American Girl Place, home of $115 vinyl dolls and their very expensive accessories, is moving to a 40,000-square-foot space at 75 Rockefeller Plaza, doubling the size of their current space a few blocks south. This is only important news if you have a small doll-obsessed child or are George Costanza's dead fiancée. But now that Rockefeller Center is becoming Doll Central, it's worth taking a look back at every '90s child's favorite overpriced toy.

American Girl Dolls first came to be in 1986, the soft-bellied brainchildren of former schoolteacher and children's publisher/writer Pleasant Rowland. Rowland was inspired to launch her biz, dubbed Pleasant Company, after visiting Colonial Williamsburg, which explains why one of the earlier dolls, the ginger Felicity Merriman, lives in Williamsburg around the time of the American Revolution. She noticed there weren't enough dolls for children that focused on girlhood, and thus, the American Girl was born.

Other dolls from the OG collection include Kirsten, a blonde who moves from Sweden to Minnesota with her family; Addy, an escaped slave; Molly, a bespectacled creature growing up during World War II; and Samantha, a super rich orphan living in Victorian New York. Each doll was accompanied by a series of six books—a "Meet [Blank]" book, a school story, a Christmas story, a springtime birthday story, a summer tale and a winter story. Those books had corresponding outfits and accessories (doll-sized hoop skirts! And petit fours! And abacuses!).

There were also non-historical "American Girl of Today" dolls with hair, eye and skin colors you could mix and match as you pleased, along with tiny backyard grills, '90s-style sweaters, scrunchies, and plastic lunch trays and milk cartons for purchase. The company also started manufacturing "Bitty Babies," adorable baby dolls who came with their own sweet little accessories. But in the '90s, the historical dolls were The Thing, and each doll had a personality that tended to correspond with that of their human owner. I was more of a Molly (total nerd), but ended up with Samantha (popular pretty girl) for reasons that still don't make sense.

I got Samantha on my seventh birthday, in September 1996. I like to think of this period as Peak American Girl Doll, but that's probably because I happened to be the target audience at the time. She came in a cardboard box that looked remarkably like a coffin and it took me a small lifetime to free her from it, an experience I have to relive each time I purchase a new pair of earbuds. I still remember how sweet she smelled, and how soft and clean her vinyl skin was, and her pristine hair, slightly curled at the bottom and held half back by a gingham ribbon that matched her dress.

Note: this is a modernized version of Samantha Parkington, ft. a different dress.

Of course, after only a few weeks of owning her, that perfect hair looked akin to a small bird's nest. A year in, her skin was smeared with dirt and, probably, my tears and mucus. I tried to pierce her ears a few times, and at some point her arm fell off and we had to send her to the special American Girl doll hospital, from which she returned with a fresh hairdo and a miniature balloon. But she sustained all that abuse because I loved her, and dragged her around with me, and made her the talk of my stuffed animal town.

Not long after I got Samantha, the company introduced Josefina, who hailed from New Mexico around the time Mexico became a federalist republic, and a million more dolls have followed since—Kit Kittredge, an aspiring journalist during the Great Depression; Kaya, a Native American; Julie, a San Franciscan flower child; and a whole bunch of friend-dolls that popped up in the historical novels. In 2009, eleven years after I wrote them a letter begging them to creature a Jewish historical doll who lived on the Lower East Side, they introduced a Russian Jewish immigrant girl who, you guessed it, lives on the Lower East Side. Her name is Rebecca, and I am still waiting for my royalties.

In the '90s, the dolls cost $82 plus shipping and handling. I know this because I spent years trying to save my 50-cent-a-week allowance to purchase another one but never got around to it. Some girls in my class had the full five-to-six doll collection, with a modern American Girl doll to boot—based on information from some of my former babysitting charges and day camp campers, that doll glut appears to be even more common now. Pleasant Company's also gone through some changes—in 1998, Rowland sold the company to Mattel, and now the clothes and accessories more closely resemble the violent pink-and-sparkly crap you'd find in a Barbie discount bin, which is a huge bummer.

Some dolls, like Samantha and Kirsten, have been archived and reintroduced a few years later. There's more emphasis on the modern dolls, now called Truly Me, while the historical dolls have been rebranded as the BeForever collection. There is now a rotating Girl of the Year doll, a modern girl who gets her own storyline and set of books. Though once upon a time you could only order dolls through the catalog, a number of American Girl stores have opened around the country, including the current space at 609 5th Avenue, which boasts a bookstore, tea room and cafe and doll hair salon, in addition to the retail store.

These days American Girl seems like more in the business of making money than in the business of empowering and educating young girls, but maybe that's just because I grew up, or they grew up, who knows. The new mammoth American Girl Place space will include a media studio, private event rooms, and salons, according to Commercial Observer; it's set to open in fall 2017.