Musing: Abandoned Malls Are The Creepiest Places In The World

There is perhaps no physical structure creepier than an abandoned shopping mall.

What was once a symbol of togetherness, vibrancy, economic vitality, and joyousness – is slowly transformed into a empty, decaying wasteland. Yet because the physical structures and signage linger behind – the abandoned structures represent much more than emptiness, loneliness and decay. They also represent failure, miscalculation, impermanence and danger.

So basically, they’re just really creepy.

Image Courtesy of Johnny Joo -
Image Courtesy of Johnny Joo –

The website has put forth another series of images of an abandoned mall – this time a partially snow-covered abandoned structure in Arkon, Ohio.

It’s just really creepy.

Is there a city that stands for urban decay more than Akron, Ohio?

Memphians shouldn’t snicker though.

Memphis has malls – Hickory Ridge, Raleigh Springs, Oak Court among others – that are in varying states of decay. I haven’t been inside the Raleigh Springs Mall since my mother took my siblings and I there in the mid-1980’s to buy house pets and various other knick knacks, but every time I drive by I’m thoroughly creeped out and slightly intrigued.

Why does that still exist?

What’s in there?

Is everything the same as it was in the 1980’s?

Why am I crying? 

In researching this post – I came across a website for the Mall of Memphis. An active website. Which is amazing, because the Mall of Memphis closed on Christmas Eve, 2003 and was demolished in 2005. Apparently someone – a guy by the name of Doug Force – feels as intrigued (and maybe not quite as creeped out) by old malls as I do.  Force’s  Mall of Memphis tribute website is complete with an extensive timeline.

The Mall of Memphis website made me want to curl up in a ball and be held firmly.

Here are 4 consecutive entries on the Mall of Memphis timeline, which offer some insight as to why the mall no longer exists – and a basis for my future nightmares:

  • 2002 – A Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. unit takes control of the mall property through a foreclosure.
  • October 7, 2002 – A Mall of Memphis employee, who was taking a shortcut to work, found the body of a man on a small bridge over a ditch in the 4400 block of American Way early Sunday. The victim, who had not been identified by police late Sunday afternoon, was shot in the head, homicide Lt. Walter Norris said. The victim was believed to be in his early 20s. A neighbor told police he heard a gunshot about 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Norris said. Police had no motive for the shooting and were investigating.
  • October 8, 2002 – A 14-year-old boy was charged Monday in Juvenile Court in the shooting death of a 15-year-old boy whose body was found near a ditch south of the Mall of Memphis. Deandre Kendall was charged with first-degree murder in the death of William Hall. Kendall is scheduled for a detention hearing today in Juvenile Court.
  • November 7, 2002 – A 14-year-old gang member who allegedly boasted last month he was ready to get his first “187” or homicide will face murder charges as an adult in the shooting death of another teenager. Deandre Kendall was transferred from Juvenile Court to the County Jail Wednesday. He is charged with first-degree murder in the Oct. 5 shotgun slaying of William Hall, 15, whose body was found the next day near the Mall of Memphis. Kendall was ordered held on $100,000 bond.

Yep, pretty creepy.

Here are some pictures of the Mall of Memphis right as it closed, and as it was being demolished – courtesy of the aforementioned site:

mall of memphis


2 thoughts on “Musing: Abandoned Malls Are The Creepiest Places In The World”

  1. Old malls are creepy but old industrial plants might take the cake. I’ve seen some places that haven changed since the 1960s

  2. Yes, I have just recovered from the shock and awe of seeing the pictures of The Mall of Memphis.

    I for one have three memorable experiences from this oasis of my pre and early teen years.

    1) Sitting in the food court eating Chic-fil-a nuggets and waffle fries with my younger brother and grandmother, all the while staring down across the amazing ice rink to The Gold Mine dreaming of demolishing any poor soul that would dare play me in a game of Mortal Combat.

    2) Standing atop of the escalator with my cousin Jack, the cool one from Memphis, while waiting on my aunt Mary Jane to finish up her shopping trip to Victoria’s Secret. In the meantime all the kids that were lucky enough to be partying on the skating rink freak out, screaming and scurrying to the side of the rink near the escalator as if someone was giving away free checkered Vans and parachute pants.

    Jack and I take a look to see what is going on and to our amazement see four dudes riding up the escalator and coming literally right towards us. These were no regular guys just decked out in Raiders gear with gold chains as big around as a sub from the Steak Escape, this was Easy-E, Dr. Dre, MC Ren and Ice Cube. Yes I said it this was NW fucking A. Yes fresh, clean and mean and they are within arms reach. I immediately run to Camelot Music to buy the Straight outta Compton cassette, the real one not the one that was hidden under my mattress at home that a friend of mine copied for me on his dual cassette “ghetto blaster”, but an actual for real copy.
    (I’m pretty sure that one would need to be 18 to purchase this not 13 or 14 but I guess that I bought enough hair band 45’s there that I was “in” with the management)

    I immediately take said cassette to the Foot Locker where N.W.A, yes N.W.A is buying the newest and coolest Jordan, Adidas and possibly some Pony’s or Reebok pumps just for fun. I am scared shitless but walk past their massive 500 pound body guards and get each of their signatures. This may be the highpoint of my life, definitely to that point.

    Damn, I wish that I still had that.

    3) Then the dark days, the end of an era, part of the demise of my sacred oasis of youth. The day when my brother John and I were standing outside of the Gold Mine waiting on my grandmother and the two Women come sprinting past with huge bags overflowing with stolen shit followed by two undercover cops in hot pursuit.
    In my mind the cops both had feathered hair and mustaches and tweed jackets. Not sure if that is true.

    This was the end, the final days, that shit killed the mall, those fuckers.

    Oh yeah then there was the day that we came out and my grandmothers sweet pimped out Choo Choo custom van with a TV, VCR, wet bar and all of my grandfathers dry cleaning got jacked outside in the parking lot. That was it. Kind of like when the Karate Kid did his pelican kick straight to Johnny’s nose at the end of the match and put the end to Cobra Khan’s reign. I was Johnny and those fuckers kicked me and that was curtains for my love, The Mall of Memphis.

    RIP, shit I’m tearing up.

    Damn, I won’t even bring up the time that I was watching New Jack City and some dude literally pulled out his “9” and shot the freaking screen, don’t want to talk about it. Jesus, I’m sucking my thumb now.

Comments are closed.