Photos reveal abandoned Rolling Acres Mall bathed in snow

Feb 10, 2015 at 12:30 p.m. ET

The Rolling Acres Mall has been left to the elements, but when a snowstorm breaks its way inside, it's transformed into something beautiful.

Abandonment photography and urban exploration are definitely eerie, but it's completely fascinating to consider why a building that was once so important to so many falls to the wayside. Most often the answer is finances — a business fails, and there is no interest in purchasing and reviving the building again, which is the unfortunate fate of many indoor malls, the fortresses of the 1980s.

An Ohio-area photographer, Johnny Joo, specializes in urban exploration and abandonment photography, and has an amazing ability to seek out those structures people have left behind. He has done a pictorial study of the Rolling Acres Mall, located in Akron, before, but after a recent blizzard, he wanted to check out the inside once again, as the glass ceiling had given way and blanketed the interior with snow.

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He found a breathtaking yet highly unusual winter wonderland. The mall that in decades past hosted thousands of happy shoppers now only sits in silence, reflecting the only things it has to offer — memories. The blizzard had dumped a ton of precipitation into the center of the mall through the broken glass of the ceiling, cloaking escalators and dead mall plants in a fresh layer of snow that they were never designed to experience.

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The demise of the Rolling Acres Mall follows the same storyline as many shuttered malls across the U.S. Built in 1975, the mall enjoyed brisk business throughout its first decade or two, which included expansions and renovations. However, starting in the mid-'90s, the mall began losing stores, with closures becoming more common as the building slowly emptied out. The mall closed for good in 2008, and the final two anchor stores had left the building by 2013.

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Most of the immense structure has since been left abandoned, with no maintenance, no upkeep, no anything being done to keep the outside out and the inside in decent shape.

The result is certainly depressing as the forgotten building slowly deteriorates and decays, but for a moment, it's beautiful again with a winter storm that transforms the interior into a haunting, snowy gem hidden inside a distressed memory.

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