Mindwarp: Kresge’s

Is there anything more iconic of the American main street than the five-and-dime? In Philadelphia, every major avenue–from Broad Street to Point Breeze Avenue–boasted at least one. The most popular chain was Woolworth’s. But close behind in Philadelphia was Kresge’s.

The first S. S. Kresge store was opened 1897 by Sebastian Spering Kresge, a traveling salesman who sold to Frank Woolworth’s stores. The Kresge chain grew rapidly and by 1929 there were 597 stores. A few years before Kresge’s death in 1966, he and the company’s president opened a new store: K-Mart. The last Kresge stores in the US closed in the mid-1980s.

While the Philadelphia stores themselves are gone, many of the buildings remain and the majority stand relatively intact. Before browsing the pictures that appear below, I encourage you to download the music that greeted customers in the early 1960s. The music, which was salvaged from a demolished store, can be found HERE.

Click on the blue dot to see the thumbnail photo and address. Have a picture of an old Kresge store not on the map? Send it to us and we’ll add it to the list.


View Former Kresge stores in Philly in a larger map

About the author

Rachel Hildebrandt, a recent graduate of PennDesign, is a native Philadelphian who is passionate about the changing city she inhabits. Before beginning her graduate studies in historic preservation with a focus on policy, Rachel obtained a B.A. in Psychology from Chestnut Hill College and co-authored two books, The Philadelphia Area Architecture of Horace Trumbauer (2009) and Oak Lane, Olney, and Logan (2011). She currently works as a program associate at Partners for Sacred Places.



1 Comment


  1. Very interesting. I’ve noticed the Kresge name on some of these places but never knew the history of it.

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