Woolworth’s, the five-and-dime chain that dominated American downtowns for more than a century, barely had two nickels to rub together by 1997, when it finally went bust.

Woolworth's building

The vanishing of the brand in America was a stunning fall for a chain that was once so profitable that founder F.W. Woolworth built the world’s tallest skyscraper for his company in lower Manhattan in 1913. Woolworth is, to this day, depicted in a lobby sculpture counting the nickels that built his empire.  The architectural ghosts of Mr. Woolworth’s chain still haunt many a street corner. However, there is a place in America where you can still walk into a Woolworth’s building with all of its original signage and order a burger and shake at a fully functioning, original Woolworth’s luncheonette, complete with chrome counter and red vinyl seating.

Woolworth's facade

There’s more! To read the rest of this article, members are invited to log in. Not a member? We invite you to join. This article originally appeared in the SCA Road Notes, Winter 2021, Vol. 29, No. 4. SCA Road Notes is a semi-annual publication and a member benefit of the Society for Commercial Archeology.

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