Eerie never-before-seen photos from inside one of Chicago's abandoned malls

Chicago’s Lincoln Mall shut its doors in January of last year, joining hundreds of now defunct malls in the graveyard of American shopping centres.

In the nearly two years since it closed, the mall has transformed from a vibrant shopping center into an eerie, deserted wasteland.

Photographer Seph Lawless, who became famous documenting the decline of abandoned malls, theme parks, and other buildings, recently visited the location to capture images of what remains. 

Here’s a never-before-seen look at the depressing shell of what was Lincoln Mall. 

Today, the mall is empty, except for garbage, dead trees, and a few stray shopping carts.

Seph Lawless

A few remnants of the mall's past remain, like these banners.

Seph Lawless

However, Lincoln Mall today is more haunted house than shopping hot spot.

Seph Lawless

Lincoln Mall first opened its doors in 1973.

Seph Lawless

Source: The Chicago Tribune

The 700,000-square-foot mall had the capacity to host four anchor stores and 100 smaller shops.

Seph Lawless

However, in the mall's final months, it was home to just 40 businesses.

Seph Lawless

Source: The Chicago Tribune

The closure of Sears in 2012 was a major blow to the mall's business.

Seph Lawless

Source: Chicago Now

In 2013, the mall's owner told The Chicago Tribune that the mall was losing $2 million a year.

Seph Lawless

The same year, a court-ordered receiver was appointed to force the location to pay taxes and fines, as well as make necessary repairs.

Seph Lawless

The mall's tenants did not generate enough in rent to pay for the improvements or repairs, according to an attorney for the owner.

Seph Lawless

Source: The Chicago Tribune

The mall reportedly failed to make these changes, which included creating new exits to comply with fire codes and replacing electrical and air conditioning systems.

Seph Lawless

In November 2014, Cook County judge ordered the closure of the mall following the holiday shopping season.

Seph Lawless

At the time, the mall's owner owed $10 million in unpaid fines and taxes, according to local officials.

Seph Lawless

Now, the mall is in a far worse state of disrepair.

Seph Lawless

Roughly two years after the mall was ordered to close, Lawless visited to take these photos.

Seph Lawless

The photographer says he visited the mall on November 20, 2016, just days before Black Friday.

Seph Lawless

Shops are dark and empty.

Seph Lawless

Forget shoppers -- there isn't not another person in sight.

Seph Lawless

The trip was part of Lawless's project, Autopsy of America, which is intended to document abandoned and forgotten sites across the US.

Seph Lawless

Photos -- including these -- from the project will be included in Lawless's book, 'Autopsy of America: The Death of a Nation,' which will be released in early 2017.

Seph Lawless

While the Lincoln Mall is not looking good now, there may still be hope for the location.

Seph Lawless

In October, The Chicago Tribune reported that a real estate developer was formulating a redevelopment plan for the site.

Seph Lawless

Source: The Chicago Tribune

Developers have said the space will likely be transformed into a combination of residential and retail spaces.

Seph Lawless

Proposed uses include apartments and town homes, mixed with restaurants, offices, and perhaps even a water park.

Seph Lawless

Source: The Chicago Tribune

In other words, soon the Lincoln Mall may be looking very different than the eerie scene Lawless discovered.

Seph Lawless

In the meantime, here's a video that Lawless made, documenting his trip.

To see more of Lawless's photographs, you can visit the photographer's Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube.

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