The Reincarnation of America's Most Infamous Dead Mall
[American Conservative] AKRON, Ohio‐Rolling Acres Mall in Akron opened in 1975. I was three years old.
Some of my earliest childhood memories are of going to that mall. The mall had only been there for two years, but to a five year old in 1977, it was as permanent and impressive as the pyramids of Egypt.
The mall was huge: two levels, over one million square feet, four anchor department stores, and 140 individual stores. Our family would go to York Steak House for dinner, buy our clothes at O’Neils, buy hardware at Sears, and purchase hi-fidelity stereophonic sound at Radio Shack.
The mall was a center of community and commerce. In the 1970s and 1980s, a family trip, or a 16-year-old’s solo teenage voyage to the mall, was an iconic all-American experience and a rite of passage.
In the mid-1980s, it would have been inconceivable to think that this still practically brand-new mall’s best days were already behind it.
But by the early-1990s, the mall’s fortunes had begun to rapidly fade. And by the mid-2000s, it was nearly empty. The power was turned off in 2008. Soon afterward, the mall went viral on the internet as the ur-example of retail apocalypse and suburban decline.
The hollowed-out husk of what was once a temple to commerce, familial bonding, and teenage freedom rapidly became a post-apocalyptic casualty of late capitalism and a dangerous nuisance. The mall bounced from one absentee-owned LLC to another. The owner(s) stopped paying property taxes.
A man was killed by electrocution trying to steal copper pipe from the mall. An infamous serial killer dumped the body of one of his victims at the site. Photographers, urban explorers, and curiosity seekers descended upon the ruins, drawn by the site’s fall from grace. (Photographer Seph Lawless’ compelling and haunting images of the mall were captured in his book "Autopsy of America.")
Posted by: Besoeker 2019-08-17