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One of the first large scale suburban shopping malls in America. It was completed in the early 60's, just outside of the city of Detroit in the then largely empty city of Southfield. The suburban location was due to the availability of land and the usual tax breaks and so forth.

As originally conceived, it had a combination of enclosed and outdoor shopping arcades (later to be entirely enclosed), and several large department stores. There were around 80 stores - small by today's standards but something new then. It is this notion of a few 'anchor' stores and many smaller stores that is the essence of a 'mall.' It was also inaccessible by public transportation and surrounded by giant parking lots. An effect of this, intended of course, was that it was largely inaccessible to blacks and the poor of the city, who at that time lived closer to the downtown area of Detroit, making it a more 'exclusive' shopping destination for the middle class. Leave it to the 'motor city' to inflict this spawn upon the world.

Ironically, what Northland set in motion would return to bite and kill it. Exponential suburbanization and flight from anything remotely urban made sure that within 25 years Northland was a relic of the past and firmly within 'the ghetto.' Today an endless landscape of larger and more modern malls in more distant suburbs of metro Detroit play the role of Northland in its heyday, with Northland playing the role of the decrepit downtown. A delicious part of the irony is that today, the few people shopping at the few stores remaining in Northland or hanging out in the parking lot are all black, and mostly poor.

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