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Originally Posted by rrman:
Originally Posted by jim sutter:

My mother and father always took me to Pittsburgh to see the train layouts at Gimbel's, Kaufman's and Horne's. Also, they would take me to the Penn Traffic dept. store in Johnstown to see their train layouts. Christmas, what a wonderful time of the year.

Dang Jim, ya beat me to it!!  Yep the BIG THREE, Kaufman's, Joesph Horne, Gimbel's.  I also think Boggs & Buhl had trains but it burned down rather spectacularly as I recall as a wee lad.  Then there was Bill & Walt's Hobbies, though they did not have a layout as I recall.  Dad always got Lionel through Doubleday-Hill Company, an electrical supply house  that sold and repaired Lionel but had no storefront.


Still have every Lionel train and accessory I received growing up (and their pristine boxes).

Jimmy & Sam:


I may have been standing next to you guys looking in those windows back then.  My fondest memory is of the disappearing train layout in Kaufmann’s window in 1950 which had a 2035 pulling a string of Lionel Scout gondolas into that very short tunnel and not coming back out for 5 or 10 seconds.  And their in-store layouts were fantastic. 


Besides the downtown department stores, many neighborhood hardware stores had layouts in their windows at Christmas time.  I remember that Burns Hardware on Brownsville Road in Carrick sold Lionel Trains during the Holidays and they had a small layout in their storefront window which I walked past everyday on my way to and from grade school.  And Hazelbart’s Hardware across the street sold American Flyer trains during the holidays.



I will never forget back in the 1950's when my best friend and I would walk over the 59 ST bridge from Queens to Bloomingdale's a few days after Thanksgiving.

We would take the elevator up to the TOY department and stay there for hours at a time. They had really big layouts with both the Lionel and American Flyer trains running. My dream was watching the Santa Fe F'3s, Oh how I wanted a set under the tree.

After Bloomingdale's we would walk down town to the Lionel showroom, then over to American Flyer and then I believe Polk hobby store or whatever the name was. This was the high light of our train days in the 50's.

I remember the  layouts, and the crowds were everywhere we went. I remember how I liked the Flyer showroom train layouts so much better than the Lionel ones because they had 2 rail, but I was locked into Lionel.

After that we made our way to the Hobby store, I should say building. I can recall taking the elevator up to the 3rd floor, that's where the trains were. They always had a few layouts running. We never bought anything because we only had the 10 cense and we needed  that so we can take the trolley back over the bridge home .

Two days after Christmas my Mother gave me a note and her Bloomingdale credit card saying I could spend no more $20.00 on trains (she also called the store just to make sure). This was when all the train related stuff was discounted.

I can't remember everything I purchased but I do remember getting the operating Saw Mill one year. I also remember the trailer loader with the flat car that had the trailers on it. But the best was the number 50 trolley.

You know one thing about being young back in the 50's was how much little things meant to me.  We did not have a lot of money, but every Christmas there was always something Lionel under the tree.

Going to bed with the Lionel catalog, wishing for the Santa Fe F 3's that never happened. But I was always happy with everything Lionel I got, and  I still have some of them.

Christmas in New York was something special and thank God I can still remember those days, when my best friend and I would spend the whole day having the time of our life.


Rich in NH


PS I now have two sets of Santa Fe F 3's

For us growing up in Central Jersey in the early 60s it was Arcadia Gardens in Woodbridge. They were a seasonal store that became all Christmas after Halloween. I remember it as mostly Lionel but I believe there was some Flyer too.
Montgomery Wards also had some layouts. Those were some great days.

One thought: almost everyone here that enjoys trains now was exposed to them as a child when we were younger. What are today's kids exposed to? And what are they going to seek out when they get older? They are constantly bombarded with ads and displays for iPhones, video games, etc. Maybe a little more exposure to trains would help?


I never see anybody from Chicago post anything. That being said I can remember taking the EL( North South Line) with my mother and walking down State St looking at all the Department Stores windows. Marshal Fields had the best window displays with trains in both the Randolph & State and Washington & State windows. Marshal Fields on the fourth Floor had a Toy department from **** and during the holidays had Train layouts running. After dreaming on the fourth Floor for an hour or so, she would take me to the Walnut Room to eat. This is where Fields had their Christmas tree that was 5 floors high. One year early 70s I was there to see the tree being topped. My father was one of the head electricians and his crew was responsible for the tree set up. My father for years had been the one to put the final ornament on the top of the tree and I got to see him do it. That was a great year.

