A shopping mall is defined as a collection of shops usually in one main building or close series of buildings. It would seem that shopping malls date back to at least the 10th century when it is said that Isfahan's Grand Bazaar in Iran was founded (the current buildings date to the 17th century). The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey was built in the 15th century and is still one of the biggest covered markets in the world.
In the Western world, modern-day shopping malls trace their roots to the mid-19th Century covered rows of shops known as arcades, such as the Royal Opera Arcade (Britain's oldest built in 1818) which was closely followed by others such as the more famous Burlington Arcade which opened in London in 1819. Other notable early arcades include the Providence Arcade, Rhode Island (1828) and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, Italy (1860s).
In the USA, a fair number of shopping centers were built during the first half of the 20th century, but it wasn't until the 1950s that the first fully enclosed shopping mall appeared. Shoppers could park, shop, and eat in one inside location in perceived safety. In the UK, there are many in-town shopping centers, usually built in place of the older shopping districts, but in the USA, in-town shopping has given way to the perceived convenience of driving to out of town shopping areas.
However, as O'Flynn implies in her book, it is questionable whether shopping malls are safer and it is certain that they do not provide the one-on-one shopping experience that neighborhood shops offer. What at first seemed like a more convenient shopping option has developed into a larger social force: the overwhelming popularity of the shopping mall has re-oriented communities around large, impersonal shopping experiences that impact the fabric of communities once tied to local, personal shopping experiences.
This article is from the July 11, 2008 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.
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