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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
Tracy Wholf joined NewsHour Weekend in 2013 as an associate producer and frequently appears on the show as a correspondent covering environmental, educational and cultural stories. She previously worked as a producer and researcher for the TV news magazine program Dan Rather Reports where she earned her first Emmy nomination for a story about human rights issues in Afghanistan. Prior to working in journalism, Tracy spent 10 years as a musical theater performer and danced with the Las Vegas company of “Mamma Mia!” for a year. She is an alumnus of Northwestern University and Columbia University.
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