The Birth of the Mall

July 15, 2011 in Daily Bulletin

Malcolm Gladwell at The New Yorker took a look at the history behind the American mall. Some of the highlights include:

  • Before the 40s American retailers would always have their storefronts face the street so that customers could look into the store and its displays. The revolutionary idea behind the mall was to have a plain exterior and a lively, energetic, air conditioned interior.
  • Other innovations include two storey malls that shortened the distance that shoppers had to walk between any two stores; and an artificial town square park in the centre of the building.
  • Malls often have transparent handrails so that there’s nothing to disrupt the view of the shoppers.
  • Car parks are designed so that there are more parking spaces on higher floors than lower ones because “people flow like water” and are more likely to go down than up. Elevators and escalators are also normally placed at opposite corners so that shoppers have to make a full loop.

Click here to find out more about how Congress inadvertently revived malls soon after it seemed that their dominance in American retail would come to an end; the role that socialism played in their rise; and the anguish that the creator of the mall felt about the global trend that he started.

Source: The New Yorker

Via: Slate