Chadstone shopping centre
Image credit: Dieter de Vroomen/Unsplash

The Southdale Shopping Centre of Edina, Minnesota, was the first to open its doors, and its car park, to the lady consumer. This experiment in retail was designed by Victor Gruen, a Jewish and socialist intellectual forced to flee his native Austria in 1938.

Gruen had sought to recreate the Viennese civic experience, notably democratic in the period before annexation, for US suburbanites. US business developers had sought to give the growing population of motoring housewife consumers a place to spend their money. Southdale, which is not yet a dead shopping mall, was the first shopping mall. It opened in 1956.