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November 30, 2012
Now This Is Online Shopping
Holiday Heyday

In their heyday after World War II, big downtown department stores in each of Ohio’s major cities were centers of the holiday shopping universe. In fact, from Thanksgiving to Christmas, most seemed to enjoy some special tie to the North Pole.

In “Hustle and Bustle: A Look Back at the Magic of Downtown Holiday Shopping” in the December 2012 issue of Columbus Monthly magazine, author Ben Zenitsky captures some central Ohioans’ personal memories of shopping various downtown Columbus stores during the holidays, plus photos, including two from the Ohio History Connection’s Lazarus Family Collection. Find the story in the December issue of Columbus Monthly, on central Ohio newsstands now.

Santa’s Christmas Circus

Below, via the wonder of the Internet and more photos from our Lazarus Family Collection, take a virtual trip to the flagship Lazarus store in downtown Columbus as it looked in the 1950s and 1960s. See Santa’s Christmas Circus and other animated window displays, visit the toy department and Secret Gift Shop and have lunch in the Colonial Room, Buckeye Room or Chintz Room. (How many in your party? One? Two? Three or More?…)

Whether this is your first visit to a big downtown store of the pre-Big Box, pre-online-shopping era, or you have holiday memories of Lazarus or its counterparts in Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo, Youngstown or elsewhere, we hope you’ll enjoy this virtual After Thanksgiving (as it was called before Black Friday and Cyber Monday came along) trip downtown.

Thanks to the Lazarus Family Collection

Thanks to the Ohio History Connection’s Lazarus Family Collection, source of these wonderful photos. Santa must have been supervising production at the North Pole when they were taken (or maybe he was the photographer?), as we have no photos of Santa himself, though you’ll meet Robert Lazarus Sr. in the fifth floor Buckeye Room.

Click on each of the images below to view them full size with captions.

Photo of a crowd of holiday shoppers gathered on the sidewalk in front of Lazarus at Town and High streets in downtown Columbus to see the animated window display ‘Santa's Christmas Circus’ circa 1950-1959. Photo of the animated display ‘Santa’s Christmas Circus’ in the Town and High window at Lazarus in downtown Columbus circa 1950-1959. Photo of the holiday window display ‘Christmas Village’ at Lazarus in downtown Columbus, 1958. Photo of the window display ‘Alice's Tea Party’ at Lazarus in downtown Columbus circa 1950-1959. Photo of an animated window display at Lazarus in downtown Columbus, 1966. Photo of the animated window display ‘Christmas at Grandma's’ at Lazarus in downtown Columbus, 1969. Photo of shoppers admiring a model railroad layout in the Lazarus toy department circa 1950. Photo of a boy with a model plane in the Lazarus toy department circa 1950-1959. Photo of two children with a sales associate in the Lazarus Secret Gift Shop, 1957. Photo of the first floor Colonial Room at Lazarus in downtown Columbus, circa 1950-1955. Photo of Robert Lazarus Sr. in the fifth floor Buckeye Room circa 1965. Photo of the fifth floor Chintz Room at Lazarus in downtown Columbus, 1953 Photo of the Lazarus store in downtown Columbus decorated for the holidays circa 1955, as seen from S. High St. looking south. Photo showing the tree of lights atop the Lazarus store in downtown Columbus as seen from S. High St. looking north circa 1965.


Explore More

Find many more Lazarus photos online in the Ohio Memory digital library, a collaborative project of the Ohio History Connection and the State Library of Ohio. Click here to visit the Ohio Memory home page. From the drop-down menu under “Explore a Collection” at top left, choose “OHS Selections,” then click on “Go.” Then, under “Search” at the top of the OHS Selections page, enter “Lazarus” and click on “Search.”

Visit In Person and See the Real Thing

To see the real Lazarus photos, visit the third floor research room at the Ohio History Center in Columbus and ask at the desk in front of the big “Explore” sign about collection number P 311, the Lazarus Family Collection. We’ll help you figure out which items you’d like to see (it’s a big collection), then retrieve them from storage for you so you can look them over at your leisure in the research room. Please plan to allow at least a couple of hours from start to finish. Our research room is open Wednesdays-Saturdays 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Questions? E-mail reference@ohiohistory.org or call 614.297.2510