Eswin and Endicott Streets 
Greenhills, Ohio

Greenbelt, Maryland was the federal government's first operational green suburb. GREENBELT CENTER, the city's commercial and administrative core, opened in December 1937. 

GREENHILLS CENTER, the hub of Greater Cincinnati's Greenhills planned city, commenced operation in July 1938. GREENDALE CENTER, at the heart of Greater Milwaukee's Greendale, was dedicated in September of the same year.  

Greenhills was built on a 6,800 acre site, lying 12 miles north of Cincinnati's Fountain Square, in an unincorporated section of Hamilton County known as Springfield Township. A 7.2 acre plot, in the middle of the town site, was developed as GREENHILLS CENTER. 

Originally envisaged as a U-shaped complex of approximately 70,000 square feet, it was to be anchored by a large movie theater. The core of the shopping hub consisted of 2-levels, with small sections having 3. Its major innovation was a huge rear parking lot that accessed inward-facing basement-level businesses. The main shopping concourse of outward-facing stores was accessed from an upper level parking area. 

GREENHILLS CENTER is often cited as Ohio's first suburban-style shopping center. The Co-op Food Store, its first operational tenant, opened July 11, 1938. The Co-op Food Store was soon joined by a variety store, valet shop, barber shop, drug store, beauty shop, food storage meat locker facility and co-op gas station. These were in business by May 1939. 

As a result of a 1936 court ruling, America's New Deal green suburbs were deemed unconstitutional. Federal funding dried up, requiring that various concessions be made. At Greenhills, this meant that only half of the prospective shopping center would be built as a first phase. The movie theater would be delayed indefinitely.

The federally owned city, its apartment blocks and GREENHILLS CENTER, were sold on the open market between 1950 and 1954. Soon after the shopping hub changed hands, construction of center and north store blocks got underway. These would complete the shopping complex as it had originally been proposed in 1936. 

A center structure was built in area originally plotted for a movie theater. This 2-level building housed an I.G.A. supermarket on its upper floor and Haynay's Lanes bowling alley in the basement. These were open for business by 1953. 

The first section of a north store block was also completed in 1953. The Eswin Building, at the north end of the complex, was dedicated in 1960; thus completing GREENHILLS CENTER.

Stores and services during the mid-20th century included the aforementioned I.G.A., plus Reder & Boerger Appliance, Coin-Op Laundry & Dry Cleaning, Burnside Jewelry, Greenhills Shoe Repair, Greenhills Furniture, Co-Op Drugs, Greenhills Bakery, Green Hills Barber Shop and Gil's Variety Store. 

A freestanding Albers supermarket, adjacent to the north end of GREENHILLS CENTER, was in business by 1964. Over the ensuing years, smaller retail buildings were added to the core shopping center. At its height, the complex housed 60 stores and services. By the mid-1970s, GREENHILLS CENTER was in a state of decline, with store spaces often sitting vacant. 

An exterior renovation was done in the mid-1990s, when new facades were installed on upper level storefronts. Past and present tenants include Dollar General, AmeriStop Food Mart, Green Hills Barber Shop, Green Hills-Hamilton County Branch Library, The Creamy Whip ice cream shop and Village Troubadour coffee shop.

The complex was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in January 1989. It, and the Village of Greenhills, were designated as a National Historic Landmark in January 2017.


Library of Congress /Prints and Photographs Online Catalog /
"Opening to the Possibilities" / "A Stroll Down Memory Lane: Who Changed Things?"
"Greenhills (Images of America)" / Debbie Mills and Margo Warminski / Greenhills Historical Society / 2013
"The Planning Theory of Greenhills" / Frederick E. Lutt / University of Cincinnati term paper / 2005