August 24, 1916 - Page 8
The buildings that had been Snellenburg's factory and warehouse in Philly are now on the National Register of Historic Places but the flagship store building had since been torn down. Snellenburg's suburban locations were sold to Lit Brothers, yet another Philly department store which was founded a little later in 1893 and closed in 1977.
May 14, 1896
Also noteworthy is Wanamaker's (left), the very first department store in Philadelphia and one of the earliest in the United States. It originally opened as a men's clothing store in 1876 in time for Philadelphia's Centennial Exposition, the first world fair in America. However, in 1877, it was expanded to include additional departments, making it the first true "modern-day" department store in Philadelphia and possibly America, though the term "department store" did not come into use until the mid-1880's. Wanamaker's ambition was to create a "Grand Depot" similar to London's Royal Exchange. It was eventually taken over by Hecht's, now Macy's, in 1995. The building was the former Pennsylvania Railroad Station and is still in use today as Macy's so if you'd like to see a little piece of history, just go for a bit of shopping!
Department stores fascinate me from a historical point of view, since many of those still in business today were founded in the mid to late 19th century. It's a shame to see such long running businesses close down.
For more information on the history of department stores, particularly in Philadelphia, check out this excellent and much more detailed article from Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia. I mostly just wanted to share these clippings, the second of which is particularly interesting because of how large and detailed it is.
It's interesting to note that the BBC are currently running a historical drama called "The Paradise", which is centered on a fictional early department store in northern England, in an undisclosed fictional town, though it's filmed at Lambton Castle. For those interested in the development of the department store, this is definitely a fun show to watch, though I don't know if it's being aired in the US yet.