There’s something beautiful about dead malls. Truly dead malls, or partially dead ones. Mostly empty husks of wide-open spaces, lit with skylights and decorated with empty planters and long-dry fountains. Storefronts, shuttered and shadowy, with the barest hints of what they once were. (Slatted walls were once Waldenbooks. Sprawling carpets with once-neon-pink-swoosh designs in abandoned FYEs. Signs and abandoned merchandise hinting at less recognizable names.)
The partially dead malls, I think, are more beautiful, though. While the dead malls are locked and forgotten—caved in and rotting from the inside out—the partially dead malls are dying specimens. A Macy’s with clothing racks huddled into a corner. A Bath & Body Works sandwiched between the dusty shutters of a former Aeropostale and the faded signage of a small-name clothing boutique. Food courts empty save for the one faux-Chinese place that’s always the last to go. The carpets are spongy and reek of both mildew and that signature odor all malls have. And in the hazy afternoon sun filtering through dingy skylights, you see the elderly ambling on down dingy corridors, passing by the benches where their children spent their teenage years. You can almost hear the dying breaths of three bygone decades in their footsteps, in the distant sound of music by artists you haven’t heard in twenty years, in the hum of the building itself.