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The prints left behind
October 7, 2010 4:14 AM   Subscribe

Labelscar aims to chronicle the ghostboxes of America - the stripped carcasses of malls and out-of-town retail parks left over once the forclosure buzzards have moved in. And there's a lot of them about. (On the endangered list).

Previously
posted by mippy (26 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
I love a dead mall. Thanks, mippy.
posted by box at 4:53 AM on October 7, 2010


Needs more zombies.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:57 AM on October 7, 2010


fourcheesemac: "Needs more zombies."

They finally evicted the zombies from the Monroeville Mall.
posted by octothorpe at 5:08 AM on October 7, 2010


No mosque on our dead mall!
posted by pracowity at 5:10 AM on October 7, 2010


More places to throw raves!
posted by empath at 5:27 AM on October 7, 2010


Nice, from Octothorpe's article:
"We love our zombie friends, but we just don't want things to get out of control."
I'd have thought that was implied...
posted by librarianamy at 5:29 AM on October 7, 2010


Dead malls leave me kinda cold. Whereas a good church ruin, or abandoned asylum, factory or oil rig all are interesting in their own right, an abandoned mall scarcely gets a second glance from me. I think it has to do with what the structure was when occupied. All those I mentioned hold the possibility that something interesting once happened there, or that it was a place filled with life. A working mall is utterly soulless, and an abandoned one even more so.
posted by Harald74 at 5:56 AM on October 7, 2010


The new Oldsmobiles are in early this year!
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:13 AM on October 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


I cannot count the hours I spent at Eastland Mall as a teen. I was 9 when it opened, the first big retail space in east Charlotte, and it was fancy--ice-skating rink, food court, Belk's glass elevator! By the time I got to high school, many, many of my friends worked there, and it was the place to hang out, a real Americana stereotype. For years, whenever I'd visit home, I'd drop by Eastland and was sure to run into someone I knew. Sad to see it go.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:36 AM on October 7, 2010


I know that most malls are simply dressed-up warehouses surrounded by asphalt, but when I look at one, especially one of the fancy multi-level jobs, I can't help but think that they could somehow be put to good use.

Most were designed as synthetic "communities", with their open spaces mimicking the town square or village common, so it seems a short leap to convert dead malls into real communities by adding residences, light industry, schools, daycare, sports areas, etc etc.

Wouldn't a dead mall make a great school or college campus?
posted by Artful Codger at 6:43 AM on October 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


I find it oddly depressing when shops go bust and then the signs to sell off fixtures and fittings go up. There's probably a German word for it that incorporates both pathos and an unhealthy preoccupation with retailing in Western society.
posted by mippy at 6:44 AM on October 7, 2010


Pathosundeineungesundebeschäftigungmiteinzelhandelinderwestlichengesellschaft.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:49 AM on October 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


How much would it cost to rent a typical mall store space? It's weird to me that no dependable alternative use comes up.
posted by pracowity at 6:52 AM on October 7, 2010


took my baby down to the mall
but the mall was dead, the mall was dead
"can't buy nuthin' here, sweet daddy"
was what she said, was what she said
i'd promised her a new dress, people
and a pair of shoes, a pair of shoes
now all i got is a bad case, y'all
of the dead mall blues, the dead mall blues
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:16 AM on October 7, 2010


Office space? Classrooms? Homes? Hotels? Gyms? Band practice rooms? Retirement villages?
posted by pracowity at 7:34 AM on October 7, 2010


The weirdest time to go to my local mall is at the opening hour in the morning. There's hundreds of old geezers wearing running shoes doing walking laps at around .5 miles per hour. This happens when the weather outside is stunning beautiful. I suppose they are afraid of muggers and unleashed dogs in the park.
posted by bukvich at 7:43 AM on October 7, 2010


Good riddance.
posted by schmod at 7:53 AM on October 7, 2010


Classrooms?

That was the rumor for one of the malls on this list - I grew up in that area and the rumor was that the mall owners were raising the rent to run out the locally owned smaller shops in order to vacate the mall and put in a business institute. One of the anchor stores, a JC Penneys, tried to relocate into a rush to build new strip mall, and then the land settled on that property and the foundations cracked. There are two rumors about that strip mall development - that the new developers went bankrupt and that the buildings are condemned. So the ghost mall now is completely empty save for a few of the larger anchors - including the Penneys that came back, but you can't enter the mall at all.

