A very interesting article in the New Yorker about shopping malls, how they came into being, and how the design of malls was perfected. The most interesting part is how they came to replace downtown department stores–in some cases because the department stores influenced zoning and prevented new stores from moving downtown to compete. The new stores became anchor stores for malls instead, and pulled consumer traffic from downtown areas.
It also examines the affect that malls have on suburban areas — pulling so much traffic and auxiliary consumerism that the parking lots look like a wasteland and the areas become souless and chaotic. so much so that one of the original inventors of the mall lamented his creation and moved back to Europe.