Friday, December 05, 2008


So which mall came first?

My fellow former Minnesotan Jason Kottke wrote about Edina's Southdale, which we in Minnesota were always told was the first-ever fully enclosed shopping mall, and got a lot of mail from folks disputing it. Many were from Seattle, supporting Northgate Mall's claim. Here's a list of early and/or prominent malls.

The weird thing, aside from the fact that one mall has "South" in the name and the other "North," is that Northgate is now the mall closest to my Seattle home, and in our last house, just on the border between Southwest Minneapolis and Edina, Southdale was just down the street. So the two historic malls are both malls I can call my own.

Mall of America is also of interest, of course. I was working at Mpls. St. Paul Magazine when it was built, and one day got to go out there with my boss when it was under construction...we had to wear hard hats and walked through a tangled, half-constructed work site that would later become Macy's or Nordstrom. I know a lot of people who have a seemingly unfounded hatred for the Megamall, but I find it fun, chock full of pop-culture goodness and always offering something new and zany.


Anonymous said...

The Arcade in Cleveland is recognized as one of the first indoor shopping malls, and it opened in 1890. It still operates in downtown Cleveland.

Anonymous said...

Southdale Mall

Southdale, Edina, 1956. Location no. MH5.9 ED3.1 p17Southdale Shopping Center, located in Edina, Minnesota, was the first totally enclosed shopping center in the nation. In 1952, its developers, the Dayton family, long-established Minneapolis department store merchants, commissioned the architecture firm Victor Gruen & Associates to create a new form designed to reflect and serve changing patterns of suburban living. The master plan combined elements of the village green, of European city centers, and of elegant arcades and gallerias, in a constant temperature-controlled enclosure. When Southdale opened in 1956, it included 72 stores, and was anchored by two major department stores, all arranged in a two-level design around a brightly lighted center court. It offered free parking, and its 5000 parking spaces were grouped into lots, well marked by clever symbols to aid in locating one's own in the sea of cars. Not only did Southdale Shopping Center fulfill the vision of its creators as a center of commerce and of social life for suburban residents, it also fueled suburban growth and became a much-imitated model.

Kitten said...

The page didn't even mention the King of Prussia mall which has more retail space than the Mall of America! :) (Since I live only ten mintues from KoP, I have some serious love for it.)