Christmas Holiday Windows on State Street: A Chicago Tradition

Christmas Holiday window displays on State Street have been a Chicago tradition since the early 1870’s. It started with the former Marshall Fields and Company flagship Building location on State Street in The Loop of downtown Chicago. It was officially renamed Macy’s on State Street on September 9, 2006.

This tradition traces back to the early days of Marshall Field’s. Founded in 1852 as a dry goods business, but as it grew, the company diversified and became one of the first of a new breed called, department stores. A few years later in 1897, Field’s new display manager, Arthur Fraiser, pioneered window design with his Christmas toy windows. During World War II a new plan for the Christmas holiday season was revealed, theme designed windows that span the length of State Street. As you walked from one end to the other, the windows told a story. This years window theme is “The Magic of Christmas”

On the 7th floor of the former Marshall Field’s is the Walnut Room which opened in 1907, it’s one of Chicago’s most beloved landmarks. You can still sit by the 17-foot marble fountain, amid the original Circassian Walnut paneling and Austrian chandeliers and enjoy a traditional potpie made from Mrs. Hering’s original recipe. The Walnut Room has been a holiday tradition for generations of Chicagoans. The evolution of the Walnut Room on State Street in Chicago began when a member of the Marshall Field’s millinery department, Mrs. Hering, brought homemade pot pies for her clients so they would not go hungry while shopping, as clients would normally need to head home to eat. Taking the lead from Mrs. Hering, in the late 1890’s the Walnut Room was the very first restaurant to be opened in a department store in the United States.

I recall as a child, how very special it was to see the Christmas windows at Marshall Field’s. Here are a few photo’s of this years display and 3 historical images provided by: Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Courtesy of Chicago History Museum.


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