Thursday, March 10, 2011

10 March 1957 “The American Strip Mall and Tell Us About Your Area”

57stripmall This is a wonderful shot of these two ladies ready to shop at their local strip mall in New York really describes the changing landscape here in 1950’s America. The main streets, though still rather busy, are now merely an accompaniment to the strip mall.

stripmall With the automobile’s growth, the increase of roads and the growth of the suburb, America post WWII radically changed. The quick hop down town on a bike or the bus to the local market was being replaced with “Cars for everyone”. A growing middle class, increased wages and the chance for anyone to really own a car now.teenwithjalopy Consider the 1950’s teenager who has the ‘old’ cars of the 20’s as his first car. His parent’s generation didn’t have this in the same number and certainly not his grandparents.

50sdowntown Though the downtown was still the place to be and many shops existed there, the spreading out of families into ever increasing suburbs naturally lead to the strip mall. It was the solution to the increasing congestion of traffic in downtowns. By placing large parking spaces in front, more shoppers could easily park and shop.

1936trolleylines Even much used tram lines were paved over to make more room for cars. Therefore, those who did not have them virtually lost their forms of public transportation, except the buses. They were recently discovered by digging utility workers. uncoveredtrolleylines

Now, I am not certain if this is only a particular American situation. I know we simply had the money and the land post WWII that our allies did not. And we also have no real sense of history as far as preserving historical buildings that Europe enjoys.

schuylermansionFor example, this mansion in Schenectady NY, the Schuyler-Standford Mansion built in the 1760’s, is being torn down to make room for a new strip mall.schylermansion2

I am very curious for any of my international followers to chime in here: What country do you live in and do you have strip malls, did they evolve and how did they affect your downtowns and public transportation.

Now for my American readers: How lively are the strip malls in your area of the USA and are they easy to get to only by car or are there bus services as well. How is your downtown area, if you still have one?

I really am curious to know and I think it will be fun to find out, don’t you?

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