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The History of Holiday Window Displays



The beginnings of holiday window displays can be traced back to the days of the industrial revolution. Since many storefronts featured plate glass windows at the time, some business owners would create the grand displays that are so familiar now. Those displays would draw such crowds that the idea of “window shopping” was born. For many onlookers, though, it was about more than shopping. It was a symbol of the holiday spirit.

An assortment of Christmas decorations representing a holiday window display

Macy’s and the Early Competition for Eyes

In 1874, Macy’s put up one of the first notable holiday window displays. The display showcased scenes from Harriet Beacher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin using porcelain dolls. It was a big hit with crowds. As the years went on, competition intensified among department stores in major cities like Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia. By 1914, Sak’s had begun scheduling unveiling events for their big display windows.

The Element of Surprise and Genuine Cheer

As more and more attention came to holiday displays, department stores started to shroud their development in mystery. Using hydraulic lifts, teams would work on the displays in basements and raise them up into the window’s view when ready. Around the same time, stores began to eschew having their products in the display, instead opting to simply celebrate the holidays.

Modern Artistry

Holiday displays have taken on whole new levels of artistry in the modern day. Many department stores now team with artists and fashion designers to create intricate displays. For example, in 2015, Bergdorfs of New York created a display with the help of designers Johnson Hartig, Naeem Khan, and CD Greene that used thousands of Swarovski crystals.

Echo Limousine would be proud to become a part of your holiday plans. Whether you’re heading to Macy’s on State Street for the annual Christmas tree lighting, visiting Santaland, or traveling to see family in or around Chicago, our experienced drivers can get you where you need to go. Text or call us at (773) 774-1074 or book online to reserve your car service this holiday season.

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