When it opened back in the 1970s, the Randall Park Mall in Ohio was then the largest mall in the world, employing more than 5,000 employees and attracting thousands of eager shoppers to its doors. Today, it is a dilapidated, abandoned structure set to be demolished later this year.
Ohio-based Seph Lawless has documented the spooky remains of Randall Park Mall and Rolling Acres (another abandoned Ohio mall) in a book called ‘Black Friday – The Collapse of the American Shopping Mall’.
Through images of broken store windows and other torn down mall interiors, the series provides some powerful commentary on the brokenness of America’s economy. ‘The goal was to show the world a different side of America. A vulnerable side. I think an abandoned mall is symbolic of the economic decline of America and is a true indication of what happens when cities like Cleveland suffers massive population loss due to loss of manufacturing jobs’, Lawless told Mail Online. ‘Cleveland has lost nearly half its population since these malls opened in the mid 1970’.
These abandoned malls hit close to home, as Lawless once roamed their halls as a kid and got his first job in one of the stores. ‘I chose to focus on malls for this book because I think a mall is a human connector. We all can relate to a mall in a very personal way. We all remember spending time there and for the most part it was in happier times’, Lawless said. ‘I remember visiting Santa Claus as a kid at these malls during Christmas and eventually getting my first job at the mall. The mall had character and the architecture was beautiful’.
UPDATE: Check out this excerpt from our exclusive interview with Seph Lawless!
Please take us through your thoughts and emotions when you first entered the malls. Did you feel sad? Afraid? Or privileged to enter closed off grounds?
I was filled with a tremendous amount of sadness. Often times emotionally breaking down into tears.
Did you have to ask permission to get into the malls or were they abandoned enough to just simply walk in?
I never get permission. I would never be granted permission. I take the risk of imprisonment and trespass illegally.
Click here for the full interview.
Via Huh Magazine