In this section, we hope to provide a revealing and informative look into the national and regional department store chains that anchored America's mid-20th century shopping malls.

There are sure to be several omissions, as every single store chain, division and detail cannot be included due to space restrictions. Hopefully, the most important players will be mentioned.

From the 1846 opening of Alexander Turney Stewart's Marble Dry Goods Palace, in New York City, the American department store grew into a massive industry. It advanced tremendously with the formation of national department store holding companies in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The first, May Department Stores, could trace its beginnings to a single mercantile which opened, in Leadville, Colorado, in 1877. By the turn of the century, stores in St. Louis and Cleveland had been acquired and the company was beginning to operate with a national focus.

Competing retail-based holding companies emerged. These included Mercantile Stores, Associated Dry Goods, City Stores, Hahn / Allied Stores, Federated Stores and Broadway-Hale Stores.

Allied Stores, under the auspices of its Seattle-based The Bon Marche division, would go on to develop the nation's very first shopping mall in 1949-1950.