Gimbel Brothers, Philadelphia, Pensylvania


Gimbels Original buildings on Market Street at 8th Street.


Gimbels 1925 Chestnut Street Building, on the corner of
8th and Chestnut; the original Market Street is to the left.


Read Michael Lisicky's excellent
book about Gimbels


Gimbel Brothers (1894)
Market Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

WAlnut 2-9000


CENTER CITY STORE DIRECTORY

Subway Level
Gimbels Subway Store

Street Floor-Market
Fine Jewelry • Diamond and Watch Center • Silver • Clocks • Costume Jewelry • Real Thing Jewelry • Handbags • Gloves • Leather Accessories • Famous Fashion Hosiery • Slipper Bar • Raintique • Umbrellas • Accessories • Neckwear • Handkerchiefs • Blouses • Sweaters • Sportswear One • Juniors One • Millinery • Hair Accessories • Street Floor Lingerie • Shoe Salon • Casual Shoes • Notions • Candy Center • Gimbel's Book Store • Stationery
Men's Store Men's Furnishings • Men's Accessories • Men's Sportswear • Men's Sport Shirts • New Attitudes

Street Floor-Chestnut
Gift Shop • Pure Foods • Candy Center • Bakery • Smoke Shop

Second Floor-Market
Towels • Sheets • Blankets • Bedspreads • Linens • Bath Shop • Sewing Machines • Fabrics • Cameras • Sporting Goods
Men's Store Men's Clothing • Men's Outerweat • Men's Shoes • Men's Hats

Second Floor-Chestnut
Lingerie • Daywear • Foundations • Sleepwear • Loungewear • Daytime Dresses • Uniforms • Maternity • House and Town Dress Shop

Third Floor-Market
Young World Infants' Shop • Infants' Furniture • Tot's Shop • Toddlers' Shop • Girls' Shop • Girls' Underwear • Teens' Shop • Young Deb Accessories • Boys' Shop • Children's Shoe Salon

Third Floor-Chestnut
Spectator Sportswear • Misses' Blouses • Misses' Sweaters • Active Sportswear • Gimbels-by-the-Sea • Trend Sportswear • Contemporary Sportswear • Women's World • Misses' Dresses • Misses' Coats • Women's Coats • Dress Collection • Pace Setters • Self Expression • Variations on a Theme • Society Hill • Coat Salon • Fur Salon • Bridal Salon • Millinery Salon • Silver Salon for Beauty
Junior World Junior Dress Shop • Junior Sportswear • Junior Coats

Fourth Floor-Market
Modern Housewares • Small Electrics • Personal Care • Floor Care • Major Appliances • Hardware • Garden Shop • Color Bar • Mirrors • Pictures • Picture Framing • Lamps • Apartment/Department • China • Pottery • Glassware •

Fourth Floor-Chestnut

Fifth Floor-Market
Curtains • Draperies • Venetian Blinds • Upholstery Fabrics • Sun Colony • Summer Rugs • Broadloom Carpeting • Oriental Rugs • Home Cleaning Center • Select-at-Home Service

Fifth Floor-Chestnut
Uncle Wip's Toyland • Art Supplies

Sixth Floor-Market
Bedroom Furniture • Slumber Shop • Scientific Sleep Shop • Dining Room Furniture • Modern Furniture • Clubwomen's Center

Sixth Floor-Chestnut
Living Room Furniture • Occasional Furniture Corner • Upholstered Furniture • Maple Furniture • Interior Decorating Studio • Gimbels Home Planning Center • Travel • Customer Lounge • The Gimbel Auditorium

Seventh Floor-Chestnut

Seventh Floor-Market
Television Headquarters, USA • Music Center • The Gimbel Restaurant


BRANCH STORES

Cheltenham Shopping Center (1955)
Cheltenham & Ogontz Avenue
250,000 sq. ft.





Upper Darby (1957)
69th & Walnut Street
210,000 sq. ft.






Northeast (1958)
Bustleton and Cottman Avenues
240,000 sq. ft.
The Butter Bowl






Moorestown Mall (1963)
Camden, NJ
203,000 sq. ft.










King of Prussia (1966)
Plaza at King of Prussia
172,000 sq. ft.








Harrisburg East Mall (1969)









Lancaster (1970)
Park City Mall
194,000 sq. ft.

Oxford Valley Mall (1973)
Langhorne
172,000 sq. ft.




Granite Run (1974)
Media

44 comments:

  1. Of all the vintage chains you've featured, this is the only one that I've been to the actual stores, though not as Gimbels. Moorestown is now a Boscov's, King of Prussia is a JCPenney, and Harrisburg East is a Macy's. All look remarkably like their renderings and apparently still do good business.

