Summer 1990: Shopping Malls, USA Chris March 16, 2011 1990-1999, People 93 CommentsFavourited 1521 times Add to favourites 93 Responses Bangner March 16, 2011 Wow, are we also going to look this weird in another 20 years? Great foresight by the photographer here (however inadvertent). Scariest part is I know towns where everyone still looks like this! Reply keith February 21, 2012 where? Reply Eric June 22, 2012 East Liverpool, OH. Is where. drew September 19, 2012 Hah! I can vouch for that! elmsyrup March 16, 2011 I like the lack of self-consciousness people seem to have in these pictures. I also notice the almost total lack of obese people. Wonder what changed in only 20 years? Reply Mary April 3, 2014 Mostly? Smoking.. people are now fat because A) they dont smoke anymore, and B) there was a lot of drug use back then.. mostly cocaine. Reply anna March 16, 2011 Wow, I love this photos. I love the way people seem to be having an absolutely normal day of their lives. It makes me want to take photos in the nearest mall to show them in 2031. Thanks for posting this. Reply jeff March 16, 2011 hey elms, computers came along…that’s what changed. everyone’s sitting on there butts now instead of walking around the malls. Reply The Sexy Armpit March 17, 2011 this is amazing. I only wish I had photos from my local mall! Love this post. classic. Reply smiggen jones March 17, 2011 why are some people in shorts, and others in coats? Reply JR May 4, 2012 Guess it didn’t occur to you the pictures might have been taken at, um… Different Times of the Year? Reply Neil March 18, 2011 I think this mall is from Long Island, NY.. is this Smith haven mall or Massapequa mall? Just wondering given the king’s park jackets and common tiling throughout the pictures. Reply Noel March 18, 2011 Hi. Woooooooow, i like the 90′s. Is amazing how change the life style… Reply kct1975 March 18, 2011 WOW! Those pictures really take me back! I honestly had forgoten just how bad the clothing and hair style were back then. Ouch. Though, I too am gulilty, I was about 14 and the time and, while I do not remember to well (thankfully), I sure I was dressed just as bad. Reply lostinnny March 19, 2011 Any idea of where in the USA these photos were taken? Reply MichaelGalinsky March 19, 2011 @lostinnny these were taken in about 20 malls across the us a lot of them were taken in the smith haven mall on long island- that’s where i started the project- then i drove across the country with a friend and shot all over- the jump off in terms of influence was frank, eggelston and winogrand. Reply MichaelGalinsky March 19, 2011 @lostinnny these were taken in about 20 malls across the us a lot of them were taken in the smith haven mall on long island- that’s where i started the project- then i drove across the country with a friend and shot all over- the jump off in terms of influence was frank, eggelston and winogrand. Reply JennyEpelMuller March 19, 2011 This is awesome and horrifying, just as I remember it. I spent the summer of ’90, when I was 17, working in a mall (the Galleria in White Plains, NY). The photos inspired me to create this music playlist, which one friend of mine said made her feel “sort of gross inside,” which is exactly the effect it was intended to have. http://listen.grooveshark.com/#/playlist/Mallrat+Despair+Mix+C+1990/50568744?src=5 Reply Disco April 7, 2011 Despair maybe. I dunno. 1990 was a simpler time in my life. In fact, thru August of that year was one of the best times in my life. I was only 12. Then seventh grade started and everything went to shit. I was not really into the pop music of that year, but these songs aren’t bad. At least they’re pleasant and not whiny. Reply JennyEpelMuller March 19, 2011 This is awesome and horrifying, just as I remember it. I spent the summer of ’90, when I was 17, working in a mall (the Galleria in White Plains, NY). The photos inspired me to create this music playlist, which one friend of mine said made her feel “sort of gross inside,” which is exactly the effect it was intended to have. http://listen.grooveshark.com/#/playlist/Mallrat+Despair+Mix+C+1990/50568744?src=5 Reply dianesaysword March 19, 2011 It’s crazy because I was scrolling through these pictures thinking “Man, if this doesn’t look like Smith Haven Mall…” but figured “Nah, malls are malls, especially in the early 1990′s.” lol…but then as soon as I saw that kid in the Kings Park High School jacket, well, that sealed the deal. I moved out to the general area around the Smith Haven Mall about four and a half years ago, and let me tell you, four and a half years ago, that place did not look much different that it does in your pictures, LOL. It has since gotten a pretty large