Southdale Center, commonly known as just Southdale, is a shopping mall in Edina, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis, which opened in 1956. It is the United States' oldest fully-enclosed, climate-controlled mall. As of 2008, much of the original Southdale structure is still in use, as well as later additions to the building. Three similarly named shopping centers were also opened in the Twin Cities area: Brookdale Center (opened 1962) in Brooklyn Center, Rosedale Center (opened 1969) in Roseville, and Ridgedale Center (opened 1974) in Minnetonka. What was then the largest US mall, Mall of America, opened in 1992 in Bloomington, just four miles (6 km) away.

Southdale Center is the nation’s and World's first enclosed shopping center. It was developed by the Dayton Company and designed by Victor Gruen, an Austrian immigrant. Gruen was a European style socialist; he hated the suburban lifestyle of 1950s America and wanted to design a building that would bring people together into a community, by providing a meeting place that American towns lacked. They would come together to shop, drink coffee, and socialize. He modeled Southdale on the arcades of European cities, although his original version was never achieved. Gruen also saw the mall as the center of a community. When he first drew up the plans for Southdale, he placed the shopping center at the heart of a 463 acre (1.9 km²) development, complete with apartment buildings, houses, schools, a medical center, a park, and a lake. Southdale, in Gruen's opinion, was not a suburban alternative to downtown Minneapolis. It was the Minneapolis downtown you would get if you started over and corrected all the mistakes that were made the first time around. Gruen planned for an atmosphere of leisure, excitement, and intimacy to be created. To achieve this he placed works of art, decorative lighting, fountains, tropical plants, and flowers throughout the mall. Groundbreaking for Southdale took place on October 29, 1954. 800 construction workers were needed to construct the two-story, 800,000 ft² (74,000 m²) center, complete with 5,200 parking spaces and 72 spaces for tenants and cost $20 million. The mall was developed by the Dayton Company, owners of Dayton's department store in Minneapolis and predecessor to the Target Corporation. A branch of Dayton's would anchor the mall along with Donaldson's, Walgreens Pharmacy and Woolworth. The mall officially opened on October 8, 1956, and had 40,000 visitors that first day. It was envisioned that Southdale would become the central gathering place not only for the residents of the city of Edina, but also for the greater Twin Cities area. Southdale was designed from the viewpoint of the future. The creators of the center understood that in the future, consumers would demand convenience and variety; as a result, the mall was designed to provide many useful services all under one roof. These services included everything from a Post Office, to a grocery store, to an upscale apparel store and even a small zoo. Other intentions would take hold, though, and the construction of the IDS Center and its attached Crystal Court would shift attention back to downtown Minneapolis. Over the years, Southdale has hosted gem, boat, and fine art shows, and also served as host for charity and community events. Southdale was the host-site for an episode of the popular game show Truth or Consequences .

Southdale today
Southdale Center boasts close to 1,300,000 square feet (121,000 m 2) of space throughout the original building and later additions. Dayton's original store was gutted in 1991 and turned into more mall space, as a new Dayton's was added. It would convert to Marshall Field's in 2001, and to Macy's in 2006. Donaldson's later housed a Carson Pirie Scott, then a Mervyns; this space, spanning 179,090 sq ft (16,638 m 2). on four levels, is now vacant after Mervyns closed in 2004 and was acquired by the mall for future redevelopment. In 2002, Southdale Center took on a new look with the completion of two projects: Trendz On Top, an area composed of stores aiming toward teenagers, and The District on France comprises retail, entertainment, and dining. Southdale’s anchor tenants include AMC Theatres, JCPenney, Macy's, and Marshalls. Southdale hosted a premiere of the Will Smith film " Seven Pounds" on December 12, 2008, which Smith himself came to after first speaking at a local school and visiting a children's hospital.


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