Circa-1921

 Circa-1932

Circa-1937

"The Penney Company", as J.C. himself referred to it, weathered an anti-chain store movement, which was underway by 1925. In certain circles, it was opined that chain stores were "ruining small communities". Luckily for Penney's, a Congressional anti-chain store bill failed to pass in 1940, putting an end to said movement.
Circa-1942 

Circa-1950

Some of J.C. Penney's first suburban shopping center stores opened in Memphis' POPLAR HIGHLAND PLAZA (1949) and Greater New York City's LEVITTOWN CENTER (1951). At the time, all stores were so-called dry goods only operations. Unlike Sears and Montgomery Ward, who operated some full-line stores, Penney's carried only apparel, fashion accessories, shoes, housewares, linens, curtains and other "soft lines".


The "J.C. Penney Co." store that anchored Greater New Orleans' LAKESIDE CENTER mall opened in March 1960. It encompassed approximately 43,200 square feet and typified the standard "dry goods only" Penney's store.

EARLY J.C. PENNEY SHOPPING MALL STORES (dry goods only):

*LOS ALTOS CENTER, Long Beach, CA (1955)
*163rd STREET CENTER, Dade County, FL (1956)
*STEWART-LAKEWOOD CENTER, Atlanta, GA (1959)

In November 1961, "Penney's Audobon" opened in Camden County, New Jersey. Encompassing approximately 172,000 square feet, it was the company's first full-line suburban store. It was followed by a second in August 1963. The "J.C. Penney Co." operation at Greater Philadelphia's KING OF PRUSSIA PLAZA encompassed approximately 220,000 square feet and opened as the largest store in the chain.


"Penney's Audobon", which was an anchor of Camden County, New Jersey's BLACK HORSE PIKE CENTER. It, and the subsequent KING OF PRUSSIA PLAZA store, were stepping stones. They bridged the gap between early "dry goods only" mercantiles and newer full-line "Penneys" locations.
Drawing from http://www.flickr.com / "JSF0864"

The two full-line "J.C. Penney Co." stores included departments carrying lawn & garden items, sporting goods, apparel, fashion accessories, shoes, housewares, fabrics, linens, curtains, floor coverings, furniture, large appliances and electronics. A standard-size store, which opened at Melbourne, Florida's BREVARD MALL in August 1963, included the very first "Penneys Auto Center".
Circa-1963

A new corporate identity and "Penneys" store prototype were unveiled between late 1962 and late 1964. The new product lines introduced at the "J.C. Penney Co." BLACK HORSE PIKE and KING OF PRUSSIA PLAZA locations were expanded.

Subsequent full-line "Penneys" stores would also include a coffee shop, beauty shop, portrait studio and "Penneys Auto Center". One of the first new generation stores opened August 20, 1964, at Florida's WINTER PARK MALL.

EARLY J.C. PENNEY SHOPPING MALL STORES (full-line):

*WHITE LAKES MALL, Topeka, KS (1964)
*SOUTHLAND CENTER, Hayward, CA (1964)
*MELLETT MALL, Canton, OH (1965)


By the late '60s, the J.C. Penney chain was building new full-line stores at a rapid clip. The example depicted here anchored South Florida's PALM BEACH MALL. Encompassing 220,000 square feet, it commenced operation in October 1967.

1956 was a banner year for the American shopping mall! Major mall-type centers were dedicated from coast-to-coast. These included Baltimore's MONDAWMIN CENTER, Long Island's ROOSEVELT FIELD CENTER, Chicago's OLD ORCHARD CENTER, San Jose's VALLEY FAIR CENTER, Miami's 163rd STREET CENTER and Houston's GULFGATE SHOPPING CITY.

Greater Minneapolis' SOUTHDALE CENTER -the first regional-class, fully-enclosed complex in the nation- was the most noteworthy 1956 opening of all.

Along with the flurry of major retail complex dedications came the first shopping mall built in the Greater Washington, DC; Fairfax County, Virginia's 7 CORNERS CENTER. It opened for business in October. By the close of the decade, the region's second mall -the first in the Maryland Metro- had opened for business. PRINCE GEORGES PLAZA was officially dedicated in March 1959.


