North Star News

Niles North High School | Skokie, IL

North Star News

Niles North High School | Skokie, IL

North Star News

Let’s bring back Chicago’s dying malls

Pioneer Press
The nearby Lincolnwood Town Center in Lincolnwood, IL

“Get in loser, we’re going shopping” (Mean Girls). 

Bright stores, beckoning customers to entertain them. Innocent smiles on children’s faces, running through arrays of statues, tiny café tables, and kiosks with different toys and other playful trinkets. Music playing on the intercom, friends conversing, an environment as welcoming as it is unique. Suddenly, you realize that is a reality long-gone, something that many future generations may never get to experience. It is the story of Chicago malls, and unfortunately, it is not a happy one.

Chicago malls, a once-thriving symbol of commerce, are facing an uncertain future. Recently, along with their counterparts across the nation, these retail hubs have been grappling with a storm of changing consumer habits, economic shifts, and the relentless march of technological progress.

The rise of online shopping, manifesting itself in behemoths such as Amazon or Target, has dealt a severe blow to many traditional brick-and-mortar stores. With the convenience of a few clicks, and nowadays, a few taps on a cell phone, shoppers can have their purchases delivered to their doorstep, rendering the journey to the mall an increasingly outdated endeavor.

Meanwhile, in Chicago, there is another obstacle: the allure of urban living, which has become more and more popular to younger generations. It means moving away from the suburban lifestyle that once epitomized the mall experience, with Millennials and Gen-Z Chigoans often seeking out vibrant city neighborhoods where independent boutiques and eclectic dining options offer a more unique experience than the “old” and “boring” mall experience. Take Andersonville, Uptown, or any such modern quarters in the city; they are perfect examples of this.

This is a clear problem; for decades, shopping centers have been a key part of what makes our city so unique.

All of this has contributed to the many store closures and overall death of Chicago’s malls. This is a clear problem; for decades, shopping centers have been a key part of what makes our city so unique. They serve as starting points for different stores and fashion exhibits for popular chains economically. Socially, they are places for lovers to go out on dates, friends to hang out, grandparents to take their grandchildren shopping, etc. As the pandemic has ended and so many parts of life have gone back to normal, this is something that seems to be a forgotten part of our past lives, and we need to bring it back.

In the middle of all of this, however, some malls are embracing change, undergoing ambitious and exciting redevelopment projects to transform their space into vibrant unique communities. Others are doubling down on the experiential aspect of shopping, offering amenities like upscale dining options and entertainment venues to entice visitors. According to The Los Angeles Times there has been a minor resurgence of malls due to Gen Z’s influence to create new and more tempting and innovative attractions.

Overall, the mall experience is beyond just commerce and economics, it’s a dynamic space where you can explore and enjoy your communities, cultures, and intersections. Embracing the essence of malls allows individuals to immerse themselves in the pulse of modern society while indulging in moments of pleasure and discovery.


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About the Contributors
Tenzin Choenyi
Tenzin Choenyi, Asst. Opinion Editor
Tenzin is a sophomore at Niles North and this is his second year on North Star News. He is the assistant Opinion editor, during his free time he enjoys reading, writing, and binging shows.
Yoni Soloveychik
Yoni Soloveychik, Asst. People Editor
Yoni Soloveychik is a sophomore at Niles North. This is his second year writing for NSN and he likes a lot of different things.

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    David J.Mar 22, 2024 at 6:21 am

    Malls are currently undergoing a transformation. The offerings are becoming more diverse. In the past they were strictly retail. Now they are offering more entertainment type destinations. (Escape Room anyone?) They either have to evolve or will become ghost towns. I normally oppose change, but this is very interesting. Check out Gurnee Mills. Ice skating, escape room, massage chairs, two food courts, two Starbucks, etc.