The Flatlands of Suburbia: Abandoned Shopping Malls of America


When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time at the mall. I had two sets of parents and lots of grandparents, but pretty much everyone I knew loved to go to the mall. No matter who I was with, a lot of early evening conversations went like this:

“What should we do tonight?”

“Uh… why don’t we go to the mall?”


The mall was the place to be, and the only big decision was: which one?

Starting from a young age, whenever I went to the mall with some sort of chaperone, I’d usually be turned loose with an admonishment to make sure I returned to the designated meeting place at a certain time. I spent most of the remaining hours in the video game arcades (of course), but I also enjoyed taking loops around each level of the whole building.

It feels weird to think of it now. These days, I hate malls. I do 90% of my shopping online. The prices are lower, the selection of goods far wider, and the whole process is much more efficient.

But it’s not just that shopping online is better; there’s something about the whole mall experience that is fundamentally unattractive. Even though I spent so much time in them as a kid, the sense of nostalgia I feel whenever I have to visit a mall for something is net negative.

This photo series (part of a new book by artist and activist Seph Lawless) explores the decay of shopping malls in suburban America.

I wonder what people in the future will think about this age of consumerism. Even now it feels alien and ancient.

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Photos by Seph Lawless

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