When Viennese architect Victor Gruen designed Minneapolis’s Southdale Center as the first indoor shopping mall in 1956, his idea was to recreate the pedestrian-oriented town center for the centerless, auto-dominated suburbs then being built. He never suspected these retail mega-generators of auto-sprawl would replace the town centers he was trying to celebrate.In 1961, Gruen took the concept to New Jersey designing the Cherry Hill Mall for the South Jersey suburbs of Philadelphia. One year later, the famed retail center inspired hosting Delaware Township to change its name to Cherry Hill.
ON THE MALL AT CHERRY HILL.Gruen showcased the Cherry Hill Mall’s year-round climate control by creating tropical gardens with little bridges crossing faux brooks. As a child, I ran through this mall-jungle without a coat in January thinking the future was now. Bamberger’s anchored the center from which extended a concourse of shops called the Delaware Mall.