A Mall at Midlife


Candles on the cake this month for Southdale Center, which opened to great fanfare in Edina on October 7, 1956. The innovative $20 million shopping center, conceived and built by the Dayton Company, drew national press attention, including the cover of Time magazine and stories in the New York Times, Life, and Fortune.

square feet. Total building space when Southdale first opened (today it’s 1.3 million). In the original mix: the first suburban outposts for Dayton’s and Donaldson’s department stores, a cigar shop, a petting zoo, a post office, and a 30,000-square-foot Red Owl—the largest grocery in the Upper Midwest.

cents. Advertised sale price for young parakeets at F. W. Woolworth’s during opening weekend (regular price: $1.98). Other specials included women’s broadcloth dusters with Peter Pan collars for $1.79 and a “super jumbo triple-dip banana split” for 39 cents.

of 72. Number of original tenants that are still doing business at Southdale. Hint: the place has sole.* Other remnants of the 1950s include the golden tree sculptures in Center Court and the animal-themed parking lot signs. “I swear we left the Range Rover in the Rooster Lot….”

Amount spent on area road improvements—including the widening of France Avenue to four lanes—before Southdale’s opening day. Later, the Dayton Company contributed $850,000 toward construction of the Crosstown Highway, which was completed in the 1960s. Good thing: Southdale now draws some 15 million visitors a year.

Number of times contributing editor Sandra Hoyt has visited Southdale in her 20-plus years in the Twin Cities. Really. She keeps a log.