Welcome to the SHOPPING MALL MUSEUM website...a companion to the MALL HALL OF FAME, also on BLOGGER. As you may be aware, the MALL HALL OF FAME is time-specific in focus, covering malls opened, in the 50 States, between 1946 and 1979.

The SHOPPING MALL MUSEUM has a much broader focus. Retail complexes from the 20th and 21st centuries are on are those from Canada, Europe, the United Kingdom, Asia, Latin America, Africa and Australia.

As you might also notice, local vernacular and spellings are used where possible. However, everything here will be indicated in standard (Imperial) square footage and / or mileage figures. 
Non-original photos and images used on this site
are given source credit,
with links often provided to the original websites.
Hopefully, this will be sufficient to cover their usage.

This is a completely non-commercial endeavor.
If the use of any photo or graphic is not desired
-and you are the owner-
Please post a comment. I will delete it or them.

Our first SMM exhibit is an exploration of America's New Deal-era Greenbelt Towns, with special emphasis on their innovative central city shopping facilities. These "Commercial Centers" were integral in the development of the American shopping mall, as we came to know it. By 1982, the peak year for mall-type complexes in the United States, there were over 2,500. These had been developed, in cities large and small, from coast-to-coast and border-to-border. 

The Greenbelt Towns movement, set in motion by the Roosevelt administration, was the brainchild of Rexford Guy Tugwell, an economist and member of FDR's "Brain Trust" of advisors. Tugwell was instrumental in the creation of the Resettlement Administration, in April 1935. This entity would move struggling urban and rural families into new "low income" planned communities.

All units in the Resettlement Administration's green suburbs were originally rentals. Most shopping center businesses were co-operatives, which were owned and operated by citizens. 

In order for his family to be eligible for a home in one of America's up-and-coming green communities, a father would have to earn between $1,440 and $2,200 annually. Wives were not allowed to work. Moreover, minorities were excluded. 

Green suburbs were a political football from the moment that ground was broken...or even before. Conservatives derided them as a socialist -or even communist- endeavor. The program was ruled unconstitutional by a court case decided in May 1936. 
Rex Tugwell resigned his position as RA head in December 1936. The Resettlement Administration was absorbed into the Department of Agriculture in January 1937. A new bureau was formed, the Farm Security Administration.

Although deemed unconstitutional, three green communities were completed. They would be owned and operated by the federal government until the passage of a Congressional bill in 1949, which made provisions for all three cities to be sold to private enterprise. In a majority of cases, tenants ended up buying residential units that they had been renting.

America's Greenbelt Towns came about as an extrapolation of urban planning concepts put forward by Great Britain's Sir Ebenezer Howard. In his book "To-Morrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform" (1898), the bucolic utopian "Garden City" was envisaged.
Graphic from "Greenbelt Towns" brochure / US Government Printing Office / 1936

According to Howard, people should be residing in communities that combined the best of town and country life. Green suburbs, surrounded by a permanent belt of forested land, would eschew many of the pitfalls of city life, such as poverty, overcrowding, low wages, inadequate sanitation, pollution and disease. In many ways, these trend-setting communities espoused the tenets of today's "New Urbanism" movement. 
Photo from Wikipedia / "Marnanel"

Letchworth, the first of Ebenezer Howard's Garden Cities, was started -in Hertfordshire County, Great Britain- in 1903. Across the pond, Radburn, New Jersey, America's prototype garden suburb, broke ground in 1929. Seen above is the Radburn Plaza Building; commercial center of the Bergen County planned city.
Photo from Library of Congress / Carl Mydans

Under the New Deal of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the federal government got involved in urban planning. 100 newly-built green suburbs were originally envisaged. The competition was narrowed to twenty-five urban areas and, then, to just four. The final selections were Greenbelt, Maryland {outside Washington, DC}, Greenhills, Ohio {outside Cincinnati}, Greendale, Wisconsin {outside Milwaukee} and Greenbrook, New Jersey {outside New York City}. In mid-1936, the Greenbrook plan was dropped.

Rexford G. Tugwell, who was instrumental in the creation of America's green suburbs. Browbeaten by conservative detractors, he resigned from his federal post in late 1936.
Photo from Wikipedia 

A photo-op groundbreaking was held in June 1935 at the Greenbelt, Maryland site. Land clearing was soon underway, with actual construction commencing in October of the same year.
Photo from Library of Congress / Elmer Johnson

The Regional Plan for the Greenbelt project. The city would occupy a 3,400-acre site in Maryland's Prince George's County. There would be 885 units, housing over 3,000 residents.
Graphic from Library of Congress / 1936

The Regional Plan for Greenhills envisaged a community in Ohio's Hamilton County. It would be comprised of 6,800 acres, with 676 housing units. The population of the fully-occupied city was 2,600.
Graphic from Library of Congress / 1936

Greendale's Regional Plan foresaw a Milwaukee County community sited on 3,400 acres and featuring 572 residential units. When finished, the garden suburb boasted a population of 2,800.
Graphic from Library of Congress / 1936

Each of the three green suburbs were designed and built by an individual staff of city planners, architects and engineers. 

The architects of the Greenhills project study a wall-sized plan of their city-to-be.
Photo from Library of Congress / Theodor Jung

In this Greenhills image, we see that heavy equipment grading is in progress.
Photo from Library of Congress / Theodor Jung