Excerpted From The Encyclopedia of Chicago – “Shopping Districts and Malls” by Larry Bennett
In the years following the fire…Marshall Fields emerged as a pioneering retail establishment. On the one hand, the scale of Field’s operation was spectacular – employing as many as 9,000 people during peak shopping periods – but just as influential was Marshall Field’s dedication to providing solicitous service to its affluent female clientele. Not only could such women count on home delivery of larger items, but within the store customer lounges and dining rooms transformed shopping into a leisure pastime.
By 1900 State Street was lined with retailers from Lake Street south to Van Buren Street. The preeminence of the State Street retail corridor was assisted by the geography of the city’s mass transit lines, which carried many streetcars, and later, elevated trains into Chicago’s commercial core. Indeed, in 1897, when the elevated Union rail loop was completed in the downtown area, central Chicago had won its permanent designation as “the Loop.”
Photo shows State Street 1940s holiday crowds via Chuckman Chicago Nostalgia.