Fascination: Dead Malls

Urban exploration taken to the next level

The mall. If you were a teenager or well, just about anyone alive between the mid 1970’s to early 2000’s the mall is undoubtedly a familiar place. Me? Yeah it was a destination. I had my favorite shops I ad to stop at over the years in our fabled local mall:

  • Electronics Boutique
  • Babbages
  • KayBee Toys
  • Borders (comics & magazines)
  • Ames Department Store

There were more as the shuffle of spaces ultimately progressed. I think by now some of the spaces have seen well over a dozen different tenants.

But what happens when a mall dries up, when a mall dies? The fact of the matter is that not much actually happens. These monsters of commerce are so massive that the financial burden of both keeping them open and tearing them down is too much.

Image credit Seph Laweless
Image credit Seph Laweless

The fall of the retail giants

Fast forward to post financial collapse America. People don’t shop at malls like they used to. Online retail is the new way and stores are closing. People have lost money or don’t have what they did have 10 years ago. Location and demographics change, as does crime. Mix this together and it is bad news for the mall. The 80’s are a distant memory, the peak of the mall as a meeting place, of commerce, of culture.

The mall is dead.

What happens to these structures once they are hollowed husks? Nothing it seems. Urban explorers have taken up the task of documenting the remains and it is compelling, fascinating stuff.

Dan Bell

This guy has an incredible series on dead malls on YouTube. He has explored numerous spots around the US ranging from still functioning malls with little to no stores to completely abandoned malls (some still standing, some taken by the wrecking ball). The videos are wild to watch, to see the empty storefronts, once bustling but now eerily silent spaces seem something out of a futuristic dystopia.

Out of all of his videos the one that resonated most for me was the abandoned Ames store. The place literally seems to have been open one day then abandoned as is the next. The stocked storage room is even more telling of its demise. They didn’t even bother removing unsold merchandise because it still sits there to this day, a rotting reminder of the past. Rather incredible.

“Seph Lawless”

Another urban explorer more focused on photographing these spaces. The images featured here are all from Lawless and they are eerie and spectacular all at once. The spaces appear so serene and peaceful but in contrast to what was once a busy place of commerce. Seriously incredible work from Lawless and worth checking out.

Images above credit Seph Lawless

Site Footer