Photos: Stillness and silence at the abandoned White Flint food court.
When it first opened in 1977, White Flint Mall was pure glamor. Donna Karan attended one of two celebratory black-tie events. Elizabeth Taylor – Cleopatra herself, then on her sixth or seventh husband, Senator John Warner of Virginia – attended the other.
Through the expansive glass roof, sunlight shone down on a central atrium featuring tropical vegetation, lush carpeting, and not one but two glass elevators that would have made Charlie Bucket blush. Mirror-lined escalators carried eager shoppers from floor to terrazzo floor. Smooth jazz played smoothly. Privileged denizens of Montgomery County promenaded leisurely from shop to shop to shop, down Italian lanes and cobblestoned streets, without a care in the world.
Throughout the latter half of the twentieth century, the Roman forum of this leisure palace was the food court. Its emperor, Orange Julius. Its cuisine, that of Naples-born Gennaro Sbarro.
And then Vesuvius happened. Vesuvius, in this case, being a general and growing American discontent with the enclosed shopping malls that captivated the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s in favor of the roofless “lifestyle center” of the 2000s and beyond. In 2011, the owners of White Flint Mall announced the structure would be closed down and demolished to make way for another lifestyle center.
So behold White Flint Mall’s dining establishments, after the volcano.
(UPDATE: See more photos here.)
(All photos by the author.)