facelift so now it looks…well, it looks nicer, lol, and it still gets an insane crowd like your pictures show, by virtue of being the only thing around for about what, 40 miles? (yes! still!) That picture showing the brick work and the “open ’till 9:30″ sign? That should be the entrance to the Macy’s at Smith Haven, and I know this because the outside entrances still have that same sign all over them, LOL. And yes that brick work is still there. That aside, they must’ve outlawed smoking in malls like a year after these pictures were taken, because I do not remember that at all, and my parents smoked (granted I was 6 in 1990, but still lol). Oh and also, remember that time that Sears sold American products? :’( Thanks for posting these. They’re crazy, lol. Reply dianesaysword March 19, 2011 It’s crazy because I was scrolling through these pictures thinking “Man, if this doesn’t look like Smith Haven Mall…” but figured “Nah, malls are malls, especially in the early 1990′s.” lol…but then as soon as I saw that kid in the Kings Park High School jacket, well, that sealed the deal. I moved out to the general area around the Smith Haven Mall about four and a half years ago, and let me tell you, four and a half years ago, that place did not look much different that it does in your pictures, LOL. It has since gotten a pretty large facelift so now it looks…well, it looks nicer, lol, and it still gets an insane crowd like your pictures show, by virtue of being the only thing around for about what, 40 miles? (yes! still!) That picture showing the brick work and the “open ’till 9:30″ sign? That should be the entrance to the Macy’s at Smith Haven, and I know this because the outside entrances still have that same sign all over them, LOL. And yes that brick work is still there. That aside, they must’ve outlawed smoking in malls like a year after these pictures were taken, because I do not remember that at all, and my parents smoked (granted I was 6 in 1990, but still lol). Oh and also, remember that time that Sears sold American products? :’( Thanks for posting these. They’re crazy, lol. Reply dianesaysword March 19, 2011 @JennyEpelMuller Wow that is a painful playlist, LOL. But man, I remember going to the Galleria back then, it was a nice mall at that time (also for the time, lol)…glad to see you made it out of there ok Reply dianesaysword March 19, 2011 @JennyEpelMuller Wow that is a painful playlist, LOL. But man, I remember going to the Galleria back then, it was a nice mall at that time (also for the time, lol)…glad to see you made it out of there ok Reply Michael March 19, 2011 Yes, I knew that was the Smith Haven Mall in some of those pics. Reply bronny March 20, 2011 I absolutely love these photos, thanks so much for sharing them! Reply willie March 20, 2011 My favorite is the store sign that says: TAPE WORLD Reply eightiesnostalgiast March 20, 2011 This was so bad it was great. The style, or lack thereof, is awesome! I don’t think there is an era in which America looked any trashier. Shout out to the Frizzy Perm Era (ca. 1987 – ca. 1995). The only people who look remotely sophisticated are the woman in the 7th photo from the bottom, and some of the people in the “Phil’s Photo Imagry” pics. Oh, and that mannequin, too. Amazing how these Northerners bear an uncanny resemblence to Billy Ray Cyrus ca. “Achy Breaky Heart”, style-wise. Reply George Gallo March 20, 2011 2 or 3 of these images are NOT from Smith Haven. INCREDIBLE WORK though. I have video of Smith Haven back then. Hold onto Your hats. Reply Kraig Karson March 20, 2011 Elms, you nailed it! the lack of self awareness. We need to get back to that. I lived at malls in 1990. Every mall in Chicagoland. Thx for the pics retronaut! Reply Tyler March 20, 2011 Wow. Especially fascinating for me as I was born in the summer of 1990. A world I existed in yet never knew… Reply dean March 20, 2011 I like the stored named “Tape world” in one of the pictures. Try finding any store today that primarily sells music on cassette tapes! Also the smoking inside the malls is pretty funny. There is still a sort of late 80′s/madonna/flashdance vibe left over in 1990 – strange…. Reply Camille March 20, 2011 What happened to the great long hair the men and woman used to have, and their sizes have tripled? What happened to the people that used to excercize. We need more Jack LaLanes! Did you know that eating sugar increases your appetite, and your desire for sugar? Reply Brad March 20, 2011 It’s amazing to see how small everyone was back then! Reply frank March 20, 2011 1990….wow…..remember this is within one year of Cheers ending, Seinfeld & The Simpsons beginning! Reply Greg March 20, 2011 I guess black people didn’t go to