Sometimes there’s so much to say about a particular mall, that it’s hard to know where to begin, and that’s certainly the case with New Jersey’s Cherry Hill Mall, a classic Victor Gruen-designed mall in the Jersey suburbs of Philadelphia. It’s one of my favorites, and one of the truly classic vintage malls on the northeast seaboard. Cherry Hill’s past has been documented somewhat better than most other malls–if only the same were true of most malls that were this interesting!
The Cherry Hill Mall is owned by the Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT), and opened in 1961 as one of the very first major indoor, climate-controlled shopping malls on the east coast of the United States. With nearly 1.3 million square feet of space, the mall is one of the largest malls in the state of New Jersey, and currently features JCPenney and Macy’s as anchors; The vacant (and recently-demolished) Strawbridge’s space will be replaced by a Nordstrom in 2009 as part of a redevelopment that will also add 120,000 square feet of in-line space and dramatically reconfigure the center of the mall while adding a “Bistro Row” along route 38, containing a variety of new restaurants. Despite the mall’s gargantuan size, it operates somewhat harmoniously with the Moorestown Mall, 3 miles to the east, which opened only two years after Cherry Hill.
The Cherry Hill Mall is the largest, most dominant mall in the New Jersey suburbs of Philadelphia, and even predates the town of Cherry Hill itself, which was carved from the Delaware Township and named for the mall itself.
Because the mall dates from the era in which enclosed malls were grandiose showplaces, and because Cherry Hill was designed by Victor Gruen, the most famous of mall architects, there is a better collection of historical material available about it than about most of its breathren. In particular, there is a rather famous collection of postcards that were issued not long after the mall opened, that Keith Milford has collected over at his site, MallsofAmerica. Here are links to the various Cherry Hill-related shots, all of which are worth visiting:
- Market Court
- Cherry Court
- Kresge’s and Mall Aviary
- Woolworths “Cherry Hill Grill” (My Favorite)
- Woolworths and Exterior Facade
- Historic Aerial View
- Main corridor view
- Another main corridor view
- Bamberger’s (Current Macy’s)
- Fountain in Cherry Court
The layout of Cherry Hill Mall is also fairly unorthodox, and it appears that it was possibly built out at different times. I’ve attempted to order the following pictures (all taken November 2006, before the redevelopment began) in a way that makes some logical sense:
The Macys – Strawbridge’s wing:
This long, one level wing with wide corridors and excessive greenery also contains the Woolworths “Cherry Hill Grill,” the space of which is still in operation today as the “Bistro at Cherry Hill:”
This large center court is extremely impressive in its sheer magnitude. Due to the crowds and thick shrubbery, it was tough to try and find a place to get a great shot, so all of these really only suggest the enormity of the room, which is probably close to 40 or 50 feet tall. There are even a set of escalators that used to go straight into the second level of the Strawbridge’s store.
Just north of Cherry Court, the food court has its own wing that is somewhat different in decor from the remainder of the mall.
Just past the food court, the mall splits into two levels, with the first floor half a level down from the main mall, and the second level half a level up from the main level. This wing seems somewhat more modern inside and out (possibly built in the 1980s?), and is currently the only portion of the mall that seems troubled, with a fair share of low-rent tenants and vacancies. The mall’s distinctive office tower is also located near this wing, just outside of the mall where the “split” occurs.
And, as an added bonus, note this TJMaxx located behind the mall, in what is clearly a former JM Fields store:
UPDATE 8/12/2007: Jonah of Two Way Roads submitted the following photos, all taken in early summer 2007, which show the progress of construction at the Cherry Hill Mall (or, in some cases, just new angles on the same old mall). There are some nice shots of the former Strawbridge’s building, too, and that space has since been demolished to make way for a new Nordstrom and a two-level expansion of the mall. Thanks Jonah! Check them out: