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WHAT KILLED DOWNTOWN: The Decline of Norristown's Shopping District

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 1654 Dekalb St Norristown PA 19401  See map

Downtown Norristown, the traditional shopping location of central Montgomery County for over a century, has been in transition for a number of years. The presentation focuses on the years between 1950 and 1975.


In his new book, “What Killed Downtown? Norristown, Pennsylvania, from Main Street to the Malls,” Tolle places Norristown within a historical framework dating back to William Penn.  The narrative examines and evaluates the contributions of several known and unknown suspects involved in this decline.  His conclusions draw on Fundamental realities, and offer a contribution toward issues that still resonate in small town America today.


Michael E. Tolle conceived the idea of a book about the collapse of downtown Norristown while a part-time staff member at the Society. He realized that the collection known as “the City Directories,” previously the focus of genealogists, offered ample data for a study of commercial Norristown.  These, together with the collections of period documents and photographs, provided a large portion of the basic foundation of his research.  Mr. Tolle's book will be available for purchase and signing.

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