This week’s Discover Challenge: The Things We Leave Behind
I’ll preface by saying that this isn’t a personal story, but one of a topic I’ve enjoyed cycling back and forth to over the last few years. It fits in well with the idea of something being left behind by time and change, but living on through memories and photographs.
When I think of the things we leave behind with the times and changes in society, life, and culture in general, I can’t help but think of the concept of dead malls.
I know this sounds like a strange topic to discuss, but I went through a brief time of fascination about six years ago with the eerie calm of dead malls, both in the process of dying, and ones that already have. Pictures of empty corridors, overgrown planters, empty and cracked fountains, gates closed on darkened stores, broken skylights, dirty floors, abandoned kiosks, crumbling structures, and empty parking lots. There is a strange beauty about these structures, damaged by time and the elements when finally abandoned. In their last days, people arrive to photograph their imminent demise; upon closing and abandonment, people return to photograph nature’s reclaiming of the structure.
When I began to read up on dead malls (quite the hobby, I know!), I read about legendary dead malls like Dixie Square in Harvey, Illinois, and less famous but still listed malls in Ohio. For some reason, there are so many in Ohio. My search led me to You Tube, and to videos of people visiting malls in decline. Barely any foot traffic, many closed stores, and music playing amid echoes of the few that venture there. Other videos involve malls that are closed and in disrepair, with the people filming it basically trespassing on the vacant property. Again, very eerie, but without music.
Over the years, I’ve cycled back to my fascination with dead malls. As a nostalgia writer, the idea of time and nature destructing a man-made building makes me a little sad. There was once life in the concrete and glass buildings, purchases to be made, food to be eaten, movies to be watched (bonus points if abandoned malls included movie theaters!), and parking lots full of cars. These malls may have been man-made, inorganic structures, but there was a pulse within them. As times change, competition crops up nearby, the economy changes, and sometimes criminal activity begin to dominate,malls begin to decline as a direct (or indirect) consequence. Sometimes, facelifts happen. New stores come in. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Then the mall begins to decline further, until the property management decides to put the dying mall out of its misery.
But for some malls that have ceased to be, new life begins. Some lucky malls are purchased by companies and educational institutions, and the mall gets new life as something entirely different – a reincarnation, if you will. Others, as I said, are eventually knocked down after years of being reclaimed by the very ground they were built upon, only to live on through their legacy, good, bad, or otherwise.
Article Photos: Dixie Square Mall, Harvey Illinois (Sources: Wikicommons, Pinterest, and American Urbex)
Featured Photo: Salem Mall – Sears Department Store, Trotwood, Ohio (Source: Wikicommons)