A map of the DC region, dated late 1968. The first seven shopping malls in the area are indicated with black squares. Highways and byways are also indicated with the names they were known by at the time. The first segment of the Henry G. Shirley Highway, which was the very first controlled-access expressway in -or around- DC, is indicated in blue.
-Click on image for a larger view-

The suburbanization of our nation's capital was given much impetus by the construction and completion of its ring road expressway, the Capital Beltway. This 63.8 mile loop was originally built between 1957 and 1964.

A 1.6 mile segment, extending between MD 355 (Wisconsin Avenue) and MD Route 185 (Connecticut Avenue) opened to traffic October 25, 1957. The final section, comprising 24.7 miles and stretching between MD Route 355 (Wisconsin Avenue) and MD Route 4 (Pennsylvania Avenue), was completed August 17, 1964.

With the Beltway now in place, the malling of the District and its environs would get going in earnest. A third shopping venue, Maryland's 1 million square foot WHEATON PLAZA, had welcomed its first patrons in February 1960. The dedication of this shopping facility was followed by one for Virginia's LANDMARK CENTER, which was held in August 1965.

1968 brought the first Beltway-adjacent retail hubs; Maryland's MONTGOMERY MALL and Virginia's TYSONS CORNER CENTER. By the close of the 1970s, the Virginia-Maryland metro featured fifteen shopping malls, with six of these being freeway-friendly.

Looking back, it could be said that the DC region was slow in the development of its first fully-enclosed shopping center. It took until late 1967 for the the first (Maryland's IVERSON MALL) to be completed.

DC had been behind the times. Minneapolis had had an enclosed mall for nearly 11 years. Baltimore had dedicated its first interior mall 9 years before. Dallas went indoors -mall-wise- 8 years previously and Chicagoland's RANDHURST CENTER was nearly 6 years old.
METRO MALLS



Over the past four decades, DC's Metro system has grown exponentially. A 4.6 mile -seven station- starter line opened March 27, 1976. As of 2018, the network stretched for 117 route miles, with ninety-one station stops. The 23 mile -twelve station- Silver Line Extension, to TYSONS CORNER CENTER and Dulles International Airport, is now under construction. Its 11.6 route mile first phase began revenue service in July 2014.
-Click on image for a larger view-

Arlington, Virginia's subterranean CRYSTAL CITY complexes became the first Metro-adjacent shopping malls, in 1977. The next came along in 1984, when the struggling ROCKVILLE MALL, in Maryland, was reinvented as ROCKVILLE METRO CENTER.

The Metro system was extended to Arlington, Virginia's BALLSTON COMMON (1986) and FASHION CENTRE AT PENTAGON CITY (1989). Subway routes soon reached Maryland's WHEATON PLAZA (1990) and PRINCE GEORGES PLAZA (1993). Other malls indicated on the diagram above were located near, but still a distance away from, a Metro stop.

In the 21 century, two lifestyle centers have been built at Metro stations; Virginia's MARKET COMMON AT CLARENDON (2001) [not indicated on map] and Maryland's THE BOULEVARD AT THE CAPITAL CENTER (2003). In 2014, Virginia's TYSONS CORNER CENTER became a Metro-adjacent shopping mall.
Virginia's Seven Corners Center


The distinctive 7 CORNERS sign, which stood at the Thorne Road entrance into the shopping complex. The "7" was a weather indicator. If it was lit in red, bad weather was on the way. Green meant nice weather. White predicted cloudy skies.

DC-based Woodward & Lothrop anchored the east end of SEVEN CORNERS CENTER. The store had 4 levels; 3 were used for retail, with the fourth housing corporate offices. This was the chain's fourth branch location.


On the west end of the complex was another DC-based retailer; Julius Garfinckel & Company, a.k.a. Garfinckel's. The store, encompassing 3 levels, was the chain's second branch.
Drawing from http://departmentstoremuseum.blogspot.com

A circa-1957 site plan of Washington, DC's first shopping mall. Its 2 primary retail floors are depicted here. The mall proper consisted of 3 levels, with a service tunnel accessed from its northwest and southeast ends.


