A Megamall Parking Ramp

Not just any mall – the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, one of the world’s largest. And not just any parking ramp – this thing stretches for blocks, on the East side of the MOA, and there’s another just as big on the West side. The total capacity is over 12,000 cars.

Photograph of Mall of America Parking Ramp
[click for larger image]

I live not too far away, and one night I was struck by the the weirdly dystopian sci-fi look of the ramp in the dark, its awesome size, and just the absolute craziness of it: it had to be photographed. It took a couple of return trips to scout out the best vantage point and capture it as a multi image panoramic.

The Mall of America is a colossal temple dedicated to two gods: Retail, and The Automobile. They’re symbiotic – it’s hard to imagine one existing without the other. An endless stream of pilgrims performs a ritual: drive here, park, and buy stuff. But approach this massive edifice on foot, and you’re an unwelcome outsider at the ramparts of a great fortress. See that tiny door to the right of the center of the photo – can I really go in there, is it ok? It looks scary.

At night, from across the street, it’s a Death Star in the blackness. There’s no traffic on a week night with COVID-19 everywhere. No one is walking around here. I stood alone in the darkness and wind and took a series of 7 shots to cover it from end to end.

I stitched the images using the excellent PTGui application, which offers many choices for the projection, and several degrees of freedom to adjust point of view and perspective. It’s all a matter of taste. I chose a projection that I thought conveyed the massive size and the feeling of standing at street level.

I don’t know if anyone else finds this photo interesting, but it says something to me – about the enormous resources we devote to consumer goods, and the vast urban spaces dedicated to the automobile. I had to do it.

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