When I was a young boy, my mother and father would take me to Pittsburgh to see the train displays at Kauffman's, Horne's and Gimbels. We also went to Johnstown, to the Penn Traffic store to see their displays. If we could only turn back time.

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You're not alone Jim.  Growing up in Philadelphia, my parents would take us down town to shop.  Wanamakers, Gimbels, Strawbridges, Lit Brother and Snellenbergs were the major department stores then.   Wanamaker had the largest and most elaborate toy department.  But they all had toy departments.  The display windows along Market Street were always packed with Lionel and American Flyer layouts.  And the crowds would gather there all day.  

None of those department stores exist now.  Wanamakers has become a Macys.  Strawbridge sold out not too long ago and I believe it may be a Kohls now.  Gimbels and Lits became part of the Market East complex.  Snellenbergs closed some time in the early '70s and the top floors removed.  If I am not mistaken it houses numerous stores now.  

So much has changed sine I was young.  Even PRR's Chinese wall, which was there until I was very young, I still recall.

Dan Padova

 

"In the course of my life I have had to eat my words, and I must confess it was a wholesome diet"..........Winston Churchill

                                                                                                                                        

Growing up in Scranton, PA, we went to look at the layouts in the Globe, Scranton Dry, and Penn Furniture and, then, a trip to Scranton Hobby Center (at it Adams Avenue Location) for something for the under-the-tree trains. American Auto never had a layout, but had a big Lionel Display window. Just out of town was Eynon Drug with a large train department. Woolworths and Kresges had PennLine HO trains.  - Something to do every Saturday!

Jim,

I miss those displays and stores in Pittsburgh as well. We always made a trip to Pittsburgh (from Warren) during the Christmas season to see the spectacular window displays with all the animation as well as the trains. I wish I could show my kids what that was like. Today no one would give up the window space for anything but merchandise!!!! 

Jim, I visited your store in late 2010 just as you were clearing out all of your inventory.  I was lucky enough as a child to visit the original Bowdish display in Brookville before it was moved to Buhl Planetarium.  It was a real thrill to see the massive display every Christmas with the Lionel trains, animation, at least four  transformers, a large number of controllers and relays clicking.

Penn Traffic was a well run general merchandise chain than morphed into groceries with its Riverside and BiLo stores in western Pennsylvania and Ohio, headquartered in Johnstown with a large grocery distribution warehouse in DuBois.

I can remember pushing my whole face against the glass and launching myself into LA LA land. Dream is all I could do. Nick

No such thing as over kill-do it RIGHT.                                                                                                                             

rockstars1989 posted:

I can remember pushing my whole face against the glass and launching myself into LA LA land. Dream is all I could do. Nick

Nick,

Do you remember the trains displays at Halle Brothers 7th floor toyland in Cleveland?  I remember when Super O came out. Oh to have had a camera.  (Keep in mind I'm 68).

Lou N

Lou N posted:
rockstars1989 posted:

I can remember pushing my whole face against the glass and launching myself into LA LA land. Dream is all I could do. Nick

Nick,

Do you remember the trains displays at Halle Brothers 7th floor toyland in Cleveland?  I remember when Super O came out. Oh to have had a camera.  (Keep in mind I'm 68).

Lou N

LOU, I remember Hallies Downtown! We used to go down at a very very early age. Higbees - May Co And Halle's.

We only knew the small trains sets we had, so when we seen those displays our eyes swelled into tennis balls.

I remember how many people there were down there it had to be in the tens of thousands.

I can remember going to sleep at night and dreaming of those trains. I asked god to let Christmas last forever. Nick

No such thing as over kill-do it RIGHT.                                                                                                                             

Penn Traffic had 3 divisions...Penn Traffic department stores...Riverside markets...and the Sanitary Dairy. Penn Traffic went through at least 3 bankruptcies after being taken over by raiders. Subsequently the Sanitary Dairy was sold to Deans Foods...and they just went chapter 11.Deans Closed the dairy in the 90's  and kept all of the ice cream recipes, and auctioned off all of the equipment. Also at the last bankruptcy they liquidated the company and the supermarket arm that also had Quality Markets was closed about 5 of those stores in Crawford and Erie counties (in Pa.) became TOPS markets.... a chain in NW New York.  What an end to a once profitable corporation. Only folks who lived in NW Pa would know this. From my 13 years living in Johnstown I can attest to this.

 

 

 

jim sutter posted:

When I was a young boy, my mother and father would take me to Pittsburgh to see the train displays at Kauffman's, Horne's and Gimbels. We also went to Johnstown, to the Penn Traffic store to see their displays. If we could only turn back time.

All the same for me.  Penn Traffic was my favorite.  Fond memories!!!  There was as also some department store in Sharon that had trains upstairs.  Jim, do you recall what would have been the store in Sharon?

