The 2.9 million square foot "American Dream" retail complex, located in New Jersey about 8 miles outside of Manhattan, has only been open for about 24 hours and has already managed to piss off a handful of commuters.
The planned opening of the complex on Friday caused aggravation for some New York City commuters who found that, as a result of the mall's big day, their usual bus boarding gates had been switched without notice, according to Bloomberg.
On Friday, about two dozen riders were redirected from their usual boarding areas, leaving many commuters "fuming" about a lack of notice of the change. According to New Jersey Transit, nine routes will have new permanent gates as a result of the changes, all effective immediately.
Recall, on Thursday of last week we detailed how the the "American Dream" retail complex was set to open after 16 years of "false starts and multiple developers".
Malls have, for better or worse, become part of the fabric of New Jersey, with even a 1994 State Supreme Court ruling calling them “traditionally the home of free speech” in the state.
New Jersey malls are also notorious for their drama and the $5 billion behemoth - complete with its 450 shops and restaurants, amusement parks, ice rink and ski area - is likely going to carry the torch of that tradition forward.
There's still skepticism about the mall's location and long-term viability, however, especially since the project has hit endless setbacks and hangups since first being conceptualized 17 years ago, long before the current "age of Amazon".
Retail historian Michael Lisicky said: “I looked at it almost like a freak show when it was under construction. This is the American dream, having what looks like a dog’s breakfast in the middle of the Meadowlands, that is of questionable ecological health? Then topping it off with a retail component closed on Sundays?”
Robert Kugler, a 46-year-old author and publisher from Virginia who has a shore home in New Jersey, said: "I can’t think of a reason I’d ever go to East Rutherford ever again in my life unless I was going to see the Eagles play.”
George Ritzer, a University of Maryland sociology professor who came up with the term "cathedrals of consumption" said: "What the new mall is trying to be is a spectacle -- a number of different spectacles."
And New Jersey malls are no stranger to spectacles. For example, in 2016, a costumed Easter Bunny at Newport Centre in Jersey City was smacked by an irate parent - and the video went viral on YouTube.
Lisicky said: “You’ve got to love these quirks of New Jersey. Maybe American Dream is going to be one of those quirks.”