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You might have guessed that the origin of the word "mall" had something to do with the Malls in London and Washington, DC. But did you know about the Italian mallet connection?

From the Online Etymology Dictionary:

1737, "shaded walk serving as a promenade," generalized from The Mall, name of a broad, tree-lined promenade in St. James's Park, London (so called from 1670s, earlier Maill, 1640s), which was so called because it formerly was an open alley that was used to play pall-mall, a croquet-like game involving hitting a ball with a mallet through a ring, from French pallemaille, from Italian pallamaglio, from palla "ball" (see balloon) + maglio "mallet" (see mallet). Modern sense of "enclosed shopping gallery" is from 1963.

Pall Mall cigarettes also derive their name from the Mall and the "croquet-like game" that was played there.

But I'm not sure about that 1963 date. The Northland Mall near Detroit was built in 1954, and the Oxford English Dictionary dates the first usage of "mall," in the sense of shopping center, to a 1959 article in Chain Store Age: "Kalamazoo's permanent downtown mall... is an expression of the great need to do something to pull the central business districts of our nation out of the low estate in which they have fallen." (The OED also has an arcane definition from 1855 of a mall as "a convention or assembly among the Franks.")

Speaking of the Kalamazoo Mall, it was designed by a man named Victor Gruen, a Viennese architect and very war-on-cars kinda guy—a socialist who wanted to prioritize pedestrians over motors in population centers, whether urban or suburban. So he invented the American shopping mall.

Things didn't turn out the way he'd planned.