Day 38-- Happy birthday, malls! Not.

Well, I'm a few days off. 8 October marked the 50th anniversary of the grand opening of Southdale Center, the first fully-enclosed and climate controlled shopping mall in the US. The first modern mall, in other words.

Southdale was conceived with the goal of making a place for community, a place for people to gather and spend money. It also spawned countless clones across not only the nation, but the world--bigger, more lavish and creative malls.

And while I am a fairly giddy shopper (I am totally not joking about this), I'm also saddened. Shopping malls may ideally be a place to gather and worship shop in the minds of the public, but why aren't communities the primary place for that? That's probably more of a rhetorical question, though; I sort of know my answer for that.

Can you walk to your closest mall? How many locally, privately-owned business call your local mall home? Do you abandon your local mall when your favorite chain store leaves? Do you know the names of the people who work at the stores in your local mall? Do you ever feel like some parents treat malls like giant, semi-hollow babysitters for their teenagers (and their teenage fanclubs?)?

Malls aren't totally bad. And small shops in communities are perfect. And honestly, I'm all about supporting what stores are still left in the Beaver Valley Mall, because it's poised on the fence between boom and bust, and running away from the problem won't help it. But seriously, when has a mall actually replicated the caring, nuturing, loving aspects that spring up in real communities?

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 10/13/2006 10:55:00 PM,


At 3:24 PM, Blogger Keith Martel said...

this is interesting to read as I am studying the Arcades Project. The Parisian arcades were perhaps the forerunner of the mall (19th century). So, as Americans like to do, blame the French.

At 6:57 PM, Blogger Qere Ketiv said...

Keeping with the political climate today, aren't we supposed to say that anything French (such as "French fries") is really "freedom" (as in "Freedom fries")?

To amend your last sentence, then, Keith, "So, as Americans like to do, blame freedom." That sounds about right.


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