malls back then. Reply seabear70 March 20, 2011 REguarding the lack of obese people, I also noted the number of people smoking in public… Corelation is not causation, but is it possible the two are somehow linked? Reply Mary April 3, 2014 Yup everyone smoked and was thin. Amazing how that works. All of my friends who quit blew up like Balloons. Everyone who still smokes is thin and a whole lot healthier. Reply michael March 22, 2011 Thanks for all the support for this project- I wrote up a short piece to give context to the work http://www.rumur.com/news/mall-stories/ in addition a few months ago i made a video for my old band (for a song from this time period) called punk rock city usa – using images from this series. http://vimeo.com/17861090 Reply James March 27, 2011 a lot of those pictures are from Smith Haven Mall Reply Don March 29, 2011 Who said this is USA. Reply DensityDuck March 29, 2011 The Eighties exploded, and these are pictures of the shrapnel. Reply Wendy March 31, 2011 Is that Julian Casablancas in pic no. 4?? Reply Rob March 31, 2011 I, too, am laughing about Tape World. I remember they came around in the late 80s and starting taking business away from Record Bar. But by the mid-90s, they started losing out to CD Alley, which eventually died about ten years later when mp3s became big. Ah the cycle of life. Yeah the scenes of smokers was shocking in a way. Some malls in the south still allowed smokers all the way into the late 90s even. Reply Jason March 31, 2011 Oh wow, is that the Smithaven Mall in Lake Grove?? I practically grew up in that mall! Reply michael April 3, 2011 http://kck.st/gcUEDH michael galinsky here- the photographer- i have started a kickstarter campaign in order to raise funds to print a book of the images thanks Reply Axe April 3, 2011 Crazy. Those kids in the Kings Park jackets are my friends!! That was the year we graduated high school. Reply michael April 7, 2011 Hey Axe- if you do know those people in the pictures can you contact me via the facebook.com/rumur site- I would love to be in touch with some of the people in the images for a media story. thanks Reply Jeff April 8, 2011 A few things: 1) I think the better term would be “self-consciousness“, not “self-awareness.” Self-awareness is good–self-consciousness, not quite so much. 2) I don’t want to look “sophisticated” if it means baggy grey shorts and a wife-beater–I know, I know, “it’s all in how you wear it”. Feh! I want to look GOOD! These people may be making mistakes, but the mistakes are all fixable (anyone “horrified” by this needs to take a look around at today), and at least they’re trying to take pleasure in their appearance. We might as well all be wearing office wear for the attitude we take toward our so-called casual wear these days, even as sloppy as it is. We get to “relax”, but we don’t get to enjoy our clothes any more. Who really wants a world like that? And yet we continue to put up with it. Why?? Reply Michele Askew April 8, 2011 I saw lots of fat people, mostly women. Reply simmer April 8, 2011 definitely smith haven mall. i recognized it instantly by the brickwork as well. and black people definitely did goto malls back then, the southshore mall in bayshore. and sunrise mall. smith haven, not so much. Reply Riverledge April 10, 2011 The photo of the popcorn koisk in front of the Zales (mall #67) offers different demographics (they tend to be the only obese within)as well as floor tiling is so totally different from the Smith Haven. Probably shot somewhere else. Mall #68 also has white flooring. Not enough to identify. Reply sthlmandsouth April 12, 2011 these are awesome Reply ben April 12, 2011 I feel like I’m right out of frame in every shot. Thanks for bringing me back tot the terror. Reply waza April 14, 2011 what a great collection of shots – there should be a photo-anthology for every year. the cellphone killed the mallrat, and now we actually miss em. malls seem so empty these days, like in this video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvJw1t8wHhM Reply Spicoli April 15, 2011 @waza – I was a mall rat throughout the 80s (think Fast Times At Ridgemont High). The big thing for my klan was visiting the arcade and playing video games. But even in the early to mid 90s my generation still enjoyed going to malls, but only for shopping, not socializing. Soon after the internet and email took off and then online shopping. By the late 90s/early 00s just about all of my non-staple, non-clothing purchases were done on line through etailers and brick stores that shipped to the home (specifically electronics and small/large appliances). That was about the same time computer games and console games started blowing away those