In April 1950 Northgate Center, the first urban shopping mall, was opened in Seattle.
Originally an open air complex where the stores faced each other, Northgate began adding a roof over the concourse in 1962 and was completely enclosed by 1974.
In August 2019 Seattle’s premiere retailer, Nordstrom, an original Mall tenant, chose to leave Northgate.
One reason for the Nordstrom closure is the National Hockey League Seattle plans to turn part of the area into its headquarters—but the move is widely interpreted as signaling the end of the suburban shopping mall era that began in Seattle in 1950.
Eventually, the American fascination with malls hit a feverish peak—in 1990, 19 new malls opened across America. But beginning in the late 1990s, the culture that once fed the American mall started to change. Shopping centers that hadn’t been renovated in years began to show signs of wear and tear, and the middle-aged, middle-class shoppers that once flooded their shops began to disappear, turning the once sterile suburban shopping centers into perceived havens for crime. Increasingly rundown and redundant, malls started turning into ghost towns—first losing shoppers and then losing stores. Today, the vacancy rate in America’s regional malls hovers around 7.9 percent; at its peak, in 2011, vacancy at regional malls was 9.4 percent.
Source: The Smithsonian