Soon, next month, the evisceration of Northgate Mall, here in the northern clines of Seattle, will begin. The quintessential American institution, which in this case has been in operations since the 1950’s, and ironically, is part and parcel to that great American Vision that is lapsing into memory and myth, will be remade into the new American comercial vision of mixed used predation so endemic to the new American cityscape.
A mouthful, yes.
In its place will rise hotels, apartments, ice rinks-due in part to support the city’s new NHL franchise, and of course, businesses. But the mall will be no more. Whether this is good or bad depends on your point of view and point of reference. In a post from the Stranger, one of our locally venerated rags, the author is both disdainful of plans for the mall and for those with any fond memories, save those involving ghosts or well-known local serial killers. This is all fine and dandy for an amused young woman, but for those of us with ties that go deeper than fay irony, it is another sign that all things pass out of time.
Some of this is because many an afternoon during my parenting years were spent at Northgate. It was close and convenient and allowed the boys to run around and be bored. And while I’m not particularly sentimental, I do find the relentless pace of change to be a reminder of why longing for some mythical perfect past is a waste of time.
Whatever MAGA is supposed to mean or imagine, a return to the past is as pointless as hoping that somehow, someway, Northgate Mall will return to its past glory simply because it’s a part of my past and my memories and the presumption that those memories will always be better than any that will come afterword.
If anything, the demise of Northgate is emblematic of the constant churn of consumerism in this country and how ephemeral any particular period in time is. That it plays into a mythical past, the 1950’s-60’s, when all was good, despite war, bigotry, red-scares, and the big one (the Bomb), is akin to the people of that period’s longing for the calm and quiet of the late 19th century, who probably longed for the good times before the Civil War, is quintessential American nostalgia. And on and on.
For old time’s sake, I took a melancholy stroll through the mall as it was unlikely I would have a reason to return before they began its deconstruction. It was eerily quiet and devoid of shoppers. Many of the store were closed or in the process of being closed. As is so prevalent in modern business practices, the people who actually worked there were no more informed about their futures than I was. Only that soon it would be their turn.
Soon it will be just a memory.
And a place to catch a train into town.
©2019 David William Pearce