SEVEN CORNERS CENTER TENANTS 1957 (PARTIAL LIST):

WOODWARD & LOTHROP (with The Fort Buffalo Room restaurant) / JULIUS GARFINCKEL & COMPANY / FOOD LANE supermarket (outparcel) / F. W. WOOLWORTH (with luncheonette) / PEOPLES DRUG (with luncheonette) / Bond Clothes / Chandler's Shoes / E.D. Edwards Shoes / Fannie Mae Candies / Fairfax County National Bank (outparcel) / Franklin Simon / Holiday Shoes / Ike's Barber Shop / Joseph R. Harris ladies' wear / L. Frank Company ladies' wear / Russell Stover Candies / Mayer & Company Furniture / Peck & Peck / S & W Cafeteria / Thom McAn Shoes / Western Auto / William Hahn & Company Shoes


In a cut-away view of the split-level facility, we see how its two open-air shopping concourses were configured. The "South Mall" was accessed from the Upper Level (Leesburg Pike) parking lot, with the "North Mall" facing on the Lower Level (Arlington Boulevard) lot.

By the early 1990s, SEVEN CORNERS had been outpositioned by the myriad of newer shopping venues in its vicinity. Between early 1995 and late 1997, the complex was given a major remodeling. The mall proper and Garfinckel's were gutted and renovated, with the vacant Woodward & Lothrop being razed. It was replaced by a vertically-stacked Shopper's Club and Home Depot (in medium gray).

Barnes & Noble was part of the Phase I renovation of SEVEN CORNERS CENTER. The store, which was one of the first to open in the renovated shopping hub, began business in late 1995.
Photo from www.saulcenters.com 


Ross Dress For Less was also brought into SEVEN CORNERS as part of the Phase I renovation. It, too, opened for business in late 1995.
Photo from www.saulcenters.com 


The vertically-stacked Shopper's Club-Home Depot, and an adjacent parking garage, were the only newly-built structures at the new & improved SEVEN CORNERS CENTER. Part of the Phase II renovation, these stores opened for business in late 1997.
Photo from www.saulcenters.com


Chipotle Mexican Grill, an outparcel of the shopping center, is a newer addition to the tenant list.
Photo from www.saulcenters.com

In a circa-2010 plan, we see newer tenants such as Syms apparel and The Room Store. Two sit-down restaurants have also been built in the periphery of the shopping facility; Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and the aforementioned Chipotle Mexican Grill.


In a site plan from 6 years later, we see that Burlington (Coat Factory) has moved into a vacant Syms space. Likewise, Home Depot has expanded into area previously filled by The RoomStore (and later by RoomStyle).
SEVEN CORNERS CENTER
Arlington Boulevard / US 50 and Leesburg Pike
Fairfax County, Virginia

Construction commenced on Washington, DC's first suburban shopping mall in June 1955. The complex was built on a 32 acre tract, located 6 miles southwest of the United States Capitol, in an unincorporated section of Fairfax County, Virginia known as Seven Corners.

The area was named for its junction of five roads; Arlington Boulevard, Leesburg Pike, Wilson Boulevard, Sleepy Hollow Road and Hillwood Avenue. These merge at a point northwest of the shopping center tract and form "Seven Corners".

SEVEN CORNERS CENTER was designed and developed by DC-based Kass-Berger Incorporated. The first three tenants to open for business held grand openings on September 20, 1956. These stores were Joseph R. Harris, Franklin Simon and a 4-level (128,000 square foot) Woodward & Lothrop ["Low-thrup"].

The second anchor store, a 3-level (71,000 square foot) Julius Garfinckel & Company, was dedicated, along with the rest of the 25 million dollar mall, on October 4, 1956.

Open-air in format, the split-level shopping hub consisted of two covered mallways; one accessed from the southern (upper level) parking area, the second from the northern (lower level) lot. Beneath lower level stores was a basement, which connected with two service tunnels.

Inline stores in the 600,000 square foot complex included L. Frank Company, Peck & Peck, Chandler's Shoes, Raleigh's Haberdashery and Mayer & Company Furniture. An F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10 and Peoples Drug had 2 levels. Woolworth's had an escalator between its floors; the levels of Peoples Drug were connected via a staircase.

