April 12, 2023

EP. 314 — Where Did All The Malls Go? with Alexandra Lange

In the late 1990s, American malls were the place to be. Families from around the world vacationed at the Mall of America. Teens flocked to Britney Spears’ Hair Zone Mall Tour. A nine-year-old Jonathan basked in the fine fragrance mists of Juniper Breeze. Today, there are only around 700 indoor malls in the US, and more are in the midst of shuttering. What happened to these institutions? This week, Alexandra Lange joins Jonathan to discuss the rise, fall, and potential resurrection of the American mall.


Alexandra Lange is a design critic and author of “Meet Me by the Fountain: An Inside History of the Mall.” Her essays, reviews and features have been published in the New York Times, The New Yorker and New York Magazine, as well as in design publications including Bloomberg Citylab, Elle Decor and Curbed. She lives in Brooklyn and walks in Brooklyn Bridge Park almost every day.


You can follow her on Instagram @langealexandra and on Twitter @LangeAlexandra. And you can purchase a copy of Meet Me by the Fountain here!


Bloomsbury Publishing is on Instagram @bloomsburypublishing and on Twitter @BloomsburyPub.


Follow us on Instagram and Twitter @CuriousWithJVN to join the conversation.


Jonathan is on Instagram and Twitter @JVN and @Jonathan.Vanness on Facebook.


Transcripts for each episode are available at JonathanVanNess.com.


Find books from past Getting Curious guests at bookshop.org/shop/curiouswithjvn; we’ll be updating it soon with more releases!


Our executive producer is Erica Getto. Our editor is Andrew Carson. Production support from Julie Carrillo, Chris McClure, and Erin McKeon.


Our theme music is “Freak” by QUIÑ; for more, head to TheQuinCat.com.


Headshot credit for Alexandra: Mark Wickens


Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness & Alexandra Lange   JVN [00:00:00] Welcome to Getting Curious. It’s Jonathan Van Ness. I am so excited for our episode today and I know that I always say that, but I’m, like, I just I guess my excitement for Getting Curious is always on twelve! But a few months ago we were scrolling through Twitter, honey, and we saw a question posed by our past guest Kim Kelly, and she asked, “What’s the best writing you’ve read about American mall culture?” And it hit me like my love for Bridget Jones’s Diary. We realized that we were curious about American mall culture, too. And thankfully, the Twitter comments led us to this week’s guest: Alexandra Lange is a design and architecture critic. Her newest book, Meet Me by The Fountain, explores the social and cultural significance of American malls. It’s a story about the smell of Mrs. Fields cookies, teenage quote “mall rats,” and candy-colored rows of gap sw

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