Lou N posted:
rockstars1989 posted:

I can remember pushing my whole face against the glass and launching myself into LA LA land. Dream is all I could do. Nick

Nick,

Do you remember the trains displays at Halle Brothers 7th floor toyland in Cleveland?  I remember when Super O came out. Oh to have had a camera.  (Keep in mind I'm 68).

Lou N

Mr. Jingaling at Halle’s!  And The Hobby House on Huron, Trading Post on Pearl Road and my favorite, Jaye and Jaye Trains in East Cleveland. All Cleveland area train stores. Those were good times. 

When I was a later grade schooler my mother would take me "shopping" in Pittsburgh on Friday after Thanksgiving.   It was real adventure for me to ride the bus from Glenwillard and spend the day in the really big city.    She would let me visit all the toy departments at Gimbels, Hornes, Kaufmanns and maybe there was still a Rosenbaums.     I remember walking through the old diamond market.     And the trip always included lunch at an Isaly's in the city.     That was my only experience at eating out when I was a kid.    I remember I loved the fried chipped ham sandwiches, the grilled cheese, and the milkshakes were a must.   

All the stores had train displays and took up a good deal of my visit just looking and day dreaming.

jim sutter posted:

When I was a young boy, my mother and father would take me to Pittsburgh to see the train displays at Kauffman's, Horne's and Gimbels. We also went to Johnstown, to the Penn Traffic store to see their displays. If we could only turn back time.

Hi Jim:

As I posted in a recent thread which mentioned Kaufmann's, back in the day Kaufmann’s was The Place in Pittsburgh to see toy trains during the Holidays!  Even before you got inside the store you could watch the trains running in the window displays along the street and then once inside see many more trains up in the toy department.  They had Lionel and American Flyer layouts and all sorts of inventory.  My first electric train, a Lionel set, came from there and not from Santa as I found out a few years later!

MTH even made a Christmas boxcar with an artist's drawing of the front corner of the store showing their famous clock which was a popular landmark under which friends and family would meet to go shopping in the store.

Fond memories for sure!

Bill

WRGMILW posted:

Hi Jim 

is Kauffman's,  still around ?  

If not , is the store building still there ?  

What street is it on ? What is the intersection ? 

 

Thanks in Advance 

 

The building is located on Smithfield Street between Forbes and Fifth Avenues.  Kaufmann’s was bought by Macy’s and in 2006 they changed the name of all of the Kaufmann's stores to Macy’s.  Then in 2015, Macy’s closed the downtown store.  The building was sold and remodeled and converted into a hotel which just opened last month under the name EVEN Hotel.

Bill

What a nostalgic thread!  to PRRJim:  My first job at Wal-Mart was managing a deli.  We were always so busy and short of help.  I had to spend plenty of time on the counter slicing cold cuts.  When a customer would ask for "chipped chopped ham" I would tell them that I would slice it so thin that they would think it came from Isaly's. "How do you know where I'm from!" would be the surprised reply.  It seems that only in that part of the country (western PA, eastern Ohio) was it called that way.  I am so glad that there are so many of us from the same part of the country.  I routinely go to the posters profile page to find out what I can. Our experiences are so much alike.  Happy Thanksgiving.  This has been such a wonderful thread to participate in.

As a little kid in SW PA the 70s, there was a whirlwind trip into town for shopping and trains. 

Aside from Kaufmanns and Hornes, there was a stop in SW Randalls with those funny European HO trains (Marklin) on one of the upper floors.

My dad worked in one of the Gateway Center buildings, and sometimes there would be trains in the lobby. 

Of course there was also a trip to Buhl Planetarium.

 

Wasn't Bill and Walts up by the B&O station at one point? I think that's where Santa shopped.  

Kaufmann's Department Stroe is this year's new addition to the Miniature Railroad & Village, at the Carnegie Science Center, in Pittsburg.  The structure is made with acrylic Plexiglas, and the facadeis 3D-printed resin.  Stop by and take a look.                  Jack

TCA 85-2...., Pittsburgh Independent Hi-Railers 

 

"Never, never, never, quit"

I miss those larger-than-life department stores, too. In Philly, I remember taking the train from Trevose station to Reading Terminal, and then walking to Gimbels for their Charles Dickens Victorian display, and then to John Wanamakers for their fantastic train layout and toy department, with the grand finale being their spectacular light show. I was told at one time they had a working monorail that kids could ride in, but I don't remember that. The train layout I later learned was set up by the original Nicholaus Smith train shop.

Today, we have Boscov's - which is a nice department store with good prices and that old-time customer service...and they do setup a Dept. 56/Lemax display, and sell trains.

