15 Mysteriously Vacant Malls of America's Booming Retail Past

Step into the eerie silence of America's abandoned shopping centers frozen in time.
Updated May 8, 2024
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Online shopping is becoming more common for those looking for convenience and to save money shopping.

In fact, Forbes predicts that more than 20% of all retail purchases will be made online in 2024, and that number is only expected to increase.

With the rise of internet shopping has come the fall of what was once an American institution — the mall. We’ve rounded up 15 abandoned malls across the country — and some are downright eerie.

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Century III Mall (Pennsylvania)

tookitook/Adobe Deserted shopping mall with vines growing

Pennsylvania has several abandoned malls that have become unfortunate reminders of many dying brick-and-mortar businesses.

Century III Mall in Allegheny County has caused quite a bit of drama. Locals want the boarded-up and broken-down mall gone.

However, local officials have to go through safety protocols before touching it.

Chambersburg Mall (Pennsylvania)

Federico Rostagno/Adobe abandoned shopping mall with graffiti walls

After an antique shop closed its doors in 2023, Chambersburg Mall officially became completely abandoned. Today, it’s a far cry from its glory days in the 1980s.

Currently, the property owner is considering some sort of redevelopment process.

Circle Centre Mall (Indiana)

Adira/Adobe Abandoned mall void of people

Circle Centre Mall in Indianapolis is not quite dead yet, but vacant enough.

A major developer has agreed to acquire the property with promises to get rid of the many rows of empty stores in the massive space and give it a good revamping.

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Forest Fair Village (Ohio)

done4today/Adobe The Deserted Cincinnati Mall ohio

A spooky reminder of a thriving past, Forest Fair Village, also known as Cincinnati Mall, is allegedly on the chopping block.

Local officials want the “eyesore” former mall to come down, but there’s a lot of back and forth with a buyer about when it will actually happen.

Gwinnett Place Mall (Georgia)

Milana/Adobe empty modern mall with escalator

Gwinnett Place is another long-abandoned mall that is allegedly getting a makeover soon into some sort of mixed-use development.

This once thriving local spot, which has been mostly empty for years, is so spooky it even made an appearance in Netflix’s “Stranger Things.”

Hawthorne Plaza Mall (California)

Zerbor/Adobe abandoned vintage mall

Just 22 years after its grand opening in the late 1970s, the final store at Hawthorne Plaza Mall in LA County shuttered.

For decades it has stood as a ghost mall and a sort of relic of its storied past. There have been talks of renovations but no solid commitments.

Harborplace (Maryland)

Leo/Adobe abandoned mall corridor with closed shops

Harborplace in Baltimore is more of a mall of life support than a dead one.

The waterfront property is now under new ownership, and it’s working on big plans to get retailers into the vacant spaces (only 29% of the space was being used previously).

What had become eerie and even a bit depressing may just be getting a second shot at life.

Jamestown Mall (Missouri)

Hero Design/Adobe Abandoned shopping mall with lockers

The once-thriving Jamestown Mall officially closed back in 2014 — and was a prime example of a dead mall before demolition began in 2023.

There’s talk of turning the area into an open-air shopping center, but for now, it’s just a relic of what once was.

Lakeforest Mall (Maryland)

wetzkaz/Adobe large shopping center deserted during day

The future of the 100-acre property the now-vacant Lakeforest Mall sits on is uncertain. What was once one of the more popular malls in the Gaithersburg area is now completely vacant.

Though there are talks of redevelopment, officials and residents can’t seem to agree on what the space should be used for.

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Military Circle Mall (Virginia)

Ruslan Gilmanshin/Adobe Abandoned shopping mall building

Some big plans were allegedly in progress for the site of Military Circle Mall in Virginia, including some involving famed musician Pharrell Williams (a Virginia Beach native).

However, as of now, it’s just a vacant mall that shuttered after more than 50 years and is awaiting demolition.

Northridge Mall (Wisconsin)

JustTheLetterK/Adobe Abandoned Mall escalators

Northridge Mall in Milwaukee has been closed for more than 20 years — and has, unfortunately, been the site of much crime and, according to Fox 6 Milwaukee, even a death.

The City of Milwaukee plans to tear it down, but for now, the ghost mall remains.

St. Louis Mills Mall (Missouri)

Leo/Adobe abandoned mall corridor with demolished shops

Plans for the former St. Louis Mills Mall in Hazelwood were up in the air for a few years.

Initially, it was reported that the abandoned mall would be transformed into a massive youth sports complex, but now it appears the site will become an industrial park like many former malls.

Rainbow Centre Factory Outlet (New York)

vvalentine/Adobe abandoned shopping mall after apocalypse

The site of Rainbow Centre Factory Outlet in Niagara Falls is not quite dead — though it was close.

The mall originally opened in the early ‘80s but shuttered in 2000. A decade later, the Niagara County Culinary Institute took over part of the mall space, and plans are reportedly underway to revamp the rest.

Randall Park Mall (Ohio)

jechm/Adobe pink and blue themed abandoned mall

Randall Park Mall was once the “largest shopping center” in the world, with over two million square feet of space and hundreds of stores. By 2009, it had lost its glory (and all its stores) and closed down.

Most of the mall was demolished and, like so many once-magnificent malls, converted into industrial space.

Stratford Square Mall (Illinois)

Alfazet Chronicles/Adobe abandoned customer service counter in mall

Many struggling malls are located in the suburbs around Chicago, including the Stratford Square Mall in Bloomingdale, which will close for good in April 2024.

A product of the 1980s mall craze, the mall now sits eerily vacant as plans for how to use the space are debated.

Bottom line

clsdesign/Adobe Southpark Mall shopping center parking Charlotte

If exploring a vacant (or mostly vacant) mall is one way you want to step up your travel game, you may want to act fast.

Retail giants like Amazon have been buying up a lot of these properties to turn into warehouses across the country.

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Author Details

Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore is a seasoned freelance writer who also teaches writing courses at Rutgers University. She's based in Jersey City and enjoys travel, live music and, of course, spending quality time with her pup.

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