A mall near downtown Pittsburgh had been in decay for many years, being predominantly only a tourist destination, now has a business school located through a significant portion of it. It's changed the dynamic completely, but considering the mall was a refurbished train station in the first place, it's nice to see it still being used at all.
posted by librarianamy at 8:18 AM on October 7, 2010


Most were designed as synthetic "communities", with their open spaces mimicking the town square or village common, so it seems a short leap to convert dead malls into real communities by adding residences, light industry, schools, daycare, sports areas, etc etc.

i don't think it's a very short leap. you would be talking more about rebuilding than using what is already there. as these malls declined financially, the first thing to go was maintenance, so they've been allowed to deteriorate. the spaces are huge and not particularly amenable to partitioning, which would be required for any of these kinds of groups to even afford utilities; and then you're likely still physically attached to decaying structures. i don't see how it would work unless another mall-company-like entity came into to completely rebuild and control the space, and they wouldn't do that unless they could get money on high rents, which was the reason these groups couldn't afford to be in malls in the first place.

my hometown in georgia (which should have remained nameless all along) is a cesspool of abandoned strip malls; but that was the development strategy. a shiny new strip mall would open and would become popular; two or three years later a new one would open up across or down the street; within a couple years the first one would be falling apart and some weird church would be moved in. creepily, the path of this progress over the course of the past three decades reflects the migration of suburban white people to the new trendy parts of town as the formerly trendy parts became more occupied by black people; not to mention how clearly the speed of it illustrates that the boomers gave pretty much no thought or care to the idea that the world would need to continue after them.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 8:55 AM on October 7, 2010


From Marketplace, just this morning is the story of a mall in St. Louis with only one store left. A one-man shoe repair store.
posted by rusty at 9:03 AM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pity none of these sites stream the Talking Heads' "(Nothing But) Flowers" as background music during picutre viewing. Great links - thanks.
posted by twsf at 9:08 AM on October 7, 2010


In the United States, all construction is temporary.
posted by Xoebe at 12:06 PM on October 7, 2010


The new Oldsmobiles are in early this year!

There was a good write-up on Dixie Square Mall in 2005, but most of the links are dead, though the Google Maps aerial view is still a sight to behold.

It would be interesting to see more of these malls from above, as I was going to guess that part of the reason they died was they homed to thrive on the edges of a town, while the town changed direction. Dixie Square Mall is surrounded by what look to be living neighborhoods (though there are a number of abandoned buildings surrounded by unmaintained parking lots, cracked so significantly as to be clearly seen from above).
posted by filthy light thief at 12:15 PM on October 7, 2010


ghostboxes? Those malls look absolutely lavish compared to some throughout the country.

Saginaw, Michigan, my hometown, has a blog dedicated to its decaying retail spaces: Saginaw for Sale. Saginaw is a post-GM industrial city, originally built around auto-parts, like many in Michigan. It was recently designated the #1 most violent city in the country by the FBI. For the seventh year in a row.

Here's a Google Image search restricted to the site for a visual summary: Google Image search of Saginaw for Sale.

For a personal touch, this unique storefront was Dawn Donuts, a local donut shop with a wonderful old neon sign. My family used to stop here on Sunday mornings and get a dozen donuts.
posted by formless at 4:27 PM on October 7, 2010


From Marketplace, just this morning is the story of a mall in St. Louis with only one store left. A one-man shoe repair store.

In all fairness, we called Northwest Plaza "the dying mall" when we last lived near it 5 years ago. And it was at least half-empty 3 or 4 years before that. It's died a slow death, not completely brought on by the recent economic yuckiness. So have many local businesses.

A lot of the development in that area (as my wife points out) was undertaken with the expectation that just being near an airport would automatically mean business would boom. It didn't.
posted by Foosnark at 8:57 PM on October 7, 2010


I was going to guess that part of the reason they died was they homed to thrive on the edges of a town, while the town changed direction.

There are a few cases around here in New England where the old industrial buildings that had prime locations were torn down and new malls were built there as part of redevelopment. The old malls which had outskirts locations and 70's decor just got left by the wayside. Often torn down and replaced with a big box shopping center with a Walmart / Staples / etc.
posted by smackfu at 6:20 AM on October 8, 2010


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