Nowadays, shopping malls are seldom considered masterpieces. But that was completely different at the turn of the 19th century—a time when the department store was a pinnacle of high style and technology.

The following images will show you the dawn of consumer society, when malls were more like palaces and temples than mere stores.

The Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, a shopping arcade in Brussels, circa 1890.

Image: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Circa 1900: A shopping arcade in Birmingham.

Image: London Stereoscopic Company/Getty Images

Le Bon Marché, Paris, France, c1900.

Image: Albert Chevojon/Wikimedia Commons

B. Altman Department Store, New York City, c1906

Image: CUNY GC Library

The provision department of Harrods store, circa 1910.

Image: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Párizsi Nagyáruház (Paris Department Store), Budapest, Hungary, c1911.


Galeries Lafayette, Paris, France, circa 1912.

Image: Archives Galeries Lafayette

The French Bazaar, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1913.

Image: Memory of the Netherlands

Image: Memory of the Netherlands

The State Department Store (GUM), Moscow, Soviet Union, c1920.


1925: The meat and poultry department of Harrod's department store in London.

Image: Hawkins/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Circa 1925: Shoppers in London's Burlington Arcade.

Image: General Photographic Agency/Getty Images

Galleria Umberto, Naples, one of Europe's most famous shopping arcades, circa 1930.

Image: General Photographic Agency/Getty Images

The Selfridges flagship store on London's Oxford Street, 1934.

Image: Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Marshall Field & Company, Chicago, Illinois.

Image: Ebay