New York kids, toy windows, and holiday dreams

Is there anything more wonderful for a kid than a holiday toy store window display? These kids—their eyes transfixed on dolls and blocks and drums and animal figurines—answer the question.


Holiday-themed store windows apparently got their start in New York, of course. Macy’s pioneered them way back in 1874 when the store was located on 14th Street, and toys were among the merchandise on display.


These photos were all taken around the city between 1910 and 1915 by George Bain. The names of the stores or addresses aren’t listed, unfortunately.


But this last one below must be a big retailer. Look at all the adults crowded around, getting a close look!


[Photos: Bain Collection/LOC]

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4 Responses to “New York kids, toy windows, and holiday dreams”

  1. voluntariopr Says:

    I grew up in in Brooklyn in the late 1940s and 1950s and every Christmas season my parents would take me to see the window displays at A&S on Fulton St They had a revolving credit account there and you got free gift wrapping as a perk. They also had a corps of snappily uniformed elevator operators. All of them were African American men and they had a star on their sleeve cuff of their jacket for each 10 years of service . Other stores in the area included Namms and Robert Hall and Korvettes. Sometimes we ate at Juniors. Once we went to Gage & Tolners for Lunch and the wer a bunch of ornate movie houses as well like the Lowes Metropolitan, RKO Fox and of course the Brooklyn Paramount.

  2. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Last I heard, Gage and Tollner’s was a Wendy’s or some other fast food place, I believe. At least Juniors is still making those cheesecakes.

  3. Tom B Says:

    We were in NYC a couple of weeks ago to see the decorated store fronts on 5th Ave. Very disappointing. You could hardly tell it was Christmas. Nothing like your pics. Did we look at the wrong kind of stores?

  4. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    I haven’t seen any windows this year, but my hunch is that they reflect more of a winter carnival theme rather than actual Christmas.

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