9th and Market streets
Philadelphia, PA 19107
In the late 1950s, the City Planning Commission proposed the construction of a new retail and office complex east of City Hall over a rail tunnel connecting the Pennsylvania and Reading railroad lines. In 1964 the city and business community adopted a plan for a six-block-long skylit pedestrian mall, one level below the street, with retail shops connecting existing department stores at either end.
This ambitious proposal was eventually carried out by the city and the Rouse Company, one of the most innovative retail developers in the country. It was one of the first downtown enclosed shopping malls in an American city. A dramatic skylit pedestrian mall connected four levels of retail stores. The entrance at 9th Street has a stepped, glass-covered atrium leading to the multilevel mall. Fountains, special displays and glass-enclosed elevators enliven the public areas. The second phase of the mall opened in 1983 and included a new department store, a major office building and a new underground rail station with a colorful wall mural designed by architect David Beck. The total complex, running from 8th to 11th streets, combines the excitement of the city with the successful marketing techniques of suburban shopping centers.