Wednesday, December 24, 2008

When I was first writing about Greengate in the late 70s and early 80s, I often heard similar sentiments expressed about downtown Greensburg in the 50s and before: memories of shopping in the department stores and shops on Main Street, going from store to store in the falling snow, seeing friends and ducking into the Chat and Chew. But Greengate and other malls drew the department stores away from Main Street, and Christmas along with it.

As the malling of America took hold, their size, their concentration on consumption and their sudden omnipresence alarmed many, and their formulaic resemblances to each other brought the malls a lot of scorn. But lost in broad-brush critiques, as justified as they might be on many grounds, was the social and cultural roles many malls played, often defining their own communities.

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