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  2. In 1977 Gimbels moved their Center City store into a new building as part of the Gallery at Market East. I believe it was across the street from the original store. Unfortunately the new store was pretty boring. Wish I'd seen the original location. Somewhere I still have my Gimbels credit card

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  3. My Aunt worked for Gimbels from the 1940's thru her retirement in 1978, having come to Gimbels from Lit Brothers as a "Sales Girl" and working her way up to Buyer for "Ladies Better Dresses". (Quotations are all her words). She was not happy with the move to the Gallery store as she knew that this was the start of the demise of the company.

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  4. I've shopped at both the Gimbels at Oxford Valley Mall, and at Cottman & Bustelton Avenues (Gimbels Great Northeast), when they were both Gimbels, and now as Sears

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  5. I remember shopping at Gimbels Cheltenham and Gimbels Market East. The Cheltenham store at Cheltnham Square anchored one end and Acme Supermarket on the other and a Kresge was in the middle of the plaza. I remember their "one day wild" sales. I miss this store along with Strawbridges and Wanamakers.

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  6. I wonder what the store space and directory looked like when Gimbels was in the Gallery? The building is still there--now occupied by Kmart.

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  7. I wrote down a directory for Gimbels in the Gallery at Market East, but I prefer to focus on the original, "real" Gimbels. In my opinion, the move was ill-advised. Gimbels was an icon in its original location, and the fact that the store was outlived by its two of its competitors who did not forsake their original locations, indicates as much. The Market East location was no more successful for Stern's, and I won't comment about the Kmart that's there now.

    Market Street in this area is really forlorn, a far cry from all of the optimism at the time that Market East opened. The site where Santa Claus annually climbed a fire ladder is, after almost 35 years, still vacant, though the Chestnut Street building remains. That street is also downmarket, even though it once housed Saks Fifth Avenue and the proud Benjamin Franklin Hotel.

    BAK

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  8. I worked at Gimbel's during the 70's both in the original store and the new one across the street. There was no way that old store could have remained. It was completely outmoded, grossly oversized and outrageously expensive to operate at almost 1,000,000 square feet. Customers no longer were interested in going to the upper floors of a department store for such items as house paint or pianos. The other three divisions of Gimbel's - in Pittsburg, Milwaukee and New York City were also struggling. New management came to Philadelphia to assess the challenges and to make necessary changes. Within ten years all four divisions were gone, along with hundreds of other department stores across the country. Moving out of the "old" Gimbel's was absolutely the proper thing to do, however.
    D.S.M.

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  9. Hi.
    I worked at the main store from 1975-1981. I think I knew Acshowtp Aunt! I was a buyers' clerical at Gimbels from 1975-1977 working for better sportswear until I became their youngest executive trainee (I was 21). On slow days you could get some of the older buyers to talk about the good ol'days when their department was actual their business and they rented the space from Gimbels. I miss those days... best job I ever had.

    Even though I loved the old building, it was a firetrap. Most of the square footage was hidden from the public behind fake walls. At times there were tons of old stock just sitting behind the walls waiting for disposal.

    The oddest thing I remember of the old building is that the stalls in the ladies room were set up as private wash rooms which included a comfortable bench and a sink.... oh, wait... maybe that was the old Strawbridge building... I worked there too before 1974.

    Sandy

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  10. My dad worked as an electrician at Gimbel's in Philadelphia. He was there in the '60s and '70s. I remember that at Christmas time, the women in the ladies sports ware department would help pick out gifts for my mom. My family made special trips to the city on "20%" day for employees. I bought my wedding dress there in 1975. Visiting my dad at work was fun...especially when he got caled to fix a broken wooden elevator and I was on it!

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  11. Bruce,
    You're bringing up more memories. My first "adult" job was in Gimbel's downtown. I worked in "notions" which included all sorsts of litle gadgets, sewing items, personal care, etc. Gimbel's hosted the Thanksgiving Parade. Employees were encouraged to participate and offered a $5 gift certificate for doing so! I remember going to the floors above the selling floors and it was like a museum. All of the displays from previous years were stored there and it seemed they never dispossed of anything. Beutiful items unfortunatly lost upon their move to the incredibly boring and sterile store across the street. Gimbel's had wooden escalators in both of the original Market St buildings.....Love your site!! Martinscq@yahoo.com

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  12. My husband and I met working at Gimbel's NE, 1977-1983. He in Budget Men's while attending College; I was in the 'concession' Candy Department, Price Candy (formerly Charlmont, which had a following from Lit Brothers). Participated in the Thanksgiving Day Parade with our friends. Lots of good memories. My aunt worked in the Children's Department in the Upper Darby store. She was from France and had an accent that appealed to the shoppers!

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  13. I remember the shaky wooden escalators in the Market Street side of the store and the ramps connecting the various parts of each floor. Apparently whenever an expansion took place Gimbals purchased a neighbouring building, installed an archways and ramps to account for the difference in floor levels. It could be very disorienting ! Lit's down town was the same.

