This year’s Christmas at Marshall Field’s tours have begun! I took my first guests through the big store this weekend. The snow was falling, the tree was up in the Walnut Room, the holiday windows on State Street were pretty…okay, the store is bedecked, Christmas music playing, the smell of Frango Mints everywhere, and lots of shoppers were out.
The whole Macy’s overlay to the iconic Field’s can be depressing… but my goal is not let that interfere with glorying in the Marshall Field’s legacy. We emphasize the positive on WendyCity tours!
I especially love to share images of Christmas decorations from the past. Marshall Field’s employed a small army of people to design the store’s decorations, Christmas tree, and windows. And they worked year-round.
One of my tour guests last year had worked in the design department in the 1970s and recalled that it was actually like one, gigantic theater set workshop: props and materials galore. The design staff had their areas of specialty: some created the display windows, others concentrated on the Walnut Room Christmas tree, while others had the main aisle as their visual playground.
The main aisle design of the 1930s is especially glorious (see above…ice reindeer!). Here, the main aisle made to look like a wintry forest, with angels hovering overhead:
The 1950s, featuring lots of bells and feathery trees:
The 1960s with Santa as a central focus:
Colorful figures and German Weihnachtspyramide (1960s):
And a relatively minimalist 1970 view with another huge German Weihnachtspyramide (and new jewelry counters, to boot):
Christmas shopping at Marshall Field’s was a magical experience, meant to transport (and entice you to purchase)!