What Is Christmas Without the Department Store?

Robert David Sullivan writes that the Main Street America department store is a holiday tradition, a grand public crossroads for celebrating the season.

Sullivan explains that department stores were always a rocky business for profitability, but they were central to public life in most towns, particularly at the holidays:

"[T]here was something about the downtown department store that can't be captured at a mall, let alone a website. It functioned as a crossroads of urban life, a quasi-public space that blurred class divisions and proudly saw itself as part of the city around it. The downtown department store strove to be a civic institution as grand and as original as an art museum or public library - an ambition hard to detect in their latter-day descendants at the malls or the chain discount stores that now drive holiday retailing."

Thanks to Robert David Sullivan

Full Story: What Is Christmas Without the Department Store?

Comments

Prepare for the AICP Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $199
Planetizen Courses image ad

Planetizen Courses

Advance your career with subscription-based online courses tailored to the urban planning professional.
Starting at $14.95 a month
Book cover of Unsprawl

Unsprawl: Remixing Spaces as Places

Explore visionary, controversial and ultimately successful strategies for building people-centered places.
Starting at $12.95

Stay thirsty, urbanists

These sturdy water bottles are eco-friendly and perfect for urbanists on the go.
$19.00