The shopping mall was once an iconic part of the American experience. It was the place where families took shopping trips on the weekends, teenagers hung out with their friends, and Black Friday was an annual event.
Nebraska’s Crossroads Mall is a good example of the decline of the American shopping mall. It opened in 1960 in Omaha, anchored by big named department stores like Sears, Dillard’s, Brandeis and Younkers.
The 21st century was a different story, however. Forty years after it opened, Crossroads was a hollowed-out shell of its former self. The mall emptied rapidly in the 2000s and half of it now sits vacant.
This video footage of the mall was captured by a drone fly-through. It perfectly conveys the sense of emptiness and disuse that pervades almost every square foot of the shopping center.
Several of the storefronts are black holes rather than bright, inviting windows full of clothing, mannequins, and toys. The vacant bays look more like prison cells, with bars protecting an inky blackness instead of products. The white columns, walls and tiles only make the holes more conspicuous, places where stores once welcomed Omaha’s shopping public but now remain shuttered.
There are a few empty benches and kid’s games, but the only signs of real life seem to be brightly lit Target, Barnes & Noble and Sears stores, and a few others on the first floor.
The second floor is a ghost town, and the food court doesn’t seem to have many options available at all.
Sitting at the intersection of 72nd and Dodge Streets in Central Omaha, Crossroads was renovated in the 1980s and late 1990s. Simon Property Group, a large real estate company known for its many mall properties, bought Crossroads in the 1980s. Century Development bought the mall in 2010 and still owns it.
Source: Avant Architects/Omaha World-Herald
But that plan has been in the works for a while. Demolition of much of the existing mall was originally planned to begin early in 2016, with delivery scheduled for the 2017 holiday season.
For now, the decrepit old Omaha landmark remains.
Eventually, though, it’s expected to give way to a new retail, residential and commercial called Crossroads Village, and many locals want to see more small businesses and restaurants instead of the chains that prop up Crossroads.
The Target, at least, will stick around.
Time will tell how that plan turns out. But for now, shoppers and curious visitors have a spooky old mall to wander around as they await the next big thing.
Meanwhile, curious readers who might be far from Omaha would do well to check out that haunting drone footage.
Does it remind you of your own hometown mall – quiet and empty, a relic of another era in American life?