The main road in my neighborhood runs for about a mile, then leads out towards an interstate highway. Near the end of this road lies the Burlington Center Mall, which has been closed for almost a decade. The various shops and the huge plot of land they reside on was meant to be a space catering to the needs and wants of the residents of my neighborhood, but when the space stopped being profitable for its owners, they simply packed up and left. Waste of this kind likely would never have occurred in Amsterdam: the massive parking lots, road network, and varied green space for trees and shrubs are a fixture of American properties. Once the land, or whatever was built on top of it, outlives its usefulness, the cheapest option is to find another profitable venture and leave behind the bones of the last one. So here the empty mall stays, a symbol of degeneration and non-renewal, a reminder to my neighborhood that the grass is greener somewhere else.
Betsky, who lauds Amsterdam’s meticulous, orderly, efficient use of space, would be appalled by the waste shown by this dead mall. Nescio, conversely, might have seen an upside. Nescio shows how their lack of space actually affects the lives of the Dutch, in that he and his friends constantly sought out their own spaces. Whether it was an attic, a rooftop, or an open field, Nescio and his friends found peace in spaces not managed or limited by someone else. Perhaps, if Nescio lived in my neighborhood, he might have taken full advantage of the new space provided by the empty mall, and in doing so breathed into it new purpose.