More than 150,000 people swarmed the Mall of America when it opened 27 years ago. Here's what the US' biggest mall looked like back then.
Mall of America
- The Mall of America is the largest mall in the US, with 5.6 million square feet, a theme park, and over 500 stores.
- The massive complex opened 27 years ago, on August 11, 1992, in Bloomington, Minnesota.
- At least 150,000 people came to the mall on its opening day. Today, more than 42 million people from all over the world come to the mall annually.
- From groundbreaking to opening day, here are photos from the early days of the Mall of America.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
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The Mall of America is more than just a shopping center. It's practically a city.
Covering more than 5.6 million square feet and boasting a theme park and aquarium, this Minnesota complex is not your average shopping center. It cost over $650 million to build the mall that 40 million people visit annually. The mall currently has over 500 stores, and it generates nearly $2 billion in economic activity for Minnesota every year, according to press materials for the shopping center.
But when 78 acres of land were set to be developed by Bloomington Port Authority and Triple Five Group in the late 1980s, people had doubts about whether a mall of this scale would succeed. In 1989, a groundbreaking ceremony kicked off construction.
The Mall of America opened on August 11, 1992, with 330 stores and 10,000 employees. At least 150,000 people came to the mall on opening day, and the project was deemed a massive success.
Here's what the mall looked like at the beginning, from construction to opening day:
The Minnesota Twins and Vikings moved from the Metropolitan Stadium in 1982, leaving behind 78 acres of real estate possibility in Bloomington, Minnesota. The Mall of America was one of four final proposals for the land after it was bought by Bloomington Port Authority.
In 1986 Bloomington Port Authority signed an agreement with Triple Five Group to develop the 78 acres of land into the Mall of America.
Developers broke ground on June 14, 1989. There were still doubts about how successful the project would be.
The mall cost over $650 million to build. Construction lasted three years as people anxiously awaited the completion of the biggest mall in American history.
On August 11, 1992, the mall officially opened, with more than 300 stores and 10,000 workers.
When the mall opened, The New York Times called it "a 78-acre full-sensory smorgasbord of consumerism."
At least 150,000 people came to the mall on opening day. The crowds poured in and pressed up against the glass doors in anticipation of the grand reveal.
“I remember walking towards the entrance the morning we opened and seeing all these faces pressed up against the glass,” Maureen Bausch, the Mall of America's first publicist, said in a blog post. “That's when I knew for certain it was going to be super successful.”
As thousands of people poured into the brand-new complex and explored the different shops and attractions, it was clear that the Mall of America was a hit.
The mall was divided into four main sections that each had a different theme and design.
The mall even had its own theme song, written by Robin Batteau. The upbeat song was featured in a 1992 commercial and boasted the lyrics, "There's a place for fun in your life, the Mall of America. You've got to see it to believe it. Who told you you can't have it all?"
Over a million visitors reportedly came to the mall within a week of its opening. Even celebrities like Ray Charles and Larry Gatlin stopped by.
When the Mall of America opened, it featured Knott's Camp Snoopy, a theme park based on the characters from the classic Peanuts comic strip.
Peanuts' late creator Charles Schulz, who was from Minnesota, came to opening day to see his creation come to life in a theme park.
Opening week was crowded. "From the epicenter near Camp Snoopy, it felt like an ecstatic mall rave, the staccato ka-ching of thousands of cash registers serving as the high-frequency techno-beat for hundreds of thousands of Midwest shoppers," the New York Times reported at the time.
The Mall of America closed Camp Snoopy in 2006, the Star Tribune reported. On March 15, 2008, a brand-new theme park, Nickelodeon Universe, replaced it.
Though people were sad to say goodbye to Camp Snoopy, the introduction of the new theme park helped contribute to an increase in mall traffic in 2011, The Star Tribune reported.
Today, the Mall of America attracts 40 million visitors annually and generates close to $2 billion in economic activity for Minnesota each year.
Having grown to over 520 stores and 27 rides and attractions, the Mall of America is still the largest mall in the US.
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