An auto center and Fairfax County National Bank main office were outparcels of the mall proper. In addition, there was a freestanding Food Lane supermarket. Operated as a subsidiary of Philadelphia-based Food Fair, the (32,000 square foot) store opened November 28, 1956 and was rebranded as a Food Fair September 15, 1960.

SEVEN CORNERS CENTER was the preeminent shopping destination in northern Virginia until the malling of the area gained impetus in the 1960s. Alexandria's LANDMARK CENTER {4 miles southeast, in Alexandria} was dedicated in 1965. TYSONS CORNER CENTER {5 miles northwest, in Fairfax County} opened in 1968.

In order to compete, the north and south concourses at SEVEN CORNERS CENTER were enclosed in 1977. As this was being done, the malling of Washington and its environs continued unabated. By 1988, there were twenty regional shopping venues in the SEVEN CORNERS trade area.

The days of SEVEN CORNERS CENTER as a major shopping center were coming to an end. This was exacerbated by the closing of its Garfinckel's, in June 1990. The building was leased to F & M Distributors, a discount drug store.

A prospective renovation of the property had been on the drawing board for some years. Phase I of the project got underway in the mid-1990s, under the auspices of Chevy Chase, Maryland-based Saul Centers.

Smaller inline tenants were moved to an adjacent strip center in June 1995. The existing mall, excluding the Woodward & Lothrop structure, was gutted and reconfigured with exterior-entranced store spaces.

Woodward & Lothrop shut down in November 1995. Its building was demolished in October 1996. By this time, new Phase I stores had opened. These included Barnes & Noble, Ross Dress For Less, Best Buy and Bob's Store (a Connecticut-based discount apparel retailer). Two outparcel restaurants, Wendy's and Pizzaria Uno, opened for business in March and September 1996.

Phase II of the renovation involved the construction of a vertically-stacked (72,300 square foot) Shopper's Club Food & Pharmacy and (124,400 square foot) Home Depot. These were built on the old Woodward & Lothrop spot and opened for business in late 1997.

A multilevel parking garage had also been constructed. With the dedication of these structures, the renewed SEVEN CORNERS CENTER encompassed approximately 561,000 leasable square feet and contained around thirty stores and services.

Over the ensuing years, tenants came and went. Bob's Store closed in the summer of 1997. Best Buy shut down in 2003. New Jersey's Syms apparel was in operation between August 2009 and December 2011. The Texas-based RoomStore, a home furnishings retailer, was shuttered in July 2012.

A (47,400 square foot) Burlington Coat Factory assumed space vacated by Syms, and opened its doors on October 26, 2012. Home Depot expanded into a 55,000 square foot space, which had been occupied by The RoomStore (and later by RoomStyle). The expanded (180,400 square foot) Home Depot was dedicated in September 2016.

Sources:

The Washington Post
preservenet.cornell.edu/publications/Longstreth Branch Store.doc
Comment by "CJ"
www.fccc.org / Fairfax County Chamber Of Commerce website
The Falls Church News-Free Press
www.saulcenters.com
Maryland's Prince Georges Plaza


One of the first generation of Washington, DC shopping malls, PRINCE GEORGES PLAZA was officially dedicated in March 1959. Here we see Center Court, with the main entrance of a Hecht's anchor store off in the distance.
Photo from Library of Congress

A view of the original mall's Main Entrance. This was flanked by several flag poles, which created a "Court of Flags". This feature was used in other malls of the period, such as Boston's NORTHSHORE CENTER and Philly's KING OF PRUSSIA PLAZA.
Photo from Library of Congress 


A southward view of the Main Entrance.
Photo from Library of Congress

A circa-1959 site plan shows the original configuration of "PG PLAZA". At the time, there was only one anchor department store and two junior anchors; a G.C. Murphy 5 & 10 on the east and Grand Union supermarket on the west.

