What America’s shopping mall decline means for social space

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The mall was Americaโ€™s third place โ€” for better or for worse.
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Our lives are lived in 1 of 3 places, the home, the workplace and the โ€œthird place,โ€ 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 โ€” an immigrant architect created the first mall in the vision that it would be a community gathering place.
The plan didnโ€™t work out as he intended. While malls did take off, they more often than not couldnโ€™t quite catch on as ideal โ€œthird places.โ€ But with an estimated 25% of shopping malls expected to close in the next five years, thereโ€™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 โ€”ย 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 โ€˜retail apocalypseโ€™ 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__6hwqjZAs
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Caption: Where are you going this outfit with . this hair hello bye bye i am so at the . mall between 1970 and 2017 the number of . american malls quadrupled population . didn't even double in the same timeframe . so yeah malls were opening really really . fast that growth slowed down about a . quarter of those malls that are left and . closed in the next five years some . people call this the death of the mall . and that's kind of true here's why that . matters our lives are lived in one of . three places the first is the home . second is your place of work and the . third place well that's any social space . outside of those first two there are . eight qualities that make for great . third places it sounds kind of academic . but trust me you know it when you see . them the best third places invite. conversation they're close to home and . lots of time can be spent without . spending a lot of money these are places . where people can exchange ideas have a . good time and build relationships in the . 1950s america had a problem their . brand-new suburbs. lacked quality third places this guy . wanted to solve that problem so he . designed the first enclosed shopping . mall. the format caught on like wildfire. fueled by tax incentives to build new . developments that included malls soon . shopping centers were built by the dozen . over the next 50 years there were over . 1,000 enclosed shopping malls scattered . across the states they became the . hangout for america's youth the thing . about that is even victor grew and . admitted his design was a monumental. failure because when you look at the . qualities of great third places malls . deliver on some but not all they're safe . and well-lit no one has to play host at . the mall and they're accessible no . matter the weather but on the flip side . you can't really walk to the mall you . need a car and once you're there. conversation should be the main activity . in a mall that's shopping the third . places should make everyone feel equal . the mall is more fun for the rich now . contrast that with a different take on . the third place the national mall in . washington dc it's open for long hours . the mood is playful it's free you can . visit with a short walk or by public . transportation with indoor and outdoor . public spaces and that adds up to an . environment that fosters community when . you look at these two side-by-side which . would you choose . [music]. while some malls are being repurposed . others are just getting torn down this . is in part because of the recession in . 2008 while more than 90% of purchases in . the united states are still made in . physical stores more and more people are . getting their goods online and we aren't . just shopping online our relationships . and connections are going digital as . well more than three and four people in . the united states has a smartphone when . social media is used to actively connect . with others it can be like a digital . third place but studies like this one . show that some digital communication can . affect your mental or even physical . health the mall occupies a unique space . in america's conscience and that's . largely because we have an innate need . for face-to-face contact and in some . areas the mall was that place but as . more malls shut down so too are other . third places and the replacements often . have little stake in the local community . but there is a better way consider the . public beaches and downtown detroit or . the redevelopment of bryant park in new. york city or you could just support a . locally owned coffee shop the decline of. the mall doesn't need to be the death of. the third place it's up to us to decide . where those spaces will be . you . .
 

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