What America's shopping mall decline means for social space

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  • Published on:  Friday, April 6, 2018
  • The mall was America’s third place — for better or for worse.

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    Our lives are lived in 1 of 3 places, the home, the workplace and the “third place,” which is anywhere outside of those two.

    Toward the end of the 20th century, the regional shopping mall had become that third place, the hang-out spot in suburban America. This was largely by design — an immigrant architect created the first mall in the vision that it would be a community gathering place.

    The plan didn’t work out as he intended. While malls did take off, they more often than not couldn’t quite catch on as ideal “third places.” But with an estimated 25% of shopping malls expected to close in the next five years, there’s an opportunity to re-examine where Americans spend their time and what could be the next iteration of the third place.

    Further reading for those interested in this subject, I recommend the following books and articles:

    Ray Oldenburg's The Great Good Place — he coined the term 'third place' and set the theory for the 8 qualities mentioned in this video: https://www.amazon.com/Great-Good-Place-Bookstores-Community/dp/1569246815

    New Yorker's 2006 profile of the creator of regional shopping malls: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2004/03/15/the-terrazzo-jungle

    On the role US tax policy played in the shopping-center boom of the 1950s and 1960s: https://www.jstor.org/stable/2169635?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

    & Vox's Matt Ylgesias on the coming ‘retail apocalypse’ in the states: https://www.vox.com/new-money/2017/5/4/15124038/regional-mall-apocalypse

    p.s. here is Toto's Africa (playing in an abandoned shopping centre) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D__6h...

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  • Source: https://youtu.be/oooVC3zfDc8


  • Vox

     (Apr 6, 2018)

    For those wondering about title graphic at :33, it's Cecil Robert's — Toto- Africa (playing in an empty shopping centre)! https://www.okclips.net/video/D__6hwqjZAs/video.html

  • Voidisyinyang Voidisyinyang

     (Sep 6, 2018)

    For those wondering - it's "Southdale" mentioned as the first mall - in Minnesota - where the MegaMall is also. And malls are part of the Geography of Nowhere (book by James Kunstler). Try sitting on the floor in a mall and reading - where the light is nice and bright (you might get threatened with arrest). Or try protesting against all the clothes sold in malls made by young female slaves - then the "shoppers" might get too "scared" or - the mall cops might slash your tir...

  • nze

     (Aug 24, 2018)

    Why not just convert normal airports into a hybrid airport with mall inside?

  • Cecil Robert

     (Apr 6, 2018)

    Hey, I made that Africa edit you used in the title. I don't mind you using it at all, but I'd appreciate it if you credited me.

  • polifatts

     (Dec 20, 2018)

    +Cecil Robert You missed your chance to sue Vox for millions.

  • Penguinexpress

     (Apr 7, 2018)

    Did I hear Toto from Africa?

  • Alex Cruz

     (Aug 12, 2018)

    Oh you did ohhhh

  • Canadian Crafter

     (Aug 11, 2018)

    lol i was going to comment on this too

  • theproducermic

     (Apr 9, 2018)

    This video was mad boring. Felt like being at a mall in 2018. lol.

  • Dustin Ducote

     (Dec 26, 2018)

    and this video doesn't have mad 'bed bath and beyond' coupons on its' floor either.

  • theDARK Pototoy

     (Apr 7, 2018)

    The mall? I haven’t heard any one say those words in years.

  • Joe Mancini

     (Nov 11, 2018)

    +Zeus Alexander the last time I think I heard Zeus Alexander was 20 years ago, long time.......

  • Zeus Alexander

     (Aug 13, 2018)

    I have not heard of Pigeon Man in a long time either...

  • Steven D

     (Apr 7, 2018)

    Malls also have outrageously high rent per square foot. Only tenants that can afford it are big brands. And even they can’t seem to cope with the prices. Let alone a local with high hopes having a prayer of making it work out.

  • mako

     (Apr 6, 2018)

    where are we gonna hold out against the zombos when all the malls are gone? that's what i wanna know.

  • Kevin Davis

     (Dec 10, 2018)

    In your basement

  • Jonathan Francis

     (Jul 15, 2018)

    luis flores top 5 answers of all time

  • www.GPcarAudio.com

     (Apr 7, 2018)

    Support your local dive bars. The winning 3rd place.

  • Christine Tran

     (Dec 24, 2018)

    Lol agreed!!!

  • Ryan Carson

     (Sep 26, 2018)

    Exactly the night club culture is gone as well. Night life districts have shrunk to a fraction of their size. I travel constantly. Todays clubs suck in every way. And they're usually much smaller.

  • Xario1

     (Apr 8, 2018)

    Recently I have found that a growing "3rd place" is the virtual space. As someone who lives literally in the middle of nowhere, I have had a hard time making friends with the small community that exists here in real life, as many of the people here have very different views and opinions than I do, so when I found VRChat, it felt like I finally found a place where I can make some friends and hang out with people, even if it is in a virtual space and they are actually miles upon miles away.

  • republicansridiots

     (Dec 27, 2018)

    i was about to say something like that too. twitch is becoming that 3rd place too, as well as discord & twitter.

  • Susana Pimentel

     (Sep 12, 2018)

    The problem with this third place is that it's not easily accessible to everyone. A large part is due to the price of technology and internet, and even as technology prices decrease as advancements are made, how we receive internet still hasn't improved. I have a good computer on which i like to play videogames and could play online with others, but my internet connection isnt good enough to do that so i often play alone. Where I live the internet cost is ridiculous, and I have to pay double what peopl...

  • MissMiia

     (Apr 7, 2018)

    Can you do an essay on why in the Philippines, Malls are the best choice of the people for social interactions. Three (or is it 4) of the largest malls in the world is located in the Philippines. And despite how large they are, it's always packed with people. Maybe it's because they have just about everything 🤔 ice skating rinks, outdoor parks, small theme park, a church... yeah probaby that.

  • Blanco

     (Jan 24, 2019)

    Ella Komiya that’s funny, in Luxembourg we go to the mall when it’s cold outside, raining or snowing

  • The Dreamtasiticconsole

     (Nov 8, 2018)

    The uk malls are fine