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://cnclips.net/video/D__6hwqjZAs/video.html

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  • Vox
    Vox  a years ago +806

    For those wondering about title graphic at :33, it's Cecil Robert's — Toto- Africa (playing in an empty shopping centre)! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D__6hwqjZAs

  • Javier L
    Javier L  yesterday

    Dang! This video made me more depressed! 😔

  • sandibabi
    sandibabi  7 days ago

    Less tax on them , they could make them into storage space instead of building storage places . It can also become small office buildings for growing businesses . Some malls can be turned into schools which some have already but in the next decade. They could maybe take away the ceiling and make it a outdoor like shopping center ! they could make transportation from state to state with malls closing down and make the malls into a small train or bus station. There is a parking lot for those who want to travel elsewhere. They should use some European inspiration if they do that. They can also maybe make a mall into a place where movies are filmed! Imagine how many sets can be built in a mall. They could honestly institutionalize some of the malls because some malls have a good design of architecture. Maybe turn it into a hostel for homeless or people that need temporary housing. Some malls are just going to stand there because some counties or states don’t want to pay money to bulldoze it. Malls have so many purposes and if people were willing to figure it out.

  • Les Plus Belle Choses Dans Le Monde

    I believe that many malls are becoming the domain of the rich in many larger cities and metropolitan areas. They're attracting more high end stores in ordee to survive.

  • Vince Aguirre
    Vince Aguirre  7 days ago

    With all the mass shootings happening right now, shopping online seems like the greatest idea

  • Alfredo Alcantar
    Alfredo Alcantar  14 days ago

    Amazon 🎤

  • Marc Dumont
    Marc Dumont  14 days ago

    The 3rd Place would be a great name for a cafe

  • Fabio Giudice
    Fabio Giudice  14 days ago

    Squares! What many US cities lack of are squares. Spaces where people gather spontaneously (and for free), chatting, playing and even drinking, while strolling around the town. And plus to this, they are so beautiful. That’s what I love about my country (Italy) and all of Europe. But that’s a social, cultural and urbanistic issue.

  • Joey Prince
    Joey Prince  14 days ago

    If u live those 3 exact places you r a program like the matrix

  • tanmay yadav
    tanmay yadav  21 days ago

    I dont understand why the malls were hit at the first place

  • giesus christ
    giesus christ  21 days ago

    well here the train has station inside a mall and in that area, there are several mall interconnected by different companies

  • Horseman Secretariat

    Its funny because malls in other countries thrive big time...like in Asia.

  • Raymond Serpa
    Raymond Serpa  21 days ago

    The "Third place" is social media now! : (

  • pinkfreud62
    pinkfreud62  1 months ago

    I grew up with a mall we could walk to in the 70's. Spent alot of time shopping & going to the manatee with family & bff's. Eating at Frenchie's burg & hotdog place & candy at Woothworth's. They still have a couple stores open there, but it's hanging on a limb. Our other mall across the city is still doing OK. I'll always have fond memories of the years we spent at the mall.

  • Mad Watermelon
    Mad Watermelon  1 months ago

    George Carlin hated malls. So he must be looking down and smiling.

  • Nguyen Kaitlyn
    Nguyen Kaitlyn  1 months ago

    I feel awkward not knowing what to say to my date in a mall


    We don’t have malls where I live 😀😀😀😀

  • Ally Salazar
    Ally Salazar  1 months ago

    I go to Culver City Mall and it very poplaur.

  • Udar Pavarota
    Udar Pavarota  1 months ago

    The restaurants.

  • Abraham .A
    Abraham .A  1 months ago

    "Tax incentives"... When it was America's greatest history it was also really America's most progressive history.