How Minnesota shaped mall culture

three story mall with people walking
When the Mall of America opened in Bloomington on Aug. 11, 1992 it was not only one of the largest indoor shopping malls in the world - it set the stage for mixing retail with entertainment.
Courtesy of the Mall of America.

Minnesota is a big shaper of mall culture.

Southdale was the first indoor mall in the country when it opened in Edina in 1956. Over the next decades, malls spread across suburbia, pulling crowds of shoppers from downtowns.

Then, 30 years ago the Mall of America set the stage for malls as entertainment complexes when it opened on Aug. 11, 1992, with an amusement park surrounded by hundreds of stores. 

Now the COVID-19 pandemic and the rush to online shopping is changing malls yet again. 

A book cover that says meet me by the fountain
Alexandra Lange's book “Meet me by the Fountain: An Inside History of the Mall.”
Courtesy of Alexandra Lange.

MPR News host Angela Davis talks with a Mall of America vice president and a design critic about the evolution of mall culture.


  • Alexandra Lange is a design critic and author of the new book “Meet me by the Fountain: An Inside History of the Mall.” Her previous book was ”The Design of Childhood: How the Material World Shapes Independent Kids.” 

  • Jill Renslow is executive vice president of business development and marketing at the Mall of America. She started working at the mall as an events intern in 1997, when the Mall was marking its fifth anniversary. And, she never left. One of her big projects was overseeing the transformation of Camp Snoopy theme park into Nickelodeon Universe.

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