Shopping malls have always been a hangout for bored teenagers or families looking for something to do on a rainy day. They’ve probably also been around a lot longer than you might think. Long before Americans made malls their own, residents of ancient Rome met in the marketplace to buy goods and catch up on the latest gossip. In Victorian times, arcades with covered walkways became the precursors to today’s malls.
With the rise of the suburbs and automobile culture in the mid-20th century, what’s generally accepted as the first enclosed mall in the country opened near Minneapolis in 1956. Others quickly followed as the idea of having a central place to shop became increasingly appealing to a growing middle class.
In Asia, the Middle East and Europe, modern malls also rapidly grew in popularity. Although they’re sometimes called a shopping plaza or shopping center in other parts of the world, they’re the same thing: A collection of independent retail stores, restaurants, and entertainment venues. Travel through the decades with our photos of malls through the years to see what things were like when the shopping trend began.