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  14. My Nan worked at Gimbel's in Philadelphia in the 1930's. She was a Professional Gift Wrapper. She talked about standing for very long hours in high heels. She said that she loved her job there, though. Nan taught me how to make some very creative bows! At Christmas, I would take take my gifts to her house and we would wrap our presents together. She would tell me stories about working at Gimbel's.
    Michelle Cook

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  15. I worked in the old Gimbel's Chestnut Street building 20 something years ago on the 7th Floor. It looked so impressive on the outside but the office conversion was quite haphazardly done. It was quite a difference from being there as a young kid.

    Also, which of the anchor stores at Granite Run was the Gimbel's site?

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  16. My Aunt had worked here for over 40 yrs, I have employees books that date back to the yearly 20's with pictures and awards. Also pictures of the award dinners

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  17. The Boscov's at Granite Run Mall was the Gimbels site.

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  18. I worked in the retail audit department while in high school in 1972 & 73. It was a great job and I loved going into that building!

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  19. In the 70s the main Philly Gimbels also had a coins (numismatic) department on the Street Floor on Market, separate from all the jewelry depts. listed at the top of the page. It was worked by a guy named Joe. I was a kid starting a collection and Joe was really nice and helpful to me. They might've sold stamps too, I can't remember, I wasn't into philately. Of course, that and the other neat stuff there didn't make the move over to The Gallery in 1977.

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  20. (This is in response to a posting on the Gimbels New York page about discovering a 45 rpm record entitled "The Gimbel Song - "Walk Right In"")

    I remember that jingle and used to own the 45 too! There were 3 different versions of the song on that record (it was one-sided, no "B" side. That jingle was used in radio advertisements for Gimbels Philadelphia (not New York) during the late 1960s. My grandmother worked in the Philadelphia flagship (retired in ~1973) and they gave copies of the record to all employees. I may even still have it in a box at my mother's home.

    Actually, this may help place the year: the song had a lyric "Oh so nice, Six great stores, Gimbels is the place to shop.." So when did Gimbels Philadelphia have 6 stores, and not 7? Between 1966 and 1969....

    Would love someone to digitize that song!

    I also remember "The Philadelphia Fountain" on the main floor of the old store, and "The Gimbel Restaurant" upstairs (they had "The Gimbel Restaurant" in Moorestown, too when it first opened").

    Lastly - one branch is missing here: Echelon Mall in New Jersey. Gimbels moved in after the original tenant Lit Brothers folded (Strawbridge and Clothier was the other original anchor). Gimbels did nothing to the interior, leaving it almost exactly as Lits had set it up (it was a practically brand-new store).

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  21. My Dad, a firefighter in Philadephia, was the firefighter who drove Ladder 23. The Hook and Ladder was utilized for the Gimbel's Thanksgiving Day parade every year so that Santa Claus could climbed up the Ladder to the 3rd floor of Gimble's to "kick off" the holiday shopping season. Every year I sat on that apparatus to see Santa make his climb to Gimbel's 3rd floor where the toy department was located. The firefighter who drive Ladder 23 located in Chinatown at 10th and Cherry was Joe McSloy. Joe was also the brother of Bernard McSloy who lost his life in the Barson's fire in Northeast Philadelphia where the floor collapsed and demised several firefighters on May 16, 1976.

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  22. Does anyone remember if it was Gimbels which had a monarail at Christmas time in the 60's and early 70's? My mother use to take us into Phila as a special treat at that time of year.

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  23. The monorail was actually at the John Wanamaker store; where Macys is currently located on 13th and Market. The Please Touch Museum salvaged the monorail and it's now part of an exhibit at the museum's current home in Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park.

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  24. I just discovered this site and am having fun exploring it. My grandfather was a Philadelphia fireman, and my dad was an ornamental plasterer who worked in many of the buildings in Philadelphia. He and others helped create Christmas decorations. I believe he made a huge elephant for the display in 1948, 1949, or 1950. I don't have any photos and am not sure he did this for Gimbels or one of the other big department stores. But if anyone has information about that, I'd love to hear about it.

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  25. Which branch locations were taken over by Sterns? I think that they did not buy all of the Gimbels stores. What happened to the branches that Sterns did not purchase?

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  26. Which branch locations were taken over by Sterns in the late 1980? Also, what happened to the branches that Sterns did not purchase? Just wondering.....

