Best Of 2019

Best Vaporwave Photo Op: Forest Fair Mall aka Cincinnati Mills aka Cincinnati Mall

Malls: These havens of hearty Midwestern consumerism have been on a slow death spiral as innovations like e-commerce and Amazon work to take over the retail world. Humans are losing their lust for large-scale interior expanses of clothing storefronts, food courts and play areas with quarter-machine rockets. This change in consumer habits is possibly no more real — and ominous — than at the skeletal remains of the Forest Fair Mall aka Cincinnati Mills aka Cincinnati Mall. While it has gone by several names, the basically abandoned 2 million-square-foot, almost 30-year-old structure is like an episode of Ghost Hunters meets Life After People meets The Walking Dead (minus the zombies). Today, you can walk the darkened mall and marvel at the eerie shuttered shops, neon debris and empty Orange Julius stands with a gnawing nostalgia and the palpable unease that comes from entering desolate spaces that should be filled with people. Though it feels like you shouldn’t be there, you can be: Cincinnati Mills is still open for mall walkers, curious wanderers and people who like to freak themselves out by traipsing through a dark, vacant building. Opened in the late 1980s as the second largest mall in the state, Forest Fair Mall was renovated in the 1990s and became home to anchor stores like Kohl’s, Bass Pro Shop and Burlington Coat Factory (and eventually an 18+ nightclub called Metropolis... anyone remember that? R.I.P.). In the 2000s, it was renamed Cincinnati Mills and sold a couple more times. As of 2019, it has only a handful of tenants, including the flagship location of the thriving local Arcade Legacy chain. And while you may get chased out by a mall cop, it is a perfect place to take some achingly Vaporwave and supremely strange photos. With a purple and teal color scheme and cruise ship-meets-Dada Surrealism mobiles and light fixtures, it is of a very specific, very lost space and time in Midwestern American culture. Cincinnati Mall, 662 Cincinnati Mills Drive, Springdale.