During the 1930s the neighborhood shopping center emerged as an important phenomenon in the development of retail facilities in the United States. Prior to that decade, the type was limited to a modest number of examples built as components of planned residential subdivisions for the well-to-do. By the eve of World War II, the neighborhood shopping center was seen as an advantageous means of meeting the routine needs of people in outlying urban areas generally. During the 1930s, the neighborhood center also became one of the first common building forms to experience a basic reconfiguration to accommodate patterns of widespread automobile usage. Washington, D. C., was the initial and by far the most intensive proving ground for this work at its formative stage. The results were influential nationwide in the shopping center's transformation from a novelty to a ubiquitous feature of the American landscape.

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