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  27. To answer the question about the Gimbels-Philly locations that Stern's took over, see my post on the Stern Brother's exhibit. It was not a high point in retail history.
    Ken

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  28. I worked in Gimbels from 1957 till July 1958, when I joined the army. I was in high school at the time, and loved the part time job. I worked in the "cash office" on the 7th floor. Had a wonderful manager, and assistant manager, and worked with two great men that were in their 30's at the time. I was 16 and 17 years old when I worked there. I collected the monies throughout the store, sorted it, and wrapped it. all of which was done on machines. I have fond memories of the store, and the OJ accros the street where I would buy lunch when I worked on Saturdays.

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  29. I work at the Gimbels warehouse in Queens New York. Looking for a good Douglas whom I work with. It was great summer job.
    Kurt Washington

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  30. My great grandmother worked as a buyer and sales rep for Gimbels in the 1930's. Thank you for all the info on your site

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  31. I would love to find out if my great Nana's picture is in any of the old employees books or award dinners pictures. My mother was raised by her and said she was ALWAYS very well dressed, quite the business woman and did VERY well at Gimbels.

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  32. My first job out of college was with Gimbels. I was there from'75-80'I still have my 5 year pin and will never sell it. I have nothing but fond memories of the people I met along the way. I spent my entire 5 years in the budget store. I helped with the new downtown opening and I felt that we lost a lot of the downtown flavor that the old store had.

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  33. Thanks for your comments. That Gimbels downtown store lasted in its original location for roughly 83 years, contrasted with the fact that the new one barely squeezed out a decade supports your last statement. It is too bad that the building was prematurely demolished (except for the 1920s portion on Chestnut Street)because it was a historic part of the city's fabric, and the site has been a parking lot ever since.

    Bruce

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  34. They had this candy I have been hunting for for years. I think they were called Persian mints or something like that. My aunt bought them for me in the 60's . The Pittsbugh store. They were pale green creamy meltaways . If anyone knows what they were or if you know who may have them please contact me! Thank you.

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  35. My fiance insists there was a log cabin outside of the Gimbel's on Cottman Ave.... is this true? Are there any photos of it?

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  36. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  37. My wife went to college in the Philly area in the 70's so we were in & out of all the old Philadelphia department stores every time we went downtown. I went to work at Gimbels NY in '76 right out of college, rose to Buyer in the Budget Store and bailed out in '83 shortly before the owner BATUS pulled the plug.

    After BAT bought Gimbels from the family back in '73 or so they did a detailed analysis of all 4 Gimbels' "flagship" stores. 3 of the 4 they determined could be renovated & modernized but the old Philly Market Street location was just too far gone. It was also way too big (over 1 million SF of selling space at its height) for the Philadelphia market based on sales/sf and the cost just to fix it up so it could be renovated would have been astronomical. I agree the new Market East store was/is a typical "sterile" retail space with little or no character compared to the old store.

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  38. I have a question, I collect old pins, and I just recently acquired a small pin , on the front of it has Gimbels East , rectangular shape , then on either side they look like leaves "almost military in style". on the back looks like the lettering cTo, another symbol which I cannot tell what it stands for, underneath' STERLING'. could you please let me know if this was like a crest pin for an employee? and around what year? my grandmother use to take me and my brother to Gimbels every weekend , we could pick out one toy , and of course got our pictures taken w/Santa. I miss those days sooo much. Everyone was allways so nice, even when we would play in the ladies garment section! The Sales lady caught me one time w/a bra over my head, of course my grandmother and the Sales Lady tried not laughing in front of me and my brother. Better days and different 'era'!!

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  39. Hello!
    "Gimbels East" could refer to either the new store Gimbels built on the upper East Side of New York in 1972, or the combined New York and Philadelphia divisions of Gimbels from just before the store closed in 1986. Without seeing the pin, I can't say what it refers to - I might think it was a giveaway for kids also. Perhaps a former Gimbels employee who likes this site might comment on it.
    -Bruce

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  40. I recently inherited 2 small framed oil paintings. Portraits of gentlemen smoking pipes. The only identifying marks that I could find are on the back of each "Gimbel Brothers Picture Department"..numbered 19322. Anyone have any background info on the "Picture Department? These paintings are 85-100 years old I believe. Thanks

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  41. Does anyone know if at the ottoman ave location if there was a log cabin at the ottoman ave entrance?

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  42. To the pin collector on 4 Apr 2014: As to what the marks on the sterling pin mean, that cTo is the maker's mark, O.C. Tanner of Salt Lake City, still in business today. That other mark will be for the year. Google "sterling silver marks" and you will find the meaning of that mark in one of those links. It should be a year 1927 or later, when Tanner was founded. Sorry but I can't seem to reply to messages with Reply, others have reported this cross-browser problem.

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  43. Hey!
    I am currently doing a thread about Philadelphia (found here http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread.php?t=213123 ) and I was wondering if I could use some of the images as part of the Gimbel's writeup?

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  44. Yes, and thank you for asking. You may email me at bakgraphics@comcast.net in case you need anything specifically.
    - Bruce

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