Abandoned Mall :Once the World’s biggest mall is getting torn down

Seph Lawless is known globally as the most prolific photographer of abandoned places.In 2014, CNN wanted to document the closure of several shopping malls, so they reached out and hired Lawless for a freelance project to document these abandoned malls. The project was a success for CNN and the story went viral. You can read more of Lawless’ work for CNN here and here

Say good bye to the Randall Park Mall on the edge of Cleveland. The demolition crew started working Monday on what was billed as the biggest shopping center in the world back when it was built in 1976.

It is a potent symbol of the end of a different era. Once the centers of American retail and culture, many malls have slipped into decline, and even ruin. The trend is especially true for malls that once served the working class people in areas that have slipped into economic despair.
Not all malls are dying. In fact, many luxury malls are thriving, especially in rich urban centers of New York and Los Angeles.

Randall Park Mall (pictured here) has been a corpse for years after being abandoned in the midst of the Great Recession in 2009.

Seph Lawless, urban explorer and author of “Black Friday,” photographed the destruction as part of a project he calls “autopsy of America.”

Lawless says that used to visit the mall as a kid with his parents, back when it was bustling.

“I was here again last year and illegally entered the mall and spent eight hours inside during a fierce thunderstorm and photographed the abandoned mall,” he said. His haunting photos of the interior were used in his book “Black Friday.”

They look like the shopping mall scenes from ‘Dawn of the Dead,” sans zombies.

This is what the mall looked like on Tuesday, the second day of its ongoing demolition. Lawless said that people who used to hang out at the mall were there to witness its final days.

“All [were] staring with almost a concerned look on their faces,” he said. “I started approaching people and asked what they were feeling as they were watching because most just had a blank emotionless stare. They seemed sad.”

Lawless said the onlookers shared stories of working at the mall, taking their families there and flirting with girls. One lady cried as she talked about cutting school to attend the grand opening of the mall, and years later she took her kids there for ice cream.

“These people weren’t just here to say goodbye,” said Lawless. “They were here because they wanted to remember how it was. They wanted to relive those experiences, and they were.”

Lawless spent most of the day photographing the tear-down before he finally called it quits.

“On the way back to my car, I was stopped by a police detective that ironically arrested me for entering the malls months prior and he turned to me and said, ‘It’s time to say goodbye Seph Lawless.’ He was right, even though I wasn’t ready to.”