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
Historical Commission Hardship Meeting Puts Sloan Mansion One Step Closer To Demolition

Historical Commission Hardship Meeting Puts Sloan Mansion One Step Closer To Demolition

December 19, 2014  |  Buzz

It has been a long, complicated saga for the Samuel Sloan-designed John P. Levy House at 40th and Pine. Today the Historical Commission's Hardship Committee added the story with a recommendation that may clear the way for the Italliante mansion's demolition > more

Travels Through The Ghost City

Travels Through The Ghost City

December 19, 2014  |  Last Light

The wrecking ball and the crane seem to be the symbols of the year as Philadelphia's built landscape changes--in some places at a furious pace. Architect Andrew Evans has been paying attention--his time-lapse images capture the process as the new replaces the old > more

Baking Yuletide Cheer At Potito's

Baking Yuletide Cheer At Potito’s

December 19, 2014  |  Last Light

There is nothing like lining up to buy baked goods in South Philly during the holidays. Theresa Stigale has this photo essay about Potito's, a classic, family-owned neighborhood bakery at 16th and Ritner > more

Temple Police Treading An Expanded Beat These Days

Temple Police Treading An Expanded Beat These Days

December 18, 2014  |  Morning Blend

North Philly university moves to protect its off-campus students from violent crime, DVRPC approves I-95 capping study, Nightingale Properties to rebrand Seven Penn Center, and a “Little Farm” expands in South Kensington > more

With Churches Fast Disappearing In Fishtown, A Chance To See What's At Stake

With Churches Fast Disappearing In Fishtown, A Chance To See What’s At Stake

December 18, 2014  |  News

What to do with all the churches? With the imminent loss of another Fishtown church, New Kensington Community Development Corporation wants you to see what's at stake--join them for a post-holiday tour. Michael Bixler reports > more

Transforming The Schuylkill

Transforming The Schuylkill

December 17, 2014  |  Morning Blend

A re-bridging of sorts for the Central Schuylkill, good news for South Philly ship, Liberty Square work begins, and the lax enforcement of condos’ Christmas tree ban > more