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Online shopping places

Good day to you all. Today we will look at what America's first shopping center was, the "Southdale." After escaping from the Nazis in Austria, built and designed by a Jewish refugee found his way to America. Within the few years he was here, he changed the skyline of both New York City and the nearby city of Minneapolis.

The 1,100 suburban malls inspired by Southdale might be the epitome of car-bound consumerism - but this first fully enclosed, climate-controlled shopping center was dreamt up by a socialist, pro-pedestrian Jewish refugee.

Behold the shopping mall, the built personification in line with its critics, of the monotonous, car-bound consumerism of outlying America.

Southdale Center was the first fully enclosed climatized assortment of shops from which most other shopping centers we see today would be modeled off and spread throughout the mainland of America. Approximately 1,100 of them originated from the mind of "Victor Gruen," a refugee from the then-occupied country of Austria.

Yes, from the day of his arrival back in 1938, New York City would never look the same again. Lurching into a project which would change the streets of New York within two years of his arrival, he changed the once-famous storefronts of "Ciros" on fifth avenue and "Steckler's" on Broadway, before going onto the design and build America's and perhaps the world's first shopping center. A shopping center would stand a good ten miles from the center of New York City called "Southdale." It was a work of passion, you could say, as it was to create his beloved Vienna, which was then being torn apart from the ruthless Nazis following their invasion of Austria.

Gruen was a pro-pedestrian European Jewish socialist who hated even the sight of cars, let alone riding in one of them. However, when the chance came for him to design the "Southdale," he took the bull between the horns and literally dived into his new job with the relish of the young Venetian he was.

Gruen had what looked like a blank canvas to work from as no one up until then had any idea of what an actual shopping center looked like. So build it he did, just like an indoor shopping center which he mimicked the enchanting city center of his beloved home city in Vienna.

Although the center went up as planned, our young builder turned architect looked onto his creation with a troubled mind. He could not understand quite what he had invented, but deep down, he knew that his building was somewhat of an eyesore, although tall and awe-inspiring, although those around him thought the complete opposite. However, he had created a monstrosity for him, one which would haunt him until, in the 1970s. Gruen returned to his beloved Austria to live out the rest of his life in relative isolation. However, he did have the beautiful Atrium of Vienna's indoor market square he had tried so hard to create in America to sit in and watch the birds as they flew in via the suntraps on the roof.

Gruen himself, when asked what he thought of his creation, blinked and said, "Even if I were on the street starving, I would never set foot into what he described as his monstrous bubble." However, close to 800,000 people turned out when they opened up the mall to everyone and loved what they called "Gruen's" little Vienna.

It is said by many today that "Victor Gruen" never realized that the people living in the area did not have any countryside to go to. Hence, the "Southdale" was, in fact, the closest thing they had to match the countryside, so they often came into the center to take a walk, usually not even bothering to purchase anything. They went just for the ambiance, an ambiance that the little man from Vienna had created purely, it would seem by chance.

While back in Austria, Gruen began work on a novel he titled "The Heart of our Cities." A book he wrote to describe what he called the Urban Crisis going on in North American cities. However, the book was read by someone who invented a little mouse back before the 2nd World War. A mouse which would in time become famous. That mouse, of course, was Mickey Mouse and the person who read the book was, of course, Walt Disney himself, and he liked the design of Gruen's inner-city planning ambitions so much that he named the EPCOT center after his original ideas.

Well, that's the end of this look at Online Shopping Places. I will try and search out some other shopping centers which also have an exciting story behind them. Some of you are aware that some years ago, I worked in the retail and property field. One of the shopping centers I had under my belt had the old City of Gloucester directly under its walls, and under they even had the place where all the wagons had to drive through before entering the city to wash all the mud and clay off. Yes, the old city Gloucester has a lot of history behind it, so if you should ever be in the area, pop over and take a look at it, you will be in for a treat.

 

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