Darkened cities and vacant malls

Image by Thierry Cohen

I’m a big fan of The Atlantic Cities, which “explores the most innovative ideas and pressing issues facing today’s global cities and neighborhoods.”

Two recent articles in particular caught my eye. The first highlighted the work of photographer Thierry Cohen, whose “Darkened Cities” series rids cityscapes of their electric lights. You can an example above, and the whole series here.

Cohen crisscrossed the globe in pursuit of his project. His itinerary matched large metropolises like Hong Kong and New York, with more deserted spots, like the Mojave and the Amazon, according to their latitudinal alignment. He photographed the cities by day to capture the silhouette of their skylines, then darkened them in post-production. He then dropped in the more vibrant skies he found in places like the Western Sahara behind blacked-out skyscrapers. The result is strange, to say the least, but beautiful, especially in those images depicting coastline cities, where supernovas and star clusters are reflected in the harbors below.

The second piece concerned the decline of the American shopping mall:

A report from Co-Star observes that there are more than 200 malls with over 250,000 square feet that have vacancy rates of 35 percent or higher, a “clear marker for shopping center distress.” These malls are becoming ghost towns. They are not viable now and will only get less so as online continues to steal retail sales from brick-and-mortar stores. Continued bankruptcies among historic mall anchors will increase the pressure on these marginal malls, as will store closures from retailers working to optimize their business. Hundreds of malls will soon need to be repurposed or demolished. Strong malls will stay strong for a while, as retailers are willing to pay for traffic and customers from failed malls seek offline alternatives, but even they stand in the path of the shift of retail spending from offline to online.

Read that second article here.

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Darkened cities and vacant malls