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

Leave a Reply

Comment moderation is enabled, no need to resubmit any comments posted.

Recent Posts
Docomomo PHL To Host

Docomomo PHL To Host “Wake” For Modernist Store

June 18, 2018  |  News

Modernist architecture advocacy group will hold a demonstration to protest Philadelphia's historic preservation crisis. Michael Bixler has the details > more

The Rise, Fall, & Revival Of North Broad's Opera Palace

The Rise, Fall, & Revival Of North Broad’s Opera Palace

June 14, 2018  |  Vantage

Rob McClung takes us on a journey through the turbulent history and present reawakening of the mighty Metropolitan Opera House at Broad and Poplar > more

A Brief History Of Race & Contested Space In West Philly

A Brief History Of Race & Contested Space In West Philly

June 11, 2018  |  Vantage

Mariam Williams dives deep into the social evolution of Malcolm X Park to unearth the history of race and economics within a neighborhood space > more

Italian Market Project Puts Fresh Eyes On A Philly Staple

Italian Market Project Puts Fresh Eyes On A Philly Staple

June 8, 2018  |  Vantage

The Italian Market Project mixes a walking tour with Philly-accented theater in a fun, immersive experience. Mickey Herr has the details > more

Taking History To The Streets With Preservation Activism

Taking History To The Streets With Preservation Activism

June 6, 2018  |  Soapbox

Ali Roseberry-Polier discusses civil rights history, selective public memory, and why she created an historical marker for a Black female activist who challenged segregation in 19th century Philadelphia > more

A Buzzy New Beginning For Poth Brewing Company

A Buzzy New Beginning For Poth Brewing Company

June 4, 2018  |  Last Light

Before renovations begin, Michael Bixler takes us inside the remains of Poth Brewing Company with this photo essay > more