Abandoned Malls

Abandoned Mall, China

What is it about abandonment that’s so compelling? From Chernobyl and Pripyat to mental hospitals to lost theme parks from Korea to California, we can’t help but stare at darkly vacant buildings.

Now add malls to the list. And put South China Mall, in Dongguan at the top of it. Unlike most every other expanse of empty hallways we can name, this one’ been empty since it opened in 2005. And, even more amusing, it’s actually still operating. Sort of.

The place was designed to house about 1500 shops, but only a few dozen storefronts are leased. Dismembered mannequins and an operating amusement park add to the Twilight Zone effect. Shoppers are rare. Some people show up for the amusements, but rarely venture inside “because there’s a weird smell.”

What sets the South China Mall apart from the rest, besides its mind-numbing size, is that it never went into decline. The tenants didn’t jump ship; they never even came on board. The mall entered the world pre-ruined, as if its developers had deliberately created an attraction for people with a taste for abandonment and decay. It is a spectacular real-estate failure.

Looking for more? There are lots of dead malls in the US.