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Remember the Mall in the Blues Brothers Movie: America’s Dead Shopping Malls – Abandoned & Crumbling

Martin Chalakoski
Left: The Blues Brothers drove through here in the movie. Zol87, CC BY-SA 2.0 Right: Cloverleaf Fountain Plaza, abandoned and left to decay. Will Fisher, CC BY-SA 2.0

Unfilled parking lots, empty stores, dead silent halls and not one salesman in sight. Only the sound of the wind and rain that runs through the void. This is the state and the eerie atmosphere in some of America’s dead shopping malls, signifying a powerful symbol of America’s economic decline at the start of the 21st century.

They are popping up all over and in every state, especially in the Midwest. This is where the decline was mostly felt, customer’s bank accounts almost completely drained, consequently, furthering the “going out of business” process.

Inside the abandoned Cloverleaf Mall in Chesterfield, VA.Author: Will Fisher CC BY-SA 2.0

Inside the abandoned Cloverleaf Mall in Chesterfield, VA.Author: Will Fisher CC BY-SA 2.0

A dead mall is basically a shopping mall that has fallen on hard times. It either has few shops and fewer shoppers or it’s abandoned and crumbling into ruin. The ones that are still open, even when the notice for closing is not announced yet, you kinda get that ominous feeling that something is gonna happen, like its the end of the road.

Often found with three or four shops left open and without large department stores to serve as an attraction for entrance to the mall, they are just left to struggle with the inevitable, the upcoming wrecking ball.

Dead mall after demolition. The building used to house a Kmart, movie theater, arcade and more in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Currently, it’s an empty lot waiting for a big box home store that may or may not come. Author: Simon Thalmann CC BY 2.0

Dead mall after demolition. The building used to house a Kmart, movie theater, arcade and more in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Currently, it’s an empty lot waiting for a big box home store that may or may not come. Author: Simon Thalmann CC BY 2.0

Apocalyptic, utterly depressing and really, really creepy, these are some of the examples of pure urban decay, showcasing the insane side of man consumerism in the best of ways:

Dixie Square Mall, Harvey, Illinois

Famous for having been used for one of the most memorable scenes of the iconic 1980 film ‘The Blues Brothers, Dixie Square Shopping Center, located in Harvey, Illinois, United States began as a bustling center of commerce but went bust after only 13 years, and stood vacant for 30 years after closure.

Exterior of Dixie Square Mall in Harvey, Illinois – Blues Brothers (Movie Location) Author: A Syn CC BY-SA 2.0

Exterior of Dixie Square Mall in Harvey, Illinois – Blues Brothers (Movie Location) Author: A Syn CC BY-SA 2.0

The main characters, Elwood Blues (Dan Aykroyd) and “Joliet” Jake Blues (John Belushi) being chased madly by the police drive into the mall completely trashing the place. What they leave behind is a completely wrecked suburban shopping center and that’s the image of the place 30 years after.

The Blues Brothers drove through here in the movie. Author: Zol87 CC BY-SA 2.0

The Blues Brothers drove through here in the movie. Author: Zol87 CC BY-SA 2.0

 

Image of “Block B” of Dixie Square Mall – The interior is completely wrecked, left to rot. Author: Jonrev CC BY-SA 3.0

Image of “Block B” of Dixie Square Mall – The interior is completely wrecked, left to rot. Author: Jonrev CC BY-SA 3.0

Characterized by high vacancy rates and low business, this 800,000 square foot shopping mall sat rotting for 30 years as a shelter for gangs and gang activity outside Chicago. Ah, sweet home Chicago.

In January 2012, the demolition process for Dixie Square Shopping Center finally started.Author: Rickdrew CC BY-SA 3.0

In January 2012, the demolition process for Dixie Square Shopping Center finally started.Author: Rickdrew CC BY-SA 3.0

After more than one murder, rapes and arson attacks and in addition to a $76 million failed redevelopment attempt, the Chicago community had enough and tore the place down on May 17, 2012.

Cloverleaf Mall, Chesterfield, Central Virginia

Cloverleaf Mall was located in Chesterfield County just outside of Richmond City in Central Virginia. It opened on a high note as Richmond’s first regional mall in 1972 with many anchors (huge department stores) such as Sears, JC Penney, and Thalhimers and many, many smaller ones including a Hallmark store, LaVogue women’s clothing store and two cinema theaters.

