On a recent drive through Maryland’s D.C. suburbs in Prince George’s County—the same trip that inspired this post—I checked out an old, out-of-business movie theater in Riverdale. It’s in an aging but mostly occupied strip plaza from the late 1960s. The whole place looks like it’s never received a renovation.
There’s a space-age supermarket down the road and an old-fashioned, very early strip mall across the street that looks like an urban block. This is a working-class neighborhood, and it’s always interesting to me how these places retain more of their old commercial architecture. All of these early suburban landscapes started out looking pretty much the same, but the more affluent ones have renovated, demolished, and rebuilt a lot of this stuff, while in the less affluent ones, it sticks around, and people adapt it and make do.