Tuesday, October 11, 2011

On being first

Philly.com asserts an interesting "first" for the "Cherry Hill Mall":

In a former farm field in what was then Delaware Township, the first purpose-built enclosed, climate- controlled shopping center east of the Mississippi opened.

Today we know it as the Cherry Hill Mall.

In the following 5 decades, more malls would spring up in the suburbs surrounding Philadelphia, signaling the decline of most small town Main Streets and the city's own Department Store row on East Market Street, then home to Lit Brothers, Strawbridge & Clothier, Gimbels and John Wanamakers.

Of them, only the Wanamaker's building remains in use as a department store, under the Macy's name.

When it opened on Oct. 11, 1961, it was known as the Cherry Hill Shopping Center and postcards from the era described scenes of its gardened interior as "On the Mall at Cherry Hill."

There are two caveats to the assertion of "first":

#1. purpose built
#2. east of the Mississippi

According to wikipedia, the first climate controlled mall was Southdale Center, commonly known as just Southdale, a shopping mall in Edina, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis, which opened in 1956. It is the United States' oldest fully enclosed, climate-controlled mall. [Edina is just west of the Mississippi River]

In Orlando, FL, Colonial Plaza opened Jan. 30, 1956, but the "climate-controlled" part did not come until the time of Jordan Marsh, in October 1962. Keep in mind, the Cuban missile crisis was in October 1962, and ended on October 28, 1962.


On the opening of Colonial Plaza: http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/keyword/colonial-plaza

On Jordan Marsh: http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/keyword/jordan-marsh

Of Southdale, wikipedia also noted:

Gruen was a European style socialist; he hated the suburban lifestyle of 1950s America and wanted to design a building that would bring people together into a community, by providing a meeting place that American towns lacked. They would come together to shop, drink coffee, and socialize. He modeled Southdale on the arcades of European cities,[9] although his original vision was never achieved. Gruen also saw the mall as the center of a community. When he first drew up the plans for Southdale, he placed the shopping center at the heart of a 463 acre (1.9 kmĀ²) development, complete with apartment buildings, houses, schools, a medical center, a park, and a lake. Southdale, in Gruen's opinion, was not a suburban alternative to downtown Minneapolis. It was the Minneapolis downtown you would get if you started over and corrected all the mistakes that were made the first time around. Gruen planned for an atmosphere of leisure, excitement, and intimacy to be created. To achieve this he placed works of art, decorative lighting, fountains, tropical plants, and flowers throughout the mall.


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