At the time of its opening in 1976, Randall Park Mall was the “world’s largest shopping center” boasting 2 million square feet of retail space. Developer Edward De Bartolo built the mall on the site of the Randall Race Track in the village of North Randall, Ohio. At the time of its opening, North Randall’s population was 1,500 and the mall’s employee population was 5,000. After decades of decline the mall was officially closed in March 2009. Today it stands abandoned, a relic of the past.
In an interview with The Weather Channel, Lawless recalls:
“There’s nothing more profound and sobering than being inside an abandoned mall. It’s a powerful symbol of America’s economic decline. I used to visit these malls often growing up. I remember eating cotton candy underneath the escalator and the sounds of people laughing and feet shuffling as the gentle sounds of falling water from one of the many fountains surrounding me. This was America.”
Lawless is known for exploring abandoned spaces and documenting their imminent collapse. In 2012, he set out across the United States to photograph the “most broken parts of America.” He came back with approximately 3,000 images and 17 hours of video footage. Earlier this year Lawless released his book, Autopsy of America, a culmination of that work.