in arcades. Malls – and those who frequent them – are a dying breed. I’d wager that before another 20 years passes, they’ll all be extinct. All we’ll have by then are strip malls anchored by a few major retail chains still around like Target (Sears & JCPenney probably won’t be one of them). Reply Jersey April 15, 2011 These pics bring me way back.Thanks Mike Galinsky.Just curious if any of these were taken in New Jersey as one of the pics looks just like my wife but she denies she ever owned those high top sneakers. Reply Phil April 20, 2011 WHAT? NO CELL PHONES? HOW IS IT POSSIBLE? Reply Mike April 26, 2011 Picture 4 looks like Johnny Ramone!!! Reply ricky lee April 27, 2011 This definitely takes me back! You can almost feel the vibe of a slightly simpler time. Two things I took away most is that 1990 was still a time you could smoke almost anywhere in public without the politically correct shame division decending upon American society. And secondly, as elmsyrup pinted out, there’s almost a complete lack of obese people. Sure, there have always been obese people but as we venture into malls today it’s hard to escape that a large number of people are obese. The only other irony worth mentioning is that mall clothing stores still cater to the thin and pretty crowd. That has never changed. More people use wal-mart and big and tall stores instead of traditional retail to cover an increasing number of obese people. Reply Phil Woodford April 28, 2011 There is a surprisingly 80s feel to some of the fashion and hairstyles. I would have placed it perhaps at 1987 or 1988. Nice record. Reply Adrian May 7, 2011 Ahhh….. the times when you could smoke in the mall. Reply fiasco May 9, 2011 hipshots! Reply Champagne May 16, 2011 I was 14 in 1990 in Boston and boy does this bring back memories of the malls in the smaller towns I sometimes lived in as a kid in the late 80s, early 90s. I love this project! Reply Jim May 19, 2011 I like this. I wish we could still dress like this and not be considered strange. I remember as a kid in the 80s/early 90s, clothes used to be fun. And not just a kid-clothes vs adult-clothes thing, but there’s been a real change. Everything has to be so subdued now. No more bright colours, flashy designs, etc. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t like EVERYTHING here (especially most of the hair – most, not all). But I would be a happy camper if today’s style would go by the wayside and something more akin to this would return. Reply Russell123 May 26, 2011 In some parts of Canada there are malls where people still look like this. Reply ali waqaz June 1, 2011 looking so beautiful by heart Reply Dan June 5, 2011 These captures are fantastic!! Slice of life gems, they are. I was 9 years old when these were taken and can remember scenes like this like it was yesterday. Makes me want to watch the original Dawn of the Dead. KUDOS!! Reply Nick R July 1, 2011 A lot of these look like they’re in the Smithhaven mall on Long Island. Reply silvestar July 25, 2011 …even though not from the USA but Australia and now living in Croatia these pics hit the spot….the malls looked the same even in Australia!in 1990…..even though the style is not the 90′s….more like a spill over from the 80′s as one person has already mentioned…the first shot with Patrick swayze is great…the fashion was awful….but we were all guilty :] Reply silvestar July 25, 2011 ….oh I forgot to mention stonewash denim was king but actually on the way out by 1990…. Reply Ruthanne Urquhart August 27, 2011 The great equalizer across the US is not liberty or justice for all; it is the mullet. Gah! Reply ivan October 28, 2011 I really enjoyed looking through your photographs – an unpretentious snapshot of a big hair era. just wtf were men doing wearing mid-riffs! cheers Reply Dan November 14, 2011 Yes I for sure noticed the tobacco use in these photos..there is no way in the world that would take place now! I was 30 in 1990 and I dont remember that being real prevelant in any of the malls I went to..Yes it was funny seeing not one cellphone being held up to a persons ear! This is so common now we just take it for granted! Reply Dougie December 12, 2011 Wow America used to be so cool. I mean they look ridiculous now but they had style! Reply Eric December 19, 2011 Wow this is truly amazing. I was browsing these images, and i couldn’t stop thinking… “Why do i feel like i’ve been here before?”