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Northland Regional Shopping Center

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1954, Victor Gruen Associates. 21500 Northwestern Hwy.

With the advent of the metropolitan Detroit area freeway system following World War II and the directly related suburban growth, the regional shopping center was born. Northland Center is the first large, regional shopping center built in America. It was designed in 1952 by Gruen Associates of Los Angeles, New York City, and Detroit. The infrastructure was a compact cluster plan of a city within a city and embraced every aspect of modern-day urban design. It opened for business in 1954, with more than one hundred tenant stores clustered around the J. L. Hudson Company department store. Located in the then rapidly developing area northwest of Detroit, the center has since tripled in size. Its conveniently assembled shops, stores, restaurants, and markets were arranged with pedestrians safely separated from traffic and service vehicles and with parking for almost ten thousand automobiles. Near the main entrance to the former Hudson's, now Macy's, is Marshall Fredericks's delightful limestone and bronze Boy and Bear sculpture (1954).

In 1957, Hudson's repeated the Northland formula at Eastland (18000 Vernier Road, Harper Woods). But using Gruen's innovations for Southdale in Minneapolis, the company enclosed the malls and courts and added a second anchor store when it built shopping centers at Westland in 1956 (35000 Warren Road) and Southland (23000 Eureka Road) in Taylor in 1970. Subsequently, Northland and Eastland were remodeled to enclose their malls and courts and were expanded to include additional major department stores and many more shops. Gruen's concept for Northland was adopted by shopping center developers nationwide.

Writing Credits

Kathryn Bishop Eckert


What's Nearby


Kathryn Bishop Eckert, "Northland Regional Shopping Center", [Southfield, Michigan], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Michigan

Buildings of Michigan, Kathryn Bishop Eckert. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012, 169-170.

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