When it first opened, it was a very special place for many but started to decline when the newer Chesterfield town center, about 5 miles West down Midlothian Turnpike, started to grow. Sears and Penneys closed their doors due to falling footfall and moved their stores in the new and rapidly expanding center.

Outside the abandoned Cloverleaf Mall in Chesterfield, VA.Author: Will Fisher CC BY-SA 2.0

Outside the abandoned Cloverleaf Mall in Chesterfield, VA.Author: Will Fisher CC BY-SA 2.0

It took a turn for the worse in 1996 when two of the employees of the mall’s All for One dollar store were shot and killed in the stockroom and one lady went missing from the parking lot. Both crimes were never solved. From there on, the mall’s attendance and traffic started decaying rapidly and in a quick succession Cloverleaf virtually became a ghost town.

Inside the abandoned Cloverleaf Mall in Chesterfield, VA.Author: Will Fisher CC BY-SA 2.0

Inside the abandoned Cloverleaf Mall in Chesterfield, VA.Author: Will Fisher CC BY-SA 2.0

Abandoned Clover Leaf Food Court. Author: Will Fisher CC BY-SA 2.0

Abandoned Clover Leaf Food Court. Author: Will Fisher CC BY-SA 2.0

Cloverleaf Fountain Plaza, abandoned and left to decay.Author: Will Fisher CC BY-SA 2.0

Cloverleaf Fountain Plaza, abandoned and left to decay.Author: Will Fisher CC BY-SA 2.0

Abandoned Department Store in Cloverleaf Mall in Chesterfield, VA.Author: Will Fisher CC BY-SA 2.0

Abandoned Department Store in Cloverleaf Mall in Chesterfield, VA.Author: Will Fisher CC BY-SA 2.0

Remains of the abandoned and now demolished Cloverleaf Mall in Chesterfield.Author: Will Fisher CC BY-SA 2.0

Remains of the abandoned and now demolished Cloverleaf Mall in Chesterfield.Author: Will Fisher CC BY-SA 2.0

The mall being left with so many empty blocks for so long eventually closed in 2008, and with no future ahead, it was demolished in 2011.

Randall Park Mall, Ohio

Randall Park Mall was a shopping mall located in the village of North Randall, Ohio, developed with a vision to be “city within a city”. When it opened in 1976, it was the largest shopping center in the world with 200 shops, three 14-story apartments, two 20-story office buildings, three screen cinema, performing arts center and 5,000 planned employees in a municipality that counted as much as 1,500 people. The original department store anchors of the mall were Sears, JC Penney, May Company, Higbee’s, and Horne’s.

JCPenney – Randall Park Mall.Author: Mike Kalasnik CC BY-SA 2.0

JCPenney – Randall Park Mall.Author: Mike Kalasnik CC BY-SA 2.0

Magic Johnson Theaters – Randall Park Mall.Author: Mike Kalasnik CC BY-SA 2.0

Magic Johnson Theaters – Randall Park Mall.Author: Mike Kalasnik CC BY-SA 2.0

Macy’s – Randall Park Mall. Author: Mike Kalasnik CC BY-SA 2.0

Macy’s – Randall Park Mall. Author: Mike Kalasnik CC BY-SA 2.0

Burlington Coat Factory – Randall Park Mall.Author: Mike Kalasnik CC BY-SA 2.0

Burlington Coat Factory – Randall Park Mall.Author: Mike Kalasnik CC BY-SA 2.0

At those times, Randall Park Mall wasn’t just a place to go, it was the place to go. But, despite the mall’s importance to the town, Randall Park shut its doors on March 12th, 2009 and with a large portion of it in the rubble, it was finally demolished in 2014.

Abandoned portion and empty hallways of Randall Park, the gorgeous mall of the 80s and very early 90s. Author: Eddie~S CC BY 2.0

Abandoned portion and empty hallways of Randall Park, the gorgeous mall of the 80s and very early 90s. Author: Eddie~S CC BY 2.0

It is said that the real problem for the demise of this gorgeous and beautifully envisioned shopping center was the difficulty for security to keep up with the thugs and thieves who overran the huge multi-structure establishment spread over 2,000,000 square feet. The people who came to spend money, being constantly harassed and with their safety on the line, stopped coming altogether.

Malls die for a variety of reasons. It could be bad or improper management, demographics, competition, it really just depends on the situation. But, mostly they fall because we as humans are easily drawn to novelties. New malls are opened, leaving the old ones with no traffic, crumbling in ruins. Abandoned, they are now perfect places for some grand finale of a zombie apocalypse movie.