Dixie Square Mall (Ghost Mall '09-12)
The Ghost Mall photo collection documents my adventures into Dixie Square Mall; it was originally part of a larger website of the same name.
DIXIE SQUARE SHOPPING CENTER
Once-located in the Chicago suburb of Harvey; Dixie Square is perhaps the most famous shopping mall that ever existed. It was the original "dead mall", having stood abandoned for more than three decades after only 12 years of operation, and was one of Chicago's most popular urban exploration destinations at the beginning of the new millennium.
Built from 1965-1966, Dixie Square was anchored by Penneys, Wards, and later expanded to include a discount department store called Turnstyle, topping out at over 800,000 sq.ft. of enclosed, 72* year-round shopping pleasure. Unfortunately, it was also built during an untimely demographics shift in Harvey which quickly sent the mall into a death spiral amidst a skyrocketing crime rate. After several murders in and around the center, along with various other incidents, tenants quickly fled to safer malls nearby, and ultimately Dixie Square was completely empty and boarded up by early 1979.
Later that year, Dixie Square re-opened for eight weeks... at least it looked like it. The mall was renovated and "dressed" back to life during filming of the 1980 cult-favorite "The Blues Brothers", in which the Bluesmobile and Illinois State Police cars wreaked havoc around and inside the center, causing major damage that was for the most-part never repaired. Following Hollywood's brief stint, the mall was used as a temporary school until 1981, then left to stand and rot away.
After further murders, fires, and one botched redevelopment after another; some demolition finally began (illegally) in late-2005 into 2006 but quickly halted, leaving huge portions of the mall wide-open to the elements. By this point, though, Dixie Square had quickly become a photographer's haven as hundreds came from all across the world to infiltrate and explore its massive ruins.
The rest of the mall was finally demolished in 2012, leaving only the former Penneys Auto Center, an outparcel on the northwest corner of the property standing. It was finally seen in 2015.
From 2009 through 2011, I consistently visited and documented the structure while digging further into its troubled history. The Ghost Mall collection contains many of the photographs from my ten infiltrations of the building, on top of historic artifacts and miscellaneous related images scanned or found over the years.
48 photos, 1 video