. I soon realized i HAVE been there before. Many times lol. I grew up in selden/centereach (town over from lake grove where the smithaven mall is located) and i was at smithaven for the first time in a long time last week and its looks ALOT different!! Reply Sebastian February 10, 2012 Add me to the chorus of voices chiming in that they grew up at “that mall”. Having been to the Mall yesterday (granted, not the Smith Haven!) I can testify that the sense of community has been lost. Say what you will about the off-the-charts lack of tact, you can tell that these people are interacting. Kind of like the 80′s version of a Town Square. Nowadays, the social aspect of Mall shopping has been lost. Between the big box stores and people staring at their phones every minute, you don’t get the feeling anymore. This is a real snapshot in time! Reply The Grebe March 4, 2012 Having graduated from high school in 1990, I can tell you that the ’80s didn’t end until 1991. The shift in pop culture, music, and fashion that occurred right about the time Nirvana’s “Nevermind” was released was as dramatic as it was sudden. Quite literally overnight, the big hair, stone-washed denim, and tight jeans you see in these photos, and the Poison and Cinderella that was no doubt playing on the mall’s sound system when they were taken, was no longer cool. Photos of this mall taken only two or three years later would look very different. Reply Mike March 19, 2012 What I find amazing about these pictures, is how they could be from anywhere in the US. I am from Atlanta, and this could be from any one of a dozen malls in the metro Atlanta area. I read several posts that they are from the NY area, so it’s uncanny how culture really has assimilated across our country. Thanks for the cool memories! Reply Mickey April 27, 2012 Cletus went to the mall looking for a wife! Reply justinmk May 10, 2012 That Batman pic had to be summer 89… Reply cool ! May 19, 2012 Terrible hair ! Great look ! Back in days ! Reply MISSY May 25, 2012 What a great trip down memory lane.I graduated in the 1980′s and I loved the clothes,yep..I loved tight straight leg jeans and the big t-shirts..The big hair-sprayed hair and big hoop earrings etc..I love the things because they represent my youth when I had it together and was hot. Reply MISSY May 25, 2012 To the guy who posted this- I’m not sure if you know of this website called deadmalls.com.It’s about once thriving malls that have closed.My facination w/it is unhealthy.The empty mall walkways,empty stores,vacant food courts..The material in this website are mostly all closed mall that you can see the 1980s decorating footprint.It makes me look back.I would think that most of the folks that go to this website and have melencoly feelings about what they see are probably in their early to mid-40′s Reply isabella May 30, 2012 thank you for these pictures, i was only a kid back then (90s) but seeing these photos gives me so many bittersweet feelings. wish i could go back! Reply Kaye June 3, 2012 Bitch flips AKA Mall Hair everywhere! I was 14 in 1990 and I remember jean jackets, Batman, New Kids on the Block, Skid Row, Janet Jackson, Z Cavaricci’s, The Limited, Guess jeans, Keds, Air Jordans, Skidz. I lived in Florida and everyone wore their hair like this, but for some reason I got an overwhelming Jersey/NY feel to these pics. It took 1/4 can of Aqua Net to get your hair to stand up like that. Reply Pradeep Kumar June 5, 2012 I really enjoyed looking through your photographs – an unpretentious snapshot of a big hair era.In some parts of Australia there are malls where people still look like this. Reply Astrid July 27, 2012 Really??! Where? Reply Astrid July 27, 2012 Oh 1990…I was 12. How I wished my hair was bigger, my mum would let me get a perm and how I worried about whether I’d rolled my jeans correctly, and were my socks slouchy enough?? heh thanks god those times are over, but good memories. Reply Mary September 15, 2012 On picture 13, is that a simulator ride behind her?? I was just trying to explain those to my 5 year old son the other day. I loved the 90′s!! Always something to do, never just sat around! Reply Aristocrat September 26, 2012 Shopping Mall circa 1990, or Wal Mart today? Reply Reddyfreddy October 8, 2012 This is amazing. and chuckle worthy Dont try to guess what mall it is. It seems to represent any ole small to medium sized suburban mall in America or even Canada in fact. Because it dosn’t actually show too many stores, it could be from anywhere…they were all so horribly the same like the suburbs they were in. I’m in Canada here acorss the lake form upstate New york…thinking that look like on of our malls Reply Maureen May 18, 2014 I honestly think I found my (much younger) self in one of these pics. A little strange to say the least. I have no memory of the pic or the mall I was in. Reply Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published. Name* Email* Website Comment Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.