Teaching Students About the Biggest Mall in America: A New Perspective on Commerce and Culture


The Mall of America, located in Bloomington, Minnesota, is the largest mall in the United States. Spanning over 5.6 million square feet, this colossal commercial space has become a significant part of American culture since its opening in 1992. With more than 500 stores, numerous entertainment options and eateries, it’s critical to teach students about the impact of such a large-scale retail and leisure destination on society. This article will discuss how to approach teaching students about the Mall of America, its economic contributions, and its influence on local and national cultures.

A Brief History

Begin by providing your students with a brief history of the Mall of America. Explain that the mall was constructed on what was once the Metropolitan Stadium—the home field for Minnesota’s sports teams between 1956 and 1981. Upon its completion in 1992, the Mall of America instantly gained national attention as an architectural marvel and an embodiment of consumer culture.

Economic Contribution

Next, delve into the economic impact of the Mall of America. Highlight that it contributes approximately $2 billion per year to the state’s economy and employs around 11,000 people. Moreover, since Minnesota has no sales tax on clothing items, visitors from other states often flock to shop at the mall, boosting local businesses. Have your students analyze these figures to develop an understanding of how it contributes significantly not only to commerce but also job creation.

Environmental Responsibilities

Discuss the mall’s environmental efforts and responsibilities with your students. The Mall of America prides itself on being environmentally friendly; it doesn’t use central heating systems yet stays warm through human body heat generated by its visitors. Illuminate that over 30,000 LED lights are installed instead of traditional incandescent bulbs to conserve energy across numerous areas like parking lots or store displays.

Cultural Impact

Explore the cultural impact of the Mall of America, which goes beyond retail. The mall features various attractions, including Nickelodeon Universe, an indoor amusement park; SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium; mini golf courses; and even a wedding chapel! Allow your students to reflect on how these entertainment options have turned the mall into a cultural hub for visitors and locals alike.

The Dark Side

Finally, address the potential negative aspects of the Mall of America. This includes the issue of overconsumption and materialism, as well as its vast ecological footprint. Encourage your students to consider these drawbacks in a balanced discussion of the mall’s overall societal implications.


Teaching students about the biggest mall in America is an opportunity to open their eyes to its economic and cultural influence, environmental responsibilities, and potential downsides. By giving them a comprehensive understanding of retail and leisure destinations like the Mall of America, educators can empower students to critically analyze similar consumer spaces’ impact on society.

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