Bigkid, I agree with you 100%: children are born with an innate sense of wonder and imagination and it is we adults who drive it out of them. They have the same capabilities that we were born with; if those capabilities are lacking when they grow up we have ONLY ourselves to blame. Praise to those parents and teachers and others who nurture imagination and creativity in children today. They are fighting a tough battle and deserve our support.

Originally Posted by MartyE:

Jeez we just sure don't know how to do Christmas anymore.

Because we have driven department stores out of business with the Targets, Walley Worlds, Amazon etc in pursuit of ever lower prices over personal service and things like toylands that inspire imagination.

Going back into my 1950s cave now.

I vaguely remember the last years of Altman's holiday train display in the store (one of the magazines, maybe CTT, did a feature on it), sometime in the latter 60's, I also vaguely recall a layout at holiday time in NYC that may have been the old Gilbert Hall of Science...I don't recall any other really big displays in the stores, Macy's in recent years has had one in their Santaland, but nothing like the big store window displays, I suspect I am too young to have really seen that in the area I live in (did those displays last longer in other areas, or did they all die out by the late 50's?). 

Sibley's, in downtown Rochester NY, used to have a great Toyland on the 4th floor with lots of Lionel and AF trains.  You stood in line for maybe 20 minutes to get in there, but to a kid it seemed like 8 hours.  It was always something special each year to take a bus ride down there with your mother or grandmother and go through the Magic Corridor display.  That was the mid to late 50s timeframe for me. Great memories!  Later on, with our own kids, you could combine Toyland with a ride on the monorail in Midtown Plaza, the first indoor urban mall in the US. Sibley's is now a community college, and Midtown Plaza was closed in 2008.

Photos of the Lionel and American Flyer layouts at Marshall Field's in Chicago are either non-existent or haven't been put up on the internet yet. Apparently the same goes for the other department store trains in Chicago's "Loop" downtown area.  My Mom used to indulge me with a holiday season tour of all the toy departments and Field's train department was the best - not just at Christmas but year 'round. I remember Carson Pirie Scott, Wieboldt's, and Mandel Bros. also had trains but we're going back to the Eisenhower era here and I don't remember much about their set-ups.

Originally Posted by Dave Warburton:

Mack, I too was born and raised in Cleveland. Back in the 1950s and early  60s, it was a thrill to travel downtown to see the Christmas toy departments at the department stores you mentioned (and the spectacular and huge Sterling Linder tree). May Company also had a fun toy department back then, and the Hobby House was train central downtown on Huron Road at E. 9th Street.


I especially liked going down to the department stores just after Christmas where a boy could spend his Christmas money from relatives and get trains and other neat stuff at closeout prices. Picked up a fabulous chemistry set that way using my mom's green stamps (which May Co. accepted).


My Lionel train set (1955) came from Jaye and Jaye Hobby on Lee Road at Euclid (I think). Oh, how I fondly remember the pre-Christmas atmosphere there on a frosty Cleveland night, going in the back to see the layout run and then deciding on what Lionel item I would point out to my Dad as a possible Christmas gift. What fun days those were.

Those were fun!  I remember Nobby Hobby Shop at E103 and Union and also Sparks Hobby at E131 and Miles.  No giant display layouts but fun just the same.


Halle Brothers in Cleveland had a huge Super O display in 1958.  Wish I had pictures.


And just for the record, Jaye and Jaye was on Ivanhoe off Euclid.


One year Hobby House had a display layout in the store; a 10 x 11 foot layout with a circle each of O scale, s gauge, and HO.


I only wish when Christmas Story was shot in Cleveland that some of the indoor display layout had made it into the movie.




Lou N

Originally Posted by John23:
Originally Posted by Mill City:
Originally Posted by suzukovich:
Jon. Where are the pics. Ah yes its Halloween,  gost pics!

Strange, I don't know, they show-up for me. How many are missing?

None of this last bunch showed up for me either.

Ghost pics, indeed. Thanks, John. I tried reloading them, but apparently, they're still invisible. I'll try again. Any other pics further back?

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