Sunday, June 10, 2012

Perry Plaza in Erie, PA turned 60 on June 5

Perry Plaza in Erie PA turned 60 on June 5

The Perry Plaza on Broad Street and Fairmont Parkway in Erie, Pennsylvania opened on June 5, 1952. Incredibly, the plaza had two grocery stores, Loblaws and A&P. The plaza still exists and is conveniently located on Route 20; the eastside Bayfront Connector runs right behind the plaza. 

Property for the plaza was selected on May 24, 1950 by Broad-Erie, Inc. Attorney Leonard P. Schur was secretary of this corporation. I. Margolin & Sons began construction on the plaza on July 27, 1951. The original plaza tenants, in addition to Loblaws and Atlantic and Pacific (A&P) included: Gray Drug Store, Quaker Dry Cleaner, Union Bank, F. W. Woolworth, Zehe's Bakery, Carter Shoes, National Meats & Vegetables, Pennsylvania Dutch Farms, Dean Phipps Store, Boston Factory Shoe Repair and a Pennsylvania State liquor store. 

Loblaws was billed as 'Erie's Most Modern 100% Self-Serve Market' and was open Thursday night until 8 p.m. and Friday night until 9 p.m. Erie County Farms currently occupies this site. Dunn Tire occupies the old Union Bank location on the right side of this drawing. 

This plaza was on the smaller side, with parking for 1,000 cars; the West Erie Plaza boasted parking for 3,000 cars (see article "West Erie Plaza Map 1971 posted on Old Time Erie on May 17, 2012: 

My parents shopped at Loblaws in the early seventies. I remember a bar on the right side of this plaza. Union Bank was in a different location than the one shown here- it was a few stores to the left of the one in this drawing, and it had a unique feature, you could drive right through the building and come out behind the plaza.

The Perry Plaza Bowling Center opened around 1953 at 2230 Broad Street, in the corner where the two sections of the plaza meet. I bowled there many, many times in the seventies and eighties. It had 20 lanes and was equipped with AMF automatic pinspotters. And, you could get pepperoni balls at the pizza shop nearby.


  1. That bar may have been the Niagra Bar & Grill. Cleanest bar I had ever seen. I also remember the two fires at the Plaza back in the 60's. We were bowling at the time and they had everyone leave. We stood out side and watched it burn away. I THINK they used to shoot off fireworks from behind the plaza at one time. Ahhh ... the drive through bank tunnel. I remember not judging the clearance very well the day I got my drivers license. Crunched all the fenders and doors on my way in. Ugh. I hated making tyhat call to my father when I got home. He had just given me the car two hours earlier. :-(

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  3. My co-worker also scratched up her car going through the 'bank tunnel.' She thinks they added on to the plaza to the north of Union Bank.

  4. I learned how to bowl at the Perry Plaza and bowled in a junior bowling league as a child...My parents also bowled in a league there..I think the Niagara Bar sponsored their team because they had bowling shirts with Niagara Bar printed on the back of them..and they always would go out for drinks there after bowling..I do remember a fire at Perry Plaza too...and The Niagara Bar later became the Lyons Den...

  5. I worked at Union Bank as a float teller in the late 70s, and Perry Plaza was my favorite branch assignment. So many nice people in the neighborhood. It seemed in the two years that I worked there so many merchants opened and closed stores. The bank, the bowling alley and Pizza Plus (yum!!) were the only constants. That was about the time Mason's across the street closed. Several of my friends opened accounts at the bank just so they could use the drive-in tunnel; it was quite a novelty! I also remember shopping at Carter's and Loblaw's when I was younger. Oh, yes, and I remember the fire as well. Thanks for posting this! Brings back a lot of memories.

  6. Does anyone remember the S&H Green Stamp store that I think moved in after A&P closed?

  7. Some relatives of mine lived on East 26th Street, and their living room window had a perfect view of the Perry Plaza. I remember that as a toddler, I loved watching the lights flash on the neon tower. If I recall correctly, I think the drugstore had a real soda bar, something we never see any more!

  8. I loved Erie as a kid. We moved from Ash St. to Harborcreek in 1952, one of the the best two years of my life, the other being 1968. Harborcreek was paradise for a 6 year old in 1952

    Nothing was a delightful as State Street during Christmas back in the 50s and 60s. The Boston Store! The dock. Real stores and no empty store fronts. State Street before it became main st., Beirut.

  9. My mother worked at the Woolworth's store in Perry Plaza in 1956-58. She ran the candy and cookie counter. If you knew my mother this was the perfect job for her. She had the biggest sweet tooth. On Friday nights it was her job to clean out all the cookie bins and add fresh cookies. She would come home with a big, clear plastic bag full of broken cookies. I am not sure if this was a "perk" of the job or she paid a small amount for them. All I know is we had broken cookie parties almost every week. There were windmill cookies, gingersnaps, strawberry pink, vanilla and chocolate wafer cookies and so many others it was hard to choose a favorite. The Woolworth's store is where I got my Halloween costume each year. Cardboard box with a cellophane window and a molded plastic Cinderella mask with bright yellow hair. $1.99. I hated those masks. Your face sweated, the elastic cord just about cut off circulation to your brain and they were just plain scary looking! My love of crafts was born here also. Paint by numbers, coloring books, Crayola crayons (on special occasions you got the sharpener and 164 crayons), looms to make potholders, crochet hooks, embroidery thread, molded birds that you could put together and paint. Everything in that store fascinated me. I loved it on Friday nights when we picked her up and I could go inside till she was through. What I wouldn't give for a Woolworths right now. I wish there were pictures of those ladies. I, too, remember the fire. We were picking my mother up, saw the fire trucks and smoke everywhere. I was about 8 and panicked until I knew my mom was safe.
    The S&H Green Stamp store was a special treat. It was my job to lick those stamps and place them in the books. The glue tasted terrible, but when they were full my mom would sometimes let me redeem them for something I wanted. (She did this even when I was married).
    Does anyone remember the Encyclopedia's you could buy each week at the grocery store when you purchased so much? The first was always $.99, but the others were $1.99. I had those books for ever. I think there were 26. This was also where you bought laundry soap (Duz, I think) that had a cup or saucer or dinner plate inside. They offered those colonial green, red or blue dishes as a promotion. Everyone wanted the entire set. Fast forward 50 years and I see them in every thrift store, but now they are $5-$10. It takes me bak and makes me smile.