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Marshall Field's at Christmas


The aisle on the first floor of the State Street store is 358 feet long. Postcard publisher is unknown. 

Many Chicagoans continue to miss visiting Marshall Field’s during the holiday season. Just talking about the famed Christmas windows and holiday decorations brings about memories of the department store’s glory days.

Many of us can recall the strong smell of perfume that would greet visitors upon entering the flagship State Street store, along with the huge white Romanesque columns decorated with Christmas fare on the first floor. The real fun, however, was taking the elevator to the 7th floor to get a glimpse of the giant Christmas tree inside the Walnut Room restaurant. The best place to view the tree was one floor up on a balcony area.

Christmas decorations on the first floor. Postcard publisher is unknown. 

Frango mint chocolates were piled high in various areas throughout the store, and many visitors couldn’t resist buying a box. Frango chocolates were once made in a kitchen inside the store.

Shoppers were hit hard in 2006 after Marshall Field’s was converted to a Macy’s department store. Instead of friends or lovers meeting under the giant green clock outside the store, protestors chanted for the return of their beloved Marshall Field’s. It did not have much of an impact.

The Christmas tree in the Walnut Room Restaurant in the 1930s. Postcard publisher is unknown. 

Macy’s officials, however, did make a promise that the downtown store would include the same décor. And it seems for the most part that things have stayed the same.

Marshall Field moved to Chicago from Massachusetts when he was 21 years old. He worked in the dry goods industry before opening up his store in 1852.

His new store became an instant success for many reasons, including great customer service, the option to return merchandise, and a bargain basement area. Marshall Field’s was one of the first department stores to include a discount area, a restaurant, and window displays, including the famous Christmas windows.

The men's area on the first floor in 1914. Postcard publisher is unknown. 

In 1907, when the Walnut Room opened its doors, it offered women a safe place to eat alone or with friends while at the store. Its famed dish was chicken pot pie, and the aroma enticed people to eat there.

Walnut Room employees put a small Christmas tree up in the early days of the restaurant. In time, more Christmas décor like giant candy canes, ornaments, and even ice sculptures were added each year. The giant Christmas tree in the restaurant was first displayed in 1934.

Some of the store’s Christmas fare had an influence on pop culture. In 1946, Marshall Field’s introduced the character Uncle Misletoe to compete with Montgomery Ward’s creation, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. These characters were featured in books, decorations, and film.

Shoppers using the escalator at Marshall Field's. The publisher of the postcard is unknown. 

The store would even send out Christmas cards to its customers. Visiting Marshall Field’s soon became a holiday in itself for many downtown shoppers. There are numerous postcards of the Marshall Field’s department store. The postcards were given to customers as a way to advertise the store. One could collect Marshall Field's postcards alone and have a sizeable collection.

Marshall Field's at State, Washington, Randolph and Wabash Streets. Postcard published by the J.O. Stoll Co., Chicago.

Marshall Field's on State Street. Postcard published by Franklin Postcard Co., Chicago. 

Marshall Field's on State Street. Postcard publisher is unknown. 

A very old postcard of the exterior of Marshall Field's. Postcard publisher is unknown. 

Marshall Field's advertisement for men. Postcard publisher is unknown. 


  1. Thank you for sharing these iconic photos and history of a great Chicago landmark. I miss Marshall Field's.

  2. nice to read the history and see a few new to me cards. have a few from the store and Yellow Cab. Miss going downtown, fun place to bike ans walk. great museums!


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