The man who invented the shopping mall hated them

Discussion in 'Architecture & Engineering' started by Magical Realist, Aug 22, 2014.

  1. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    "The shopping mall is as American as whaling on an apple pie with a baseball bat, so you probably wouldn't guess that its inventor was an Austrian socialist named Victor Gruen.

    Landing in New York in 1938 after Austria and Germany had gotten a bit too "Hitler" for his Jewish tastes, Gruen looked around and decided that he loved just about everything about his new home, except maybe for its suburbs, considering them butt-ugly wastelands with no community.

    The shopping mall was his plan to civilize that motherfucker. Gruen envisioned a giant building that would house a bunch of shops under one roof and also feature sculptures and music so people had somewhere nice to get out of their stupid cars for a while and actually talk to each other. And buy all the things, of course, or the project wouldn't get funded, but that was beside the point for Gruen. The mall he envisioned was the center of a whole "shopping town," a more sociable and European-like community with schools, parks, and theaters in all the right places.

    When his Southdale Mall opened in 1956 in Edina, Minnesota, it made the local suburbanites feel like goddamned pharaohs.

    Noooo! You Maniacs!

    So how did the mall go from Little Vienna on the prairie to somewhere zombie hordes congregate when they're feeling metaphorical? Mostly a change in tax laws.

    In the 1950s, the U.S. government finally acknowledged that stuff breaks down, allowing businesses to set aside some tax-free money for a rainy day. This meant that complex, money-eating projects like shopping malls suddenly became much safer investments. Soon, greedy ripoffs of Gruen's vision sprouted everywhere, and because of the lack of risk, they said "Screw you" to the man's financially sound and aesthetically pleasing socialist vision, instead wanting their shopping malls to be bigger, gaudier, and built on the cheapest land you could buy, way, way outside of town.

    North Dakota wasn't even a state until people built a mall there in 1958.

    America had Temple of Doom-ed the heart of downtown from the suburbs, leaving just a "gigantic shopping machine." Years later, Gruen distanced himself from the modern shopping malls, commenting on them bitterly: "I refuse to pay alimony for those bastard developments." Man, how do you think he felt when, after coming back to Vienna, he discovered that the city had just acquired a brand new shopping mall? That wasn't a joke."

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    So European!
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  3. Stryder Keeper of "good" ideas. Valued Senior Member

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  5. Stryder Keeper of "good" ideas. Valued Senior Member

    Oh dear.....
    Looks like someone's source is wrong.
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  7. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

  8. sculptor Valued Senior Member


    a really old concept---many centuries old

    When my sons were teens, they would "go malling". The mall was a gathering place for teens, especially during winter.
  9. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

  10. Stryder Keeper of "good" ideas. Valued Senior Member

    Indeed. In hot area's it always made sense to cover the market stalls from direct sun. If a town/city was large enough then this would be a fixture rather than just a awning, then of course you'd have peddler's "paying" to fit in the fitted area or be pushed out to the edges with their own canopies which didn't necessarily stand weathering as well. I guess you can say it's the evolution of the market place.
  11. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member


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    This is a street that people were using to shop along. This was built 8500 years ago so it was the first shopping center/mall that was known.

    I am 8500 years old... the city of Homer

    İzmir: The pearl of the west, is Turkey’s third largest city and one of the most important port cities. It has a great nature and a rich historical and cultural heritage.

    Also known as Old İzmir, Smyrna, built on an islet of hundred acres flourished into a great center of civilization over time. Established about 8500 years ago, the city is now home to a variety of world heritages.

    The largest city of the Roman Empire which set an example to other ancient cities, Ephesus with its architectural and cultural landmarks is one of the most visited regions near to Selcuk in İzmir province.

    The city is known as “beautiful İzmir” as it is blessed with numerous scenic beauties and is under the effect of the Mediterranean climate. The summer is hot and dry where as the winter is mild. Lush for all seasons, İzmir is one of the biggest pine nut production areas.

    One of the most beautiful descriptions of this city was made by Herodotus, who was also from İzmir: “they have founded the city under the most beautiful sky and the best climate that we know on Earth.” Thus, the city has earned its place in history.

    I was there last year and saw the merchants "stalls" and food courts along with amphitheatres to keep the crowds entertained. Very well laid out for when it was built.

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