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The Shopping Center

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Essay title: The Shopping Center

The Shopping Center

In the prologue to the book, Shopping Town USA, the authors, Victor Gruen and Larry Smith, state as a fact that shopping centers, market places, town squares, however they are called, are, and most probably will always be, the center of social activity and a necessity to the psychological functioning of human minds. From the beginning of time, there was always a need to trade things with others and sell what is yours for something better or newer. In the medieval times the market square was also a place for such things as town meetings, religious activity and transacting businesses while they did their shopping. Because of this, such activities seem to be showing that market places aren’t just for buying but for social interaction as well.

When the city sprang up and the Industrialism boom began, the people of the city ran into suburbs built for the purpose of getting away from noise and clutter. Just on the outskirts of the city people flocked into suburban housing, cutting them off from the social square, the market place, the social ring. Instead people were forced to go their own ways and there was no longer a set location for people to meet. Cities destroyed the “centers” and instead replaced them with cold, smoking, steel factories.

Public transportation, such as with subways and train stations, temporarily did provide a common meeting place for citizens of the isolated suburbs to gather as they made their way to work and to day to day errands in the city. Boarding and exiting trains provided a semi-town-square for these passengers so that they might see familiar faces and places by forcing them to pass by each other on their way to board the next train. But when the time came for personal automobiles to be the most popular and widely used way of transportation, people were again allowed the individual roaming freedom and opportunities around the forced “town-square.”

Consequently stores and businesses that were located in the busy sections before major factories and such began to lack normal business and profit because of the slow traffic in their service areas. People began having to move their companies elsewhere to such places as along highways. These highways were ultimately the straight passage from suburban isolation to the busy city. Setting buildings in these areas was almost the only sure-fire way to attract customers because these travel spots were almost the only major congregating places.

Almost all at once, traffic began to stream into the highways. Parking became a problem to these small businesses most probably around the same time and screamed for relocation. The cars began to pile up and interstates and freeways provided alternate routes for road traffic- roads that lead away, once again, from business. The need for a set spot for social gathering and business was growing and places to meet were scarce.

Gruen and Smith tell about the scramble companies had to endure in the unsteady flow of customers and thus business. Once businesses came together, providing an escape in one satisfying “community” called shopping centers, businesses could really flourish again. These shopping centers provided an option to stray away from the rest of the world and into a place of gathering for merely shopping, for watching the entertainment, simply resting in the rest areas, eating in food courts, and seeing familiar face and places again. These shopping centers once more provided a common place to meet.

I believe the authors’ point; shopping centers have a great effect in society. They give us a place to meet when there is nowhere else to go. They provide entertainment for everyone when boredom kicks in or there is nothing better to do. Shopping centers can also be a means to meet new people, pass by

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