John Wanamaker collection Collection 2188 1 The Historical Society of Pennsylvania John Wanamaker Collection, 1827-1987
John Wanamaker (1838-1922) was a well-known merchant, entrepreneur, and lifelong resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was active in the city’s religious, political, and philanthropic areas, founded several Presbyterian churches
and Sunday schools, and served as Postmaster General under President Benjamin Harrison from 1889 to 1893.
He opened his first Philadelphia clothing store, Oak Hall, with partner Nathan Brown in 1861, and founded John Wanamaker and Co. several years later in 1869. In 1876, they opened “A New Kind of Store” known as the Grand Depot at 13th and Market Streets. This store later became the flagship store, which eventually branched out into central and southeastern Pennsylvania. Satellite stores were also established in New Jersey, Delaware, and New York City. Wanamaker was at the forefront in many areas in retailing including merchandising, employee relations and advertising. His sons Thomas B. Wanamaker and L. Rodman Wanamaker were also active in the business. Thomas ran John Wanamaker and Co. in Philadelphia and Rodman took over the New York store operations in 1906.