For The Retail Record Books

Facts and Figures About America's Mid-20th Century Shopping Malls.


*In 2018, the largest mid-20th century-vintage shopping mall is the 2,902,000 square foot KING OF PRUSSIA MALL, in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Today's mega complex is a marriage of two separate shopping centers. These were previously known as KING OF PRUSSIA PLAZA (1963) and COURT AT KING OF PRUSSIA (1981). These were joined by an enclosed, connecting concourse between 2013 and 2016.

*The largest suburban shopping mall anchor store ever built was the J.L. Hudson at Greater Detroit's NORTHLAND CENTER. The original 4-level store, which opened in March 1954, encompassed 486,200 square feet. It was enlarged to 5-levels (and 536,000 square feet) in 1960. Hudson's was rebranded by Marshall Field's in August 2001 and Macy's in September 2006. Macy's shuttered the location in 2015.


The first two lists were compiled using "Dual Anchor Shopping Centers 1952-1965" (Richard Longstreth) as a source. The information included therein was culled from local newspapers, Womens Wear Daily and The Directory of Shopping Centers in the United States and Canada, 5th Edition (1962). The last three lists were put together myself, using info provided by various shopping mall real estate investment trusts and other sources.

IN 1956:

1. OLD ORCHARD CENTER [1,079,000 sf], Skokie, IL
2. NORTHLAND CENTER [1,040,200 sf], Oakland County, MI
3. ROOSEVELT FIELD CENTER [902,900 sf], Nassua County, NY
4. SOUTHDALE CENTER [810,000 sf], Edina, MN
5. GULFGATE SHOPPING CITY [800,000 sf], Houston, TX
    MID-ISLAND PLAZA [800,000 sf], Nassau County, NY

IN 1960:

1. GARDEN STATE PLAZA [1,340,000 sf], Paramus, NJ
2. LLOYD CENTER [1,200,000 sf], Portland, OR
3. OLD ORCHARD CENTER [1,142,000 sf], Skokie, IL
4. NORTHLAND CENTER [1,101,200 sf], Southfield, MI
5. WHEATON PLAZA [1,100,000 sf], Montgomery County, MD

IN 1968:

1. ROOSEVELT FIELD MALL [1,485,000 sf], Nassau County, NY
2. CINDERELLA CITY MALL [1,350,000 sf], Englewood, CO
3. GARDEN STATE PLAZA [1,340,000 sf], Paramus, NJ
4. OAKBROOK CENTER [1,300,000 sf], Oak Brook, IL
    YORKTOWN CENTER [1,300,000 sf], Lombard, IL
5. SUNVALLEY CENTER [1,255,000 sf], Concord, CA

IN 1973:

1. ROOSEVELT FIELD MALL [2,000,000 sf], Nassau County, NY
2. WOODFIELD MALL [1,787,700 sf], Schaumburg, IL
3. METROCENTER MALL [1,391,000 sf], Phoenix, AZ
4. CINDERELLA CITY MALL [1,350,000 sf], Englewood, CO
5. GARDEN STATE PLAZA [1, 340,000 sf], Paramus, NJ

IN 2018:

1. MALL OF AMERICA [2,942,000 square feet], Bloomington, MN
2. AVENTURA MALL * [2,941,000 square feet], Aventura, FL
3. KING OF PRUSSIA MALL [2,902,000 square feet], Montgomery County, PA
4. DEL AMO FASHION CENTER [2,269,000 square feet], Torrance, CA
5. ALA MOANA CENTER [2,581,000 square feet], Honolulu, HI

* Expansion under construction in 2018.

First & Foremost


*Seattle's NORTHGATE CENTER is considered the first suburban-style shopping mall in the nation. It was the first with a pedestrian concourse flanked by stores and the first to be anchored by a large department store branch (Seattle's The Bon Marche).

*The first major shopping complex in the nation to be officially named a "Mall" was BERGEN MALL, which opened -in Paramus, New Jersey- in November 1957. In the 1950s, and into the late 1960s, it was typical of a mall-type shopping hub to not be referred to as a "Mall". More than likely, the official name would have been "Center", "Square", "Plaza", "Shopping City" or "Shopping Park".

*America's first shopping mall with 2 levels of retail was Framingham, Massachusetts' SHOPPERS' WORLD. The open-air complex was dedicated in October 1951.

*The first regional-class, fully-enclosed, 2-level shopping mall was Edina, Minnesota's SOUTHDALE CENTER. Its grand opening was held in October 1956.

*The earliest 2-anchor shopping malls in the nation were WESTGATE CENTER, Fairview Park, Ohio (bi-anchored in April 1954); PARK FOREST PLAZA, Park Forest, Illinois (bi-anchored in March 1955) and CROSS COUNTY CENTER, Yonkers, New York (bi-anchored in September 1955).

*The earliest 3-anchor shopping mall was Mount Prospect, Illinois' RANDHURST CENTER, which was dedicated in August 1962.

*With the completion of its Scruggs, Vandervoort & Barney department store in 1965, St. Ann, Missouri's NORTHWEST PLAZA became the nation's first 4-anchor shopping mall.

*Phoenix, Arizona's METROCENTER was the earliest 5-anchor shopping mall in the United States. The complex opened for business in October 1973.


*The Northgate Theatre, America's first shopping mall movie house, was dedicated September 28, 1951, at Greater Seattle's NORTHGATE CENTER.

*Cinema I & II, at Peabody, Massachusetts' NORTHSHORE CENTER, was America's first mall multiplex. It was built as an outparcel of the existing shopping center and showed its first features May 29, 1963.

*The Parkway Twin, the first twin cinema physically inside a shopping mall, was dedicated at Kansas City, Missouri's WARD PARKWAY CENTER on July 12, 1963.

*The AMC SixWest, the nation's earliest shopping mall six-plex, opened for business on January 22, 1969. The venue was located in Omaha's WESTROADS MALL.


*The earliest shopping center parking garage was dedicated at Kansas City, Missouri's COUNTRY CLUB PLAZA in April 1923.

*The shopping mall food court -as we came to know it- was developed over several years. Early prototypes existed as far back as the mid-1960s in California's SUNVALLEY CENTER and SOUTH COAST PLAZA and at Sydney, Australia's ROSELANDS CENTRE. The first culinary complex to be referred to as a (quote-unquote) "Food Court" opened in 1971 at Philadelphia's PLYMOUTH MEETING MALL. This was an unsuccessful venture and was quickly removed. A more lucrative version opened at New Jersey's PARAMUS PARK MALL in 1974.