Mall of America
If ever there was a place that epitomized the American maxim that bigger is better, this is it. The largest shopping and entertainment complex in the US, it encompasses-under a single roof-more than 520 stores, an indoor theme park, 22 restaurants, 27 fast-food joints, 14 movie screens, an 18-hole mini-golf course, 8 nightclubs, an aquarium and a wedding chapel. Drawing as many as 900,000 visitors a week, the mall is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Minneapolis. Completed in 1992 at a cost of $675 million, the 4.2-million-square-foot mall is shaped like a giant three-story rectangle, with four department stores (Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom and Sears) anchoring the corners. Besides a red-neon Mall of America sign on its exterior, the structure is hardly visible from the outside, due to the web of highways and the 13,000 parking spots (all within 300ft of an entrance) that surround it. Inside, massive corridors with the height and girth of airplane hangars are lined with every store imaginable. Although the atmosphere is especially chaotic during the Christmas season, at any time of year the mall affords a fascinating glimpse into the heart of American capitalism.