In this Center Court view, the East Wing of the mall extends into infinity. A "Murphy's" 5 & dime mall entrance would be off in the distance.
Photo from Library of Congress

Here we see a breezeway that was on the west side of the Hecht's anchor store.
Photo from Library of Congress


The same area, but viewed from the northwest.
Photo from Library of Congress


A stairway, connecting the lower parking lot at the rear of the complex with the main ("mall") level.
Photo from Library of Congress


A view of the rear of the mall and Hecht's store; this  taken from the lower level parking lot.
Photo from Library of Congress

From this vantage point, we see the west end of Center Court, with Barricini Candy in the foreground and Hecht's and Hahn stores across the mallway.
Photo from Library of Congress 


Proceeding farther west, we have a Wilson's men's wear store on the left side of the mallway.
Photo from Library of Congress


Well into the mall's West Wing, we see Bond Clothes on the left and E.D. Edwards Shoes on the right.
Photo from Library of Congress

Apparently, there have been two different Grand Union supermarkets at the mall. Here we see the first, which was located at the west end of the West Wing.
Photo from Library of Congress


The Grand Union above was replaced by this building, which housed a 149,000 square foot Woodward & Lothrop. It opened in 1966.
Drawing from http://departmentstoremuseum.blogspot.com

PG PLAZA, circa-1970. Still open-air, the complex now features two bona fide anchors. An expansion on the west end, built along with Woodward & Lothrop in the mid-'60s, included a new location for the center's Grand Union supermarket.

A Food Court, built at the mall's Main Entrance, was part of a renovation that was completed in June 1990.
Photo from www.preit.com (Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust)

In this snapshot, and the two that follow, we see views of the same spot in three different eras. The photo above shows the mall's main anchor as it appeared in 1959.
Photo from Library of Congress


Here we see the store in the year 2005.
Photo from www.labelscar.com / "Caldor"


Lastly, we see said store after its "Macy-ation", which transpired in August 2006.
Photo from www.preit.com (Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust)

Old Navy was created out of three smaller inline retail spaces. This store, which has now been relocated, opened for business in August 2000.
Photo from www.preit.com (Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust)


The shopping center was officially known as PRINCE GEORGES PLAZA between 1959 and 2004. Above, we have the mall's official logo, from the year 2001.
Graphic from https://web.archive.org/web/20010428024153/http://www.princegeorgesplaza.com (Website on Internet Archive Wayback Machine)


This trademark made its debut In November 2004, as a 6 million dollar renovation was wrapping up. The complex would be known, henceforth, as THE MALL AT PRINCE GEORGES.
Graphic from https://web.archive.org/web/20100515144157/http://www.mallatprincegeorges.com (Website on Internet Archive Wayback Machine)

That well-known Minneapolis merchandiser took up shop in the shopping center in October 2004. This new Target took the place of G.C. Murphy, which had closed in August 1999.
Photo from www.preit.com (Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust)


Ross Dress For Less and Marshalls stores were established in lower level space beneath Target. These retailers began business in late 2006.
Photo from www.preit.com (Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust)


In a circa-2006 physical layout, we see changes made over the past several years. These modifications include a Food Court, which was installed at the center of the center in 1990, and the aforementioned Target-Marshalls-Ross. An Outback Steakhouse has also been built, as freestanding store, in the front parking area.  

T.J. Maxx took space previously occupied by Office Depot (which had originally housed a Grand Union grocery). The T.J. Maxx store opened in October 2013.
Photo from www.preit.com (Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust)


A comprehensive refurbishment got underway at MALL AT PRINCE GEORGE'S in late 2016. This logo debuted, as part of the 30 million dollar mall makeover.
Graphic from www.preit.com (Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust)


The interior of the complex was updated with new flooring, soft seating areas and updated storefronts. Likewise, mall entrances were rebuilt and exterior surfaces refinished.
Drawing from www.preit.com (Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust)


J.C. Penney, a mall tenant since July 1996, was also renovated. The store was joined by new tenants, such as Five Below, Ulta Beauty and Five Guys Burgers & Fries.
Photo from www.preit.com (Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust


We end our excursion with a circa-2019 site plan. The mall, which now commemorates its 60th anniversary, has just been remodeled. Stores such as Old Navy were relocated, but only one all-new structure was built. A (6,200 square foot) Five Below was added to the west side of T.J. Maxx.