Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Look Through Any Window II

Smoke shop, the Netherlands, 1917
When I worked in advertising, I heard a thing that made sense to me. A guy who specialized in advertising for chain restaurants said that if you want to raise a store's income by 10%, just give it a coat of paint and clean the windows.

Our local Chinese restaurant got caught up in an endless station renovation that routed people away from its door for about two years. Somehow the business survived — probably via take-out. Now that the subway work is almost complete and the scaffolding has come down, the store's windows are thick with dust. I want to tell Mr. Lee, "Wash your windows! Throw some paint on the walls! Look what this store did with a display about milk!"

Rothschild's, Ithaca, NY, 1917

This is my second post about shop windows. (The first is here.) This time, have a look through some windows from the U.S., the UK, the Netherlands and South Africa. The photos date from the early 1900s through the 1940s. Everything says "Come on in."

A ladies' dress shop, Amsterdam, 1915. Note the absence of today's fierce mannequin faces.

Look at this swoopy thing with its Vogue magazines! It's in Newcastle, England, in the 1940s.

Have Hollywood on your mind? This is the Hollywood Hat Shop, also in Newcastle.

World War II was beginning, but these young American boys
seem to have been mesmerized by all the Chinese Checkers sets.


  1. Lovely, Michele! I remember as a kid I loved to look through store windows, there was a department store in my hometown that prided themselves on their displays. Christmas was of course the best, when they went all out, but all year around they took such care in their displays. I think it's a bit of a lost art. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

  2. The photo of the Dutch tobacco shop looks familiar. Is it in Middelburg? If so, it's still there and one of the treasured relics from the past. I liked your comment on the 1915 mannequin faces being so different from today's quasi-posh looking 'meanies' - LOLOL.

    Beautiful photo of the 1930s-'40s children looking into the toy store window.

    Nice blog!

  3. I love this! Off to look at the first post. I hope you'll do more!

  4. Hi Caroline, I have a lot of great memories of my mom taking me for walks down Fifth Avenue to look at the holiday windows. There were so many great stores back then and such clever windows with animated figures doing interesting things. That's probably where my window fascination began.

    @Catfish Tales, thank you for commenting and apologies for taking so long to respond to your question. The tobacco shop photo is part of the "Memory of the Netherlands" collection, which I had to search by putting various words into Google Translate, (The Dutch word for "shops" is "winkels," which I adore for reasons I cannot fathom.) Anyway, here's where you can find the original photo, which does have some explanatory text: http://bit.ly/ktg3uT

    Thank you, J -- so glad you enjoyed it.

  5. Lovely post. Can you possibly let me know where you found the colour picture of the boys? It's a corker!

  6. I love that photo, too. I searched through quite a few photo archives for this post and I'm pretty sure the Library of Congress was my source. But -- good news -- Shorpy also has a copy of it. You can find it here: http://www.shorpy.com/node/435

  7. Hello, yep, got it, thanks. It makes me very happy, that image. :)