When we brought up the question of city planning, Mr. Gruen grumbled that “planning” has become a dirty word in this country. “Almost as bad as if Lenin had invented it,” he said. “The fact is no city was ever planned enough. Planned and replanned. Here in New York, we’re like a big family that’s all dressed up with no place to go. Wherever we turn, it’s jostle and bustle and frayed nerves and bad tempers. In Detroit, six or seven thousand people make their way to Northland on Sunday afternoons. The stores are closed, so what are they doing there? Looking for open space. They window-shop and stroll through the gardens and sit on benches and soak up the sun and enjoy the fountains and sculpture. What Northland teaches us is this—that it’s the merchants who will save our urban civilization. ‘Planning’ isn’t a dirty word to them; good planning means good business. Besides, any improvements they make are tax-deductible. Sometimes self-interest has remarkable spiritual consequences. As art patrons, merchants can be to our time what the Church and the nobility were to the Middle Ages.”
Victor Gruen’s 95-acre two-level Southdale Center Mall opened Oct. 8, 1956 in Edina, MN, near Minneapolis.
The first fully enclosed shopping center, with a constant climate-controlled temperature of 72 degrees, was inspired by the design of the Galleria Vittoria Emanuele designed and built by architect Giuseppe Mengoni 1865-77 in Milan, Italy.