Editor’s Note: If it’s the Friday after Thanksgiving, it’s time for shopping in America.
But the long lines, congested parking lots and aggressive bargain-hunters that we’ve come to associate with Black Friday, and now even Thanksgiving Day, don’t necessarily reflect what spending a Friday at the mall was intended to be.
The enclosed mall, a one-stop shopping destination, may have evolved as a matter of suburban convenience, but early indoor malls in America were actually built with the idea of bringing European urbanity to America’s heartland. Austrian-born architect Victor Gruen designed America’s first indoor mall — the Southdale Mall — in Edina, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis. With multiple levels of inward-facing stores sandwiched between competing department stores, it looks like any of the other indoor shopping malls in operation in America today.
As Paul Solman reports on the NewsHour Friday, many indoor malls have closed and stand boarded up and abandoned, relics of a bygone “happy go-spending world.” NewsHour Weekend associate producer Tracy Wholf traveled back to that world when she visited the Southdale Mall earlier this year. Watch her report on the history of indoor malls, and Gruen’s philosophy in particular, above.
— Simone Pathe, Making Sen$e Editor