Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II

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Giuseppe Mengoni, 1829–77

Milan, Italy; designed 1861, constructed 1867–78

The arcades of Paris, which so preoccupied the philosopher Walter Benjamin, were the precursors of the department store and the shopping mall. There were dozens of them, each typically linking one side of an urban block with the other by a covered passage with a glazed roof to let in daylight. Some were smarter than others, but by Benjamin’s day (the 1930s) they were run down and being demolished – seeming to belong to the world of the unconscious, lurking just out of sight of the official streets, forming their network of hidden routes, ...

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