Think of the funnest place where you hung out as a teenager, when you were first allowed to go out with your friends on your own and pick up the latest chart-topping single. Now imagine it looking as sad and empty as this.
Meg Stefanac from Pittsburgh, a former high school newspaper and yearbook photographer from the class of ’87, recently revisited her former teenage stomping ground, the Century III Mall in West Mifflin, PA.
On what is supposed to be the busiest shopping weekend of the year, Meg and her husband decided to take a stop into the mall “for old times’ sake. You know, just to take a look around and relive some happy memories.” But it wasn’t exactly the blast from the past she had in mind….
“Built in 1979, it was THE place to be for those living in the South Hills of Pittsburgh in the 80’s,” Meg remembers, “We pitied those who had to live their lives without such a mall nearby. It was always crowded and bustling, and it was frequently difficult to quickly work your way across as you navigated through a sea of neon clothing and big hair held firmly in place with Aqua Net.”
“The food court was always insanely busy. You were lucky if you could find a table that you and your friends could all cram around. That is no longer a problem — also, there are now only four food vendors still open. By the way, these pictures were taken at around 1:00 in the afternoon.”
“To my surprise, the spot in the mall where I fed countless quarters into Miss Pac-Man and Donkey Kong machines is still an arcade…”
“I did not go out of my way to avoid catching people in my photos. This is really what the mall looked like. And yes, it is open! These scenes would have been unimaginable in my teenage years.”
“If you used to shop at Century III in the 80’s, you know how difficult it was to get a decent parking space — especially in the weeks before Christmas.”
Did anyone else feel completely bombarded over the last few days on the internet with endless click bait for Black Friday online shopping deals “Cyber Monday” (and now Tuesday) bargains? You’re damn right that has something to do with the depressing state of this mall, the 4th largest in the Pittsburgh area. Dying shopping malls are speckled across the United States and Europe too, often in middle-class suburbs wrestling with socioeconomic shifts.
Will we miss these unnecessarily spacious concrete marketplaces when they’re gone? Yes, they’re hopelessly ugly and the elevator music echoing eerily from the can speakers is probably what you’ll hear while waiting for judgement between heaven and hell– but if you’re an 80s kid, there’s something undeniably sad about saying goodbye to these places.
I just went through a box of my old CDs and added them to my bookshelf. I don’t have a CD player anymore, but for some reason, it made me feel a little better. Hey, I have an idea, who wants to go to the mall this weekend?