America at the Mall

The Cultural Role of a Retail Utopia


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About the Book

Since the construction of the first fully enclosed shopping center in 1952, the shopping mall has evolved into the heart of many suburban areas across the United States. More than simply a place to purchase goods, this veritable “temple of consumerism” has become a primary place for community and social interaction and an essential element in many citizens’ day-to-day lives.
This study explores the spiritual, emotional and physical effects of the enclosed shopping mall on the public, chronicling the growth of the mall, its role in shaping urban and suburban life, its positive and negative impacts on society and the environment, and its future viability. As this work shows, the mall remains rich in symbolic influence, and in many ways mirrors the American condition.

About the Author(s)

Lisa Scharoun, an assistant professor of graphic design at the University of Canberra, Australia, has published research on the symbolism of shopping malls in the Australasian Journal of Popular Culture and The Conversation. She has exhibited her design, photography and fine art in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and China.

Bibliographic Details

Lisa Scharoun
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 271
Bibliographic Info: 90 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6272-8
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9050-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction      1

1. The Birth of the Mall      7

2. Suburbia and the American Dream      19

3. The Decline of Downtown      32

4. The Mall and Religion      46

5. Main Street      56

6. Teens and the Mall      69

7. Senior Citizens and the Mall      78

8. The Mall as “Public” Space      88

9. The Mall and the Environment      97

10. Dawn of the Dead Mall      108

11. The Rise of the Big Boxes      120

12. Regional Mall Case Studies      134

13. Case Studies: Super-Regional Malls, Lifestyle Centers, and Hybrids      170

14. New Urbanism and the Death of the Urban Mall      198

15. The Future of Public Space in America      225

Notes      233

Bibliography      251

Index      261

Book Reviews & Awards

“This book covers it all…. Recommended”—Choice; “charts the rise and fall of the shopping mall, looking at the mall not just as a commercial site, but as a rich institution of American culture”—Reference & Research Book News.