In the ’70s and ’80s, the shopping mall was THE place to be. Even in the ’90s and early 2000s, I remember begging my mom to take me and my girlfriends to the mall so we could stalk Forever 21 and take black-and-white pictures in the photo booth and split hot, oily orders of McDonald’s fries at the food court. But with the existence of Amazon and eBay and pretty much any online-version of a store, malls are kind of becoming superfluous and unnecessary. And that reality is becoming glaringly (and eerily) apparent.
According to ABC Australia, it’s predicted that half of America’s malls will close by 2030. Which means a lot less greasy mall food, joke-shopping at Hot Topic, and gagging on the musky cologne Abercrombie & Fitch aggressively pumps through its ventilation system. The expectation is that the future of shopping malls will be malls that cater only to really high-end shoppers, via anchor stores like Saks and Neiman Marcus. The rest? Adios. It’s said that the diminishing middle class is one of the reasons for the swan song of the shopping mall, plus the U.S. is mega “over-retailed.” AKA there are just way too many stores and filling up a mall is now hard work.
The concept of the shopping mall was originally implemented to cater to our needs — more and more people were moving away from cities and living in the suburbs, which meant they were isolated from the things. As a society, we also started wanting more things. Thus, hundreds of malls were erected and we were all happy and life was perfect. But then the Internet happened, and stores in all of the places happened, and the recession happened, and malls just . . . stopped happening.
Also, those very people who spend a lot of money are starting to live in cities again, and would rather not drive if they don’t have to. “People are now looking at other ways of living. Certainly living in cities is much more popular than it has been in a long time. Millennials are fueling the economy like never before and they’re not interested in driving,” ABC Australia reports.
This is kind of a problem, because to accommodate our once-upon-a-time need for malls, 140 structures were commissioned to be built every single year in the U.S., according to ABC News. So, what’s happening with all those thousands of malls? Essentially they’re just being abandoned, leaving behind remnants that now look post-apocalyptic, or like scenes from The Walking Dead. They’re kind of gorgeous in their own decrepit way and many a photographer has noticed that beauty. Here are a few of the images we love. Meet you at the food court? Yeah, I guess not.