Source: Mercantile Library Collection
Washington and Fifth
Construction Date:
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F. W. Woolworth's famous "red-front" five and dime variety stores were a familiar feature of Main Streets across the country. During the 1950s, the national chain boasted about 25 locations in the St. Louis area, including its flagship store on Washington Boulevard and 5th Street. In 1956, Woolworth's opened a new downtown store on Locust and 6th Street.

Woolworth's was a consumer paradise for shoppers on a limited budget. Customers chose from a wide array of merchandise at discount prices: ribbons, candy, lipstick, toys, school supplies, and live parakeets. Weary shoppers could take a load off their feet and refresh themselves with a cup of coffee at the long lunch counter, provided they had white skin. Like many other downtown eating establishments, the Woolworth's lunch counter was racially segregated, prompting civil rights organizations to stage demonstrations and sit-ins.