Across the world there are many countries which boast large shopping malls. They are designed so that the shopper can usually find what they want and at the same time eat and drink from a whole variety of eateries. In many of them you can even finish off the day by going to the cinema complex within the centre. But, this idea of multiple shops all enclosed under a roof to protect the shoppers from the weather, is not a new idea.
Admittedly, they were not called shopping malls or shopping centres in years past. Instead, they were referred to as shopping arcades. And there are a lot of them still in existence. At present, I am writing this in a restaurant in a modern shopping centre in London. It is the third largest in Britain and is the Westfield Centre located near where the London Olympics were held in Stratford, East London in 2012.
But London as well as many other places can also boast some original shopping arcades. Even today, if you walk through one, there is often an atmosphere of nostalgia. In many ways, they were works of art in themselves. Beautifully set out with small shops, large glass windows and some with a gallery overhead. One of the first is the Royal Opera Arcade at the rear of the New Zealand Consulate. It has art galleries as well as a small wine bar and seller of musical instruments.
An Arcade in Ohio, USA
Another famous arcade is in Piccadilly and is next to the Royal Academy of Art. It is called the Burlington Arcade and was constructed by the Duke of Devonshire who lived next door at the time. But, was this a deed of goodwill by the Duke? Actually, no. You see, before the arcade there was a lane going up the side of the garden wall of the Duke’s house. It apparently attracted all sorts and lots of rubbish was not only dumped in the lane, but much of it came over the wall. So, the Duke built the arcade to save his garden from rubbish!
There are examples of modern arcades in London. The Hay’s Galleria on the south bank of the Thames is a good example. It is spacious with shops, cafes and wine bars with one end of it on the side of the river.