 

 

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No question about it, Lionel trains were VERY pervasive in the 1950s and 1960s.  I'm 74 now, but I can remember like it was yesterday, going to the J. L. Hudson store in downtown Detroit around Christmas, every year for many years and being absolutely overwhelmed by the amount of trains they had on display and for sale.  I grew up and still live in a small Ontario city of about 40000 people.  Back in the fifties and sixties the population was even less, and yet I can still remember at least six different stores (all within the downtown area) that sold Lionel trains.  They were literally, everywhere, albeit not nearly as plentiful as in that Hudson store.  BTW, that department store, like so many, is long gone.  Great memories though.

 

WftTrains posted

The building is located on Smithfield Street between Forbes and Fifth Avenues.  Kaufmann’s was bought by Macy’s and in 2006 they changed the name of all of the Kaufmann's stores to Macy’s.  Then in 2015, Macy’s closed the downtown store.  The building was sold and remodeled and converted into a hotel which just opened last month under the name EVEN Hotel.

Bill

I still have my Kauffman's credit card from many years ago.

Growing up near Dayton Ohio my Mom would take us kids to go see Santa at Rike's. The line to see Santa went right past a huge HO train display. The display windows down on the streets were filled with all the toys for the Christmas season. This is where the Lionel and American Flyer trains were displayed. Kinda like you see in the movie, "The Christmas Story". I believe there was even a Daisy Red Rider BB gun on display. I could have stood there and watched those trains for hours.

Chris

I'm glad someone knows where those stores were.     I grew up and moved and moved and didn't spend anytime in downtown Pittsburgh when I was old enough to remember locations and directions.    I do remember that Kaufmans, Gimbels, and I think Hornes were sort in a triangle relative to each other and a block or 2 apart.     I also remember walking through that Diamond Market area which was always dark and interesting but fell to remodeling and all.     

Greg Nagy posted:

As a little kid in SW PA the 70s, there was a whirlwind trip into town for shopping and trains. 

Aside from Kaufmanns and Hornes, there was a stop in SW Randalls with those funny European HO trains (Marklin) on one of the upper floors.

My dad worked in one of the Gateway Center buildings, and sometimes there would be trains in the lobby. 

Of course there was also a trip to Buhl Planetarium.

 

Wasn't Bill and Walts up by the B&O station at one point? I think that's where Santa shopped.  

Greg,

Bill & Walt's was in several different locations on Smithfield St over the years, including one just a few blocks from the B&O station. 

Bill

The second photo from Scalerail reminds me of the display the Montgomery Wards store on Monroe St. in Baltimore MD used to set up in the 50's. Not much in the way of scenery, but it had (it seemed at the time) everything that was made that year in all the scales, including the early imports of TT. Above all of it was a man in a control tower running the whole works - it had to be the best job in the world!

Kennilworth Bazaar in Towson still does a large display every Christmas

Baltimore was also famous for all the displays in many of the Fire Stations. The Wise St. Station has had one every year to this day.

I think many of us of that generation had our first dreams of one day having a layout "just like that, only bigger!" It only took me 66 years to finally have mine.

 

"You have to grow old. You don't have to grow up". Ray Bradbury

bc6ca63a27e34cc129e68ab4a7df2aa1Paul Kallus posted:

I miss those larger-than-life department stores, too. In Philly, I remember taking the train from Trevose station to Reading Terminal, and then walking to Gimbels for their Charles Dickens Victorian display, and then to John Wanamakers for their fantastic train layout and toy department, with the grand finale being their spectacular light show. I was told at one time they had a working monorail that kids could ride in, but I don't remember that. The train layout I later learned was set up by the original Nicholaus Smith train shop.

Today, we have Boscov's - which is a nice department store with good prices and that old-time customer service...and they do setup a Dept. 56/Lemax display, and sell trains.

 

 

They did, Paul.  As a young child, I begged my parents to let me ride it.  The line was long and I think my parents were tired, but I got to ride it one time.  By the following year, I was getting too old, they said.....LOL

Dan Padova

 

"In the course of my life I have had to eat my words, and I must confess it was a wholesome diet"..........Winston Churchill

                                                                                                                                        

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By the way, in the very early '60s, Wanamaker's had an LGB display that was fully automated, using their EPL system.   

Dan Padova

 

"In the course of my life I have had to eat my words, and I must confess it was a wholesome diet"..........Winston Churchill

                                                                                                                                        

As a native new yorker, I had Macys and gimbels. With dad we would make our annual trip into the city. We would go first to lionel and get a new catalog, then up to Madison hardware to purchase a car or a trackside piece. Then onto American Flyer showroom. Then the bus ride up to 34th street. Spent lots of time watching the big layout at macys. Then over to gimbels witch did not have that much,  then the long bus ride over bridge to Sunnyside Queens. We  had a Sears and Strauss store which stocked a large amount of Lionel. And we had Sunnyside Hobbies next to the Center Theater which only had American Flyer. I am still attached to the large department stores as I collect charge coins and most are front the larger department stores (gimbles, macys, lit bros., bush & bhul, kaufmans, etc. I have over five hundred charge coins.

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