Remember Jake and Elwood literally driving through their local shopping mall, delighted that it now housed a Pier One? Or Wyatt and Gary finally achieving a moment of teenage cool, only to have it destroyed by a red Icee raining down on their heads? And who can forget the epic opening title sequence to Cameron Crowe’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High? Yes boys and girls, there once was a time when the big screen simply reflected what the world firmly believed: that if something was happening, it was happening at your local mall.
A generation ago, these one-stop Shangri-las of food courts, multiplexes, anchor stores, and fake plants were still sprouting up all across America, promising to be a new kind of lifestyle altering cultural-commerical crossroads, equal parts vast Persian marketplace and great Parisian salon. And if you think that’s hyperbole, gettaloadathis:
The feature attraction in that video opened exactly thirty years ago. I can attest that today it’s still alive and kicking, unlike some of the spots in this photo collection of abandoned shopping malls recently published on FastCoexist.com — images that provide a great sense of what a One Day Sale would look like if it was held at the End of Days. Clearly not every utopian indoor shopping concept blossomed into a world famous attraction like the Mall of America, where legions still flock to ride one of the planet’s few roller coasters covered by skylights rather than sky.
For the rest of the malls in America, the up and down ride through our hearts continues. And while you can continue to expect long lines at the nearby mall when Kris Kringle or Peter Cottontail are in the house, history has shown that developing an over-dependence on the Christmas and Easter crowds can transform a spirited community house into a temple of fund raisers. Even those magnets once fit for the silver screen eventually lose their drawing power. And when they do, sometimes all that’s left is plenty of good parking.