A shopping mall is a building or group of buildings that contains stores. The stores are connected by walkways so that consumers can easily walk between the stores. Malls can be built in an enclosed or open-air format.
The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is an early shopping mall dating from the 15th century. In 1819, London opened a shopping center called the Burlington Arcade. Milan, Italy built a shopping center in the 1860s called the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.
In the United States, people began moving to the suburbs during the 20th century. Shopping malls were built to serve consumers living in areas outside of the cities. By 1916, one called The Market Square, which was made up of 28 stores, apartments, and offices, opened for business in Chicago, IL. The facility was located in the expensive Lake Forest suburb and is thought to be one of the first planned shopping centers in the U.S.
In 1950, the Northgate Shopping Center was built in Seattle, Washington. This mall boasted two rows of stores on each side of an open-air section where shoppers could walk. Two department stores anchored each end of the shopping center. The first enclosed mall was Southdale Center in Edina, Minnesota, which opened its doors in 1956.
Up until the mid 1990s, most modern-day developers built enclosed shopping malls in order to create a climate-controlled shopping environment, but more developers are returning to the creation of open-air malls. Outlet malls, shopping centers featuring name brand retailers selling their products at discounted prices, are often built in an open-air format.
Malls can be located everywhere throughout the world and are travel destinations for tourists who love to shop. A typical one houses department stores, boutiques, movie theaters, photography studios, and other specialty stores. Some, like the Minnesota Mall of America, even house amusement parks within their walls.
Other features of a shopping mall include kiosks, food courts, and arcades. Kiosks are booths located in pedestrian areas of the mall where small products or services are sold. Food courts are areas within the mall that contain fast-food restaurants and a seating area. Arcades are popular destinations for some teens because they are entertainment rooms where people can play coin-operated arcade games.
People like to visit malls because of the convenience of having so many stores and services in one location. Many people like the ample parking and the fact that there are plenty of stores and activities from which to choose. Whether a family needs to purchase eyeglasses, buy shoes, or have a family portrait taken, they can usually find what they need at one of the local malls.