The Malling of America by William Severini Kowinski (Morrow: $17.95)
Through most of history, the focal point of cities has been the market, a designated area where farmers, craftsmen, artisans, entrepreneurs, consumers and the curious could gather to barter, buy, trade and sell produce, goods and services, be entertained, socialize, politic and generally indulge themselves in the emerging civilization of the period.
And as the fortunes of markets have waxed and waned, so have the fortunes of the cities where they are located and their civilizations. Indeed, the markets in their various forms over the centuries--from carts in a field and stalls in a church plaza to shops along a main street and department stores downtown--could be considered the most revealing product of the various civilizations mankind has suffered.
As William Severini Kowinski notes, the most dominant form of the market in the United States today, and most likely throughout the industrial world tomorrow, is the ubiquitous mall, those well-packaged, easily accessible, climate controlled, nondenominational cathedrals of consumerism. He adds that over the last quarter of a century, malls have become the new centers of many of our communities, the places where people not only go to shop, but to be entertained, to see and be seen, perhaps eat, take a class, attend church, marry, have a child, get divorced and generally live out their lives.