Philadelphia Sears Warehouse
4640 Roosevelt Boulevard (Route 1 between Adams Street and Whitaker Avenue)
Philadelphia, PA 19124
This nondescript retail area was once the site of a massive Sears distribution warehouse serving the northeast. The five-million-square-foot complex employed 4,500 people at its peak and included a Sears retail store, a 14-story clock tower, several warehouses and the company's regional headquarters. The red-brick gothic complex opened in 1920 and had its own power plant and fire station.
As Sears declined in the late 20th century, operations at the facility slowly wound down until it was closed in February of 1993. The main buildings and 48 acres of land were sold to a Philadelphia developer for demolition and redevelopment with the Home Depot and other retail stores pictured here. The remaining 72-acre warehouse and distribution facility to the west was sold to Cardone Industries (an auto parts remanufacturer and distributor) and remained in operation when I visited in 2006 and 2008.
The two surviving portions of the main complex are the power station (which serves as a vertical billboard and cellular phone tower) and the fire station (which still supports the surrounding community). Supposedly, somewhere underneath one of the stores is a 1960's-era subway station built for a proposed line that was never realized.