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Macy's Holiday Window Display by Emily Polihrom

     In the late 1800s, the abundant availability of large sheets of plate glass for huge windows led to the concept of department store window displays. These displays were used in order to appealingly exhibit the store¿s merchandise. R.H. Macy was the first to develop the elaborate ¿holiday window display¿ in New York City in the 1870s. Families used to bundle up and gather around the windows to gaze at the magical holiday scenes that displayed Macy¿s merchandise. One particular display from 1915 consisted of Christmas dolls and child-sized furniture. The baby dolls were dressed in ruffles and lace, sitting in wicker rocking chairs and carriages; the background was a painted winter scene backdrop. As the years went on, the displays have become more and more elaborate.

    This delightful treat has become a tradition that continues today. The impressive holiday window spectacles found in the Macy¿s in New York City are up and ready for viewing by early to mid-November. Today, Macy¿s features two series of window displays. One set depicts scenes from the film,Miracle on 34th Street, and the second one is of a new theme each year.

    Knowing the history of this tradition that takes place each holiday season helps bring a sense of community and coziness amidst the hustle and bustle of a crowded city. This subtle advertising tool also helps the power and popularity of Macy¿s to continue to escalate. In the late 1800s, families used to gather together to look at the Macy¿s holiday displays as a family activity. Perhaps they also got ideas of what to buy their children for Christmas, and would go back to Macy¿s to purchase these items. Today, families of the city, and tourists alike gather around during the frosty winter to look at the displays that give off the same delightful feeling as they did when they first started. These tourists and families of today don¿t come just to see the displays though; they too will eventually make their way inside to purchase something that catches their eye. It is evident that traditions such as this one make up an aspect of the city that many seem to forget about. Although New York centers much on the theme of independence, and finding your passions independent from others, the holiday displays give off a sense that we are all united as a part of this discovery. As individuals, we can come together once a year to gather around the Macy's window, and absorb the warm feeling of comfort and togetherness one gets from these mesmerizing displays.

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  1. Dec 28, 2011


    I have a collection of window displays that were done for Macy's during WW2 by my mother Harriet Grannis Moore.  Are you interested in viewing the origianl photographs of them or perhaps having an exhibit of them.  They are made of wire, copper, tin sculptures creatures ansd manakins with clothing on them.  They are incredibley charming and representative of 1940s modern art, like Alex Calders work.

    My name is Marguerite Moore and would love to hear from you. My email is

  2. Oct 01, 2013


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