These 7 malls are some of the oldest in America, surviving the retail apocalypse and decades of change

These malls are still kicking.

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These malls are still kicking.
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Erik Drost/Flickr

It’s no secret that malls around the US have been struggling.

Between the rise of e-commerce, changing consumer preferences, and the 2008 financial crisis, it’s been a tricky few decades in the retail space. The resulting retail apocalypse has left plenty of once-thriving shopping centers desolate, with CNBC reporting a regional mall vacancy rate of 9% in January.

Read more: These 18 retailers have filed for bankruptcy or liquidation in 2019

But that isn’t to say that all malls are doomed. Plenty of shopping centers have pivoted to renting out space to coworking startups. And there are still plenty of malls that have continued to dodge extinction despite recent challenges.

Here are a few of the oldest malls that continue to survive as shopping centers:


Since its 1890 construction, the Cleveland Arcade has remained a striking Victorian landmark. Today, the arcade is owned by the Hyatt Regency and is home to plenty of boutique shops and restaurants.

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The Cleveland Arcade.
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Erik Drost/Flickr

Source: MNN.com, The Arcade


The Market Square in Lake Forest, Illinois, claims to be the “first planned shopping center” in the United States, having opened up in 1916. Over one century later, this mall now features national retailers like J.Crew, Talbots, and Lululemon.

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Market Square in Lake Forest, Illinois.
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Slo-mo/Wikimedia Commons

Source: Market Square, MNN.com


The Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri, dates back to 1922. The mall has survived the ravages of the retail apocalypse and continues to host retailers like West Elm, Kate Spade, and Tiffany & Co.

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The Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri.
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Design for Health/Flickr

Source: MNN.com, Country Club Plaza


Bellevue Square was one of many malls to open in the years following WWII. In 1946, the shopping center launched in Bellevue, Washington, featuring early tenants like Marshall Field, JCPenney, and Nordstrom. Today, the mall still features department stores like Macy’s and Nordstrom.

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Bellevue Shopping Square in Bellevue, Washington.
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chispita_666/Flickr

Source: MNN.com, The Bellevue Collection


The Ridgeway Center in Stamford, Connecticut, was yet another mall to spring up in the wake of WWII, opening in 1947. Today, the space houses a Marshalls, an Old Navy, and a Bed Bath & Beyond.

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Stamford, Connecticut.
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JJBers/Flickr

Source: New England Historical Society


The Southdale Center in Edina, Minnesota, first opened its doors in 1956. According to the Guardian, the location became the first “fully enclosed, climate-controlled” mall in the United States. Today, the shopping center features a Macy’s, an AMC theater, a Buffalo Wild Wings, and an Apple store.

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The Southdale Center in Edina, Minnesota.
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Bobak Ha’Eri/Wikimedia Commons

Source: MNN.com, The Guardian


According to the New England Historical Society, the Pine Tree Shopping Center opened up in 1959, becoming the first modern mall in Portland, Maine. Today, the shopping center is anchored by Lowe’s and also features an Applebee’s and a Big Lots.

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Portland, Maine.
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Paul VanDerWerf/Flickr

Source: New England Historical Society, New England Development

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