Kogarah Town Centre was described as "the most depressing shopping centre in the world" in a media report on its sale at a loss in 2009.
But, ahead of its opening on November 18, 1975, the centre was promoted as "a place that you'll adore".
The building containing 47 shops was constructed above the train station at a cost of cost of $7 million.
Shoppers who flocked to the gala opening were given the chance to win a new Holden Gemini.
They were entertained by popular 2UW breakfast announcer Malcolm T. Elliott, Humphrey B. Bear, the Super Flying Fun Show, fashion parades, and a baby show.
Transport Minister Max Ruddock ''travelled to Kogarah in one of the newest railway carriages'' to perform the official opening, the Leader reported.
Mr Ruddock said Jennings Industries had shown courage and determination in continuing with the project after the building sector had been hit with recession.
Kogarah mayor Fred Cavanagh said the council had first proposed the project to the Railways Department in 1966.
Hurstville shopkeepers responded to the new competition with a big advertising supplement and a Saturday morning parade and carnival.
A $250,000 upgrade of Kogarah Town Centre was carried out just five years after its opening.
In 2013, a $25 million redevelopment was completed by new owners, with a new Aldi supermarket and a refurbished Woolworths supermarket among the improvements.
The future of the centre is uncertain, with the state government examining an unsolicited proposal for a redevelopment, which would include three 19-storey apartment towers.
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