The idea of an indoor shopping center with a hotel was envisioned in the 1940s by oilman Glenn H. McCarthy where a second phase was to include the Shamrock Hotel; this concept was scrapped right after the Hilton Hotel franchise took over the Shamrock in 1955. Glenn H. McCarthy's abandoned concept would influence Gerald Hines in the late 1960s.
The Galleria was developed by Gerald D. Hines. The Neiman Marcus anchor store opened first, on January 28, 1969. The mall itself opened on November 16, 1970. The new shopping center was modeled after the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, borrowing, as its most distinctive architectural feature, a glazed barrel vault spanning the central axis of the mall. When it opened the mall had 600,000 ft² (56,000 m²) of retail space. The original skylights — which graced among other things a large, floor-level, ice rink, open year-round - had three hanging chandeliers. A connected 400-room hotel was opened in September 1971, the Houston Oaks Hotel (now The Westin Oaks Houston).
The first expansion, known as Galleria II, was begun in 1975 and opened on June 17, 1977. It added 360,000 ft² (33,000 m²) of retail space on two levels, Lord & Taylor and Frost Bros. anchor stores, office space (known as the Galleria Financial Center since the early 1990s). A second hotel also opened as part of Galleria II on November 18, 1977, the 500-room Galleria Plaza Hotel (now The Westin Galleria Houston). Marshall Field's joined the mall in 1979, in a store designed by noted architect Philip Johnson. In 1986, a second major expansion, Galleria III, opened with a new wing to the west of Marshall Field's, anchored by Macy's. Access to Galleria III from the main mall was through the Marshall Field's store limiting the success of the new expansion. Subsequent solutions to solve the problem with signage and a bypass through the parking garage did not have much success in changing this issue. This brought the mall to almost 1.6 million ft².
Galleria IV expansion In February 1989 the Galleria was 93% occupied, making it the mall with the fifth highest percentage of occupied space in the Houston area.
In 1996 Dayton-Hudson Corporation (now Target Corporation), parent company of Marshall Field's, exited the Texas market and sold its Marshall Field's Texas stores. The San Antonio location was sold to Macy's, and three Houston and Dallas stores to Saks Fifth Avenue. Saks Fifth Avenue would relocate its Post Oak Boulevard location into the Galleria as a flagship location after extensive renovations. The new Saks Fifth Avenue opened in 1997.
Hines Interests sold the mall in 1999 to a partnership of Urban Shopping Centers, Inc. and institutional funds advised by Walton Street Capital, LLC. The Walton Street affiliated funds separately purchased the office and hotel buildings at this time. Urban, in turn, was purchased by Netherlands-headquartered real estate investment group Rodamco North America, N.V. in 2000. Rodamco sold part of its stake in 2001 to the real estate investment arm of CalPERS as it tried to thwart a hostile takeover by a consortium including The Westfield Group and Simon Property Group. Ultimately unsuccessful in preventing the buyout, Rodamco's ownership interest and management operation of the mall was acquired by Simon Property Group in early 2002.
During all these rapid ownership changes, development continued on a third expansion of the shopping center, known as Galleria IV. Completed in March 2003, it added 800,000 sq ft (74,000 m2) to the south, anchored by Nordstrom and Foley's, as well as an additional 70 stores. Upon completion of Galleria IV, the shopping mall totaled 2.4 million ft² (220,000 m²) of retail space which include many high-end boutiques, such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Kate Spade, Cartier, Carolina Herrera, Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani, Jimmy Choo, Bvlgari, Valentino, Coach, Fendi, Chanel, Christofle, Tiffany & Co. Yves Saint Laurent, Burberry, Versace, Prada, and Tory Burch.
Wikipedia: [Houston Galleria, TX 77056]