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.

Trackbacks

  1. Hidden City | victorianvanities.org Blog
Recent Posts
Of Birds And Drinking Water

Of Birds And Drinking Water

October 21, 2014  |  Morning Blend

Inside the East Park Reservoir, Temple students adopting blocks, UCD to start early on 40th Street plaza, and Jewish life gets a boost at Penn > more

Preservation Alliance Launches

Preservation Alliance Launches “Places To Save” List

October 20, 2014  |  Buzz

The Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia reboots their annual "Endangered Properties" list with new "Places to Save" announcements > more

Bless Our Beer Gardens, Past and Present

Bless Our Beer Gardens, Past and Present

October 20, 2014  |  Behind the Facade

Drinking al fresco reached new heights this summer as brilliantly designed beer gardens popped up all over the city. This isn't anything new though, says Nic Esposito. Philadelphia has been publicly drunk since 1671 > more

Old City Orange Façade To Be Preserved

Old City Orange Façade To Be Preserved

October 20, 2014  |  Morning Blend

Historical Commission okays Old City development, the emblematic stairway at the Barnes, Blatstein serious yet anxious about The Provence, 10 homes for NoLibs, and a salvaged cornice delights in Fishtown > more

The Tombstone Wall Of Society Hill

The Tombstone Wall Of Society Hill

October 17, 2014  |  Vantage

With October at hand and Halloween on the way, we thought a series on historic cemeteries was most appropriate. Our first story presents the strange tale of thirty tombstones that sit embedded in the back wall of the Presbyterian Historical Society > more

Existential Tug-Of-War Along West Cecil B. Moore Avenue

Existential Tug-Of-War Along West Cecil B. Moore Avenue

October 17, 2014  |  Morning Blend

The identity crisis of TempleTown, Family Court opens, artist space coming to Grays Ferry, mixed-use for Ridge, inside the Bok storage facility, and PhillyU collects $60M > more