According to the news, shopping malls are not so popular these days in America, and in fact, many are closing.
For someone like me who grew up in the 1970s and early '80s, this is hard to believe.
The modern shopping mall became common in the USA in the middle to late 1960s. Before that, shoppers went to shops and department stores located in the downtown area of a large town or city.
In earlier days, the shops were located along one or two main streets, somewhat like a Japanese "Shoutengai", although the American version had to have more parking spaces for cars.
The large shopping mall, one building containing many stores and restaurants caused excitement when it first appeared. Shoppers could park their cars in the large parking lot and have access to perhaps dozens or even hundreds of shops inside.
If they were hungry, they could eat at the food court area of the mall which contained a lot of (usually fast food) restaurants grouped around a cetral seating area. (G.K)
hang out たまり場にする、しょっちゅう集まる
1970s and early '80s 1970年代と80年代初め
hard to believe 信じられない
become common 一般的になる
in earlier days それ以前は
somewhat like 〜 ちょうど〜のような
group around 〜 〜に集まる