obscure things, that a place as fondly remembered had no presence on the Internet, or anywhere else for that matter,” Manley said. But it wasn’t until 2006, when Manley met Whitely and proposed the idea of putting together a documentary, that the idea truly blossomed. Manley asked his lifelong friend O’ Riordan to join them in their project.