Shopping Centers

From Ohio History Central
Columbus City Center.jpg
Interior view of the lower level of the Columbus City Center shopping mall in downtown, Columbus, Ohio, ca. 1990.

Following World War II, increased wealth, improvements in transportation, the development of interstates during the 1950s, and the increasing accessibility of cars, all spurred the movement of people from cities to suburbs. Americans wanted their own homes with green grass. They were increasingly unsatisfied with apartment living, paying their wages to live in someone else's building.

As Americans moved from the cities to suburbs, business owners began to develop new retail establishments to attract suburbanites. These establishments were known as shopping centers. Numerous businesses opened their doors in a single location, usually in the exact same building or several interconnected buildings. These shopping centers usually had a wide variety of stores, including ones that sold groceries, clothing, greeting cards, and numerous other items. Banks and restaurants also commonly existed in these shopping centers. The shopping centers provided their customers with a single location to do all of their shopping, greatly enhancing the shoppers' convenience. These shopping centers quickly drew customers away from more traditional stores, as customers wanted to travel to only a single location to do all of their shopping.

Shopping malls quickly appeared in Ohio. The Town and Country Shopping Center, which opened in 1949 in Columbus, might have been the first modern one in the nation, although several other centers across the country, including Shaker Square in Shaker Heights, Ohio, claim to have been opened more than twenty years earlier. By the 1950s, each of Ohio's major cities had one or more shopping centers, including Cincinnati, which had both Kenwood Plaza and Swifton Commons open in 1956. Shopping centers still exist at the start of the twenty-first century, although malls, including the Severance Town Center, possibly Ohio's first indoor mall, began to replace shopping centers during the second half of the 1900s.

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