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Window Shopping at McCurdy & Co.

December 4th, 2012

The McCurdy & Norwell Company department store was located at 285-291 Main Street East, at the corner of Elm Street. The display windows are crowded with goods. The store occupied several attached buildings of various heights and styles. c.1901-1913 [PHOTO: Albert R. Stone Collection]
Do you remember window shopping at the big downtown department stores? Freezing cold holiday shoppers all pressed up against the plate glass like moths to a porch light. Dreams of sugar plums and reindeer and presents under the tree were fueled by these sparkling menageries of the latest and greatest stuff. The displays themselves were an art form; and drawing people in off the street was the ultimate goal. In all but our largest metros, scenes like these have been lost as retailers gradually moved to suburban malls. Yesterday we went window shopping at the old Sibley, Lindsay & Curr Co. department store. Today let’s browse a series of pictures (also from the Rochester Public Library) documenting some of the windows at McCurdy & Co. department store in downtown Rochester more than 70 years ago…

This view shows a tree and fireplace scene with children looking up the chimney. A banner proclaims 'Christmas: Keep it Shining For All the World.' c.1940. [PHOTO: Rochester Public Library]
A tree and fireplace scene with children looking up the chimney. A banner proclaims “Christmas: Keep it Shining For All the World.” c.1940

This scene shows Santa Claus in a sleigh carrying a Tappan range. 'Six reasons why Santa delivers more Tappans.' c.1940. [PHOTO: Rochester Public Library]
This scene shows Santa Claus in a sleigh carrying a Tappan range. “Six reasons why Santa delivers more Tappans.” c.1940.

This scene shows a mannequin in an evening gown with a reindeer. c.1940. [PHOTO: Rochester Public Library]
A beautiful evening gown for a night on the town – with a reindeer. c.1940.

'The return of the hat of consequence!' This scene shows a display of hats, including one on a mannequin who is seated in front of a mirror. c.1940. [PHOTO: Rochester Public Library]
“The return of the hat of consequence!” This scene shows a display of hats, including a woman seated in front of a mirror. c.1940.

This scene shows mannequins dressed in fashionable women's clothing. c.1940. [PHOTO: Rochester Public Library]
Fashionable women’s clothing. c.1940. Not sure what the creepy painting is behind the lovely ladies.

This scene shows a group of female mannequins dressed in fashionable clothes. They are seated at a table. c.1940. [PHOTO: Rochester Public Library]
A group of women fashionably dressed and seated at a table. c.1940.

This scene was set up for Valentine's Day, and shows a Victorian era couple in a heart shape. A jewelry display is below them. c.1940. [PHOTO: Rochester Public Library]
This scene was set up for Valentine’s Day, and shows a Victorian era couple in a heart shape. A jewelry display is below them. c.1940.

This scene shows mannequins dressed up for a concert. c.1940. [PHOTO: Rochester Public Library]
Dressed up for a concert. c.1940.

'The Romantic 1889 Viennese Fashions of 'Mayerling'' This scene shows mannequins in evening gowns. c.1940. [PHOTO: Rochester Public Library]
“The Romantic 1889 Viennese Fashions of ‘Mayerling’” Evening gowns. c.1940.

'Gifts she'll love to wear!' This scene features a mannequin in a fashionable dress posed alongside of various accessories. c.1940. [PHOTO: Rochester Public Library]
“Gifts she’ll love to wear!” A fashionable dress and various accessories. c.1940.

'Salute to a citizen... The college into career girl. You'll study more today to make your place in the world of tomorrow.' This scene features a mannequin modeling career-wear for college graduates. c.1940. [PHOTO: Rochester Public Library]
“Salute to a citizen… The college into career girl. You’ll study more today to make your place in the world of tomorrow.” This scene features a young woman in career-wear for college graduates. c.1940.

This scene features mannequins in women's lingerie. c.1940. [PHOTO: Rochester Public Library]
Ooh la la… Women’s lingerie. c.1940.

'See your home of the future that you are dreaming about now.' This scene shows a family looking into the sky at a dream home. c.1940. [PHOTO: Rochester Public Library]
“See your home of the future that you are dreaming about now.” A family looking into the sky at a dream home. c.1940.

'See yourself on Metropolitan Opera Night another star... in red and white. $69.75' An evening gown. c.1940. [PHOTO: Rochester Public Library]
“See yourself on Metropolitan Opera Night another star… in red and white. $69.75″ c.1940.

'What vitamins are doing for us!' A display of vitamins for sale. c.1940. [PHOTO: Rochester Public Library]
A display of vitamins for sale. “What vitamins are doing for us!” c.1940.

This scene shows mannequins in fashionable dress in front of a mirror. c.1940. [PHOTO: Rochester Public Library]
Women fashionably dressed, in front of a mirror. c.1940.

This scene shows a display of men's Arrow shirts and neckwear. c.1940. [PHOTO: Rochester Public Library]
A display of men’s Arrow shirts and neckwear. c.1940.

This scene shows several skier mannequins amid a wintry scene. c.1940. [PHOTO: Rochester Public Library]
Several skiers amid a wintry scene. c.1940.

'Christmas, Keep it Shining for all the World.' This scene shows a child praying before a Christmas star. c.1940. [PHOTO: Rochester Public Library]
“Christmas, Keep it Shining for all the World.” A child praying before a Christmas star. c.1940.

About McCurdy & Co.
Department Store…

McCurdy & Norwell was a department store founded in 1901 by John Cooke McCurdy. It was located on the corner of Main and Elm. In 1913, it became McCurdy and Robinson, and then McCurdy & Co., Inc. in 1918. A leading department store in the Rochester area, McCurdy’s later expanded to include a number of branch stores. It was sold to May Department Stores in 1994.

Happy Holidays and Shop Local!

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