Coming out of the biggest shopping season into the coldest season of the year seems like an appropriate time to visit Southdale Center. It first opened in October 1956 and was the first fully enclosed, multi-level, completely climate-controlled shopping center in the United States.
It is easy to understand why the climate-controlled space had such an impact on days like today when the wind chill temperature is in the double digits below zero! Enclosed shopping malls have become so mainstream since then that it's hard to grasp how revolutionary it was at the time, including being the first to feature competing department stores under one roof.
Its designer, Victor Gruen, had a vision beyond just creating a shopping center. He wanted to create a new suburban town center, providing a meeting place that American suburbs lacked. His vision was that people would come together to shop and stay to talk, drink coffee and socialize…sounds like the quest we are still pursuing today!
In fact, his initial plans included a whole development with apartment buildings, houses, schools, a medical center, a park and a lake. Over the years development in the area around Southdale has brought it closer to his original vision…even becoming more pedestrian friendly with the new Edina Promenade.
Southdale has continued to re-invent itself over the last 50 years, but original towering twin sculptures still remain…you can see them to the right of the escalators in the right photo above, and behind the escalators/walkway in the vintage 1956 Life magazine photo below by Grey Villet.
There is a variety of housing styles and prices in the area around Southdale, which is located on the east edge of Edina bordering Richfield, MN. Click here to see properties currently for sale. (Please be patient while the link searches for the most current listings…pass your cursor over the dots on the map for property information.)