Suburban Square

Suburban Square is a community shopping center in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, United States, in the Main Line suburbs of Philadelphia. it has 355,000-square-foot (33,000 m2)[1] of gross leasable area. The center opened in 1928, and is notable as one of the earliest planned suburban shopping centers in the United States.[2] It has also been generally credited as being the first suburban shopping center to include a true department store, when Strawbridge & Clothier opened a four-story, 50,000 sq ft (4,600 m2)[3] branch there on May 12, 1930.[4][5][6] The site has grown from its original 7 acres (28,000 m2) to 18 acres (73,000 m2) since its launch.[7] The complex currently includes Suburban Square, Times Building, and the adjacent Ardmore Farmers Market and features more than sixty retail and dining establishments.

Suburban Square
Suburban Square 4.jpg
Suburban Square, 2019
LocationArdmore, Pennsylvania
Coordinates40°00′30″N 75°17′17″W / 40.00833°N 75.28806°W / 40.00833; -75.28806Coordinates: 40°00′30″N 75°17′17″W / 40.00833°N 75.28806°W / 40.00833; -75.28806
Opening date1928
ManagementKimco Realty
OwnerKimco Realty
No. of stores and services60+
Total retail floor area355,000 square feet (33,000 m2)[1]
ParkingParking lot

Claim to "first shopping center"Edit

A number of shopping centers have made claims to be the "first" shopping center (depending on the definition used) in the United States, including Roland Park Shopping Center (1907) in Baltimore, Suburban Square and Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri (1923). Roland Park was much smaller than Suburban Square, consisting of one building with six shops. Country Club Plaza, however, was on a larger scale — launching with 14 shops in 1923[8] and growing in the years following over 55 acres – and it launched five years earlier than Suburban Square (1923 vs. 1928).[3] Suburban Square's "first" is as the first suburban shopping center to include a true department store, when Strawbridge & Clothier opened there on May 12, 1930.[4][5][6][9]

According to GuinnessEdit

Early 1970s editions of the Guinness Book of World Records listed Suburban Square as the "first shopping center"[10][11][12] however, later editions of Guinness (since 1979)[13] list Roland Park.[14]


Planning for the center started in 1926, when work by architectural firm of Dreher and Churchman began, and construction commenced in 1927. The original (and rarely used) name was "Hestobeen Square", a combination of three of the developers' names. It was renamed in a 1936 contest as "Suburban Square".[15]

As noted above, the Strawbridge's branch opened in 1930, was among the few in a first wave of suburban branches of big downtown department stores in the U.S., preceded only by Nugents in Uptown St. Louis (1913), and in the 1920s Filene's (Boston area, suburban boutiques), B. H. Dyas Hollywood and Bullocks Wilshire (Los Angeles, full branches), and Marshall Field (Chicago, full branches). Strawbridge's suburban stores (here and in Jenkintown) were the last such suburban branches of downtown department stores until after World War Two.[16][17]

The original Strawbridge's was converted to Macy's in 2006. The Macy's would eventually close in March 2016. In early 2017, it was announced that the former Macy's store would be replaced by health club Life Time Fitness and furniture retailer West Elm by the end of the year.[18]


  1. ^ a b “Suburban Square”, Kimco Realty, accessed July 19, 2020
  2. ^ Gillham, Oliver & MacLean, Alex S., The limitless city: a primer on the urban sprawl debate p.38 (Island Press 2002) (ISBN 978-1559638333)
  3. ^ a b "4 Dec 1930, Page 13 - The Philadelphia Inquirer at". 1930-12-04. Retrieved 2022-06-05.
  4. ^ a b "12 May 1930, Page 7 - The Philadelphia Inquirer at". 1930-05-12. Retrieved 2022-06-05.
  5. ^ a b Spector, Robert. Category killers: the retail revolution and its impact on consumer culture p.87 (2005)(ISBN 978-1578519606)
  6. ^ a b Feinberg, Samuel. What makes shopping centers tick? (Fairchild Publications 1960)
  7. ^ Hoffman, Brooke (July 21, 2011). "Suburban Square: A Constant For Many Decades, Responding to Fashion and Food Trends". Patch.
  8. ^ "Advertisement for Country Club Plaza". Kansas City Star. December 16, 1923. p. 48.
  9. ^ Feinberg, Samuel. What makes shopping centers tick? (Fairchild Publications 1960)
  10. ^ Guinness Book of World Records p.252 (1975)("The world's first shopping center was Suburban Square in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, built in 1928.")
  11. ^ "L.M. Boyd column". Reading Eagle. June 19, 1973. Retrieved February 24, 2010.
  12. ^ "Setting the trend for, not in, stores". The Philadelphia Inquirer. April 25, 1999. Retrieved February 24, 2010.("Suburban Square is possibly the oldest suburban shopping center in the nation. ``We argue about it all the time,...")
  13. ^ Ardmore Real Estate,, Retrieved February 24, 2010("The square's record as the first shopping center in the world accorded by the Guinness Book of World Records proved erroneous after many years. In the 1979 and later issues Guinness has credited a shopping mall near Baltimore with predating it.")
  14. ^ Rybczynski, Witold. City Life p.204 (Scribner 1996) (ISBN 978-0684825298)
  15. ^ Suburban Square, Lower Merion Conservancy, last updated January 22, 2004, Retrieved February 24, 2010
  16. ^ "Nugents' opens store at Vandeventer and Olive: Uptown Shop is Replica on Smaller Scale of Downtown Establishment". St. Louis Globe-Democrat. April 13, 1913. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  17. ^ Longstreth, Richard (1997). City Center to Regional Mall. MIT Press. p. 86. ISBN 0262122006.
  18. ^ Adelman, Jacob (January 12, 2017). "Posh health club to take over Macy's building in Suburban Square as Ardmore evolves". Retrieved May 8, 2017.

External linksEdit