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Toyland: 1951

Toyland: 1951

December 1, 1951. "Shopping center, Great Neck, Long Island, New York. Wanamaker's. Lathrop Douglass, architect." A toy display and its audience of tots. Large-format acetate negative by Gottscho-Schleisner. View full size.


On Shorpy:
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A brief history

of the "Garden of Great Neck." Great resource on all things shopping center.

No blue jeans, no baggy pants

Everyone is well dressed even though they're just shopping; people were more formal then. I grew up on Long Island and 1951 I had just turned six. My family didn't go to Great Neck, we did our shopping in Hempstead (until Roosevelt Field opened in the later 50s).

Kid Kare

That poor little fellow on the far left in his father's arms could have been me since I was born in 1948 but that's not my father. My mother had me all "snoogled" up in a snow suit like that when the outside temperature was under 94 in the shade. Depression girls out of 1918 who had shot-up husbands out of WWII and were finally able to catch a dollar in 1951 to spend were very careful with their children.


Gottscho-Schleisner teaming up to bring the time honored photographic tradition/effect of the ghost pedestrian well into the 20th century. Yea!

FW Woolworth

Woolworth's, the 5 and dime king of the hill, has become Footlocker, just another sneaker shop.

Woolworth's and other stores

F.W. Woolworth's is of course another icon of American retailing, the first of the big discount stores and as such the predecessor of Target, K-Mart and Wal-Mart. It couldn't keep up with these newer stores and the last Woolworth's stores closed in the late 1990's. I would imagine that the Great Neck store had closed many years before that, as Great Neck is scarcely fertile soil for discount stores.

Miles Shoes was a New York chain founded in 1917. By the time of this photo it had over 100 stores in New York and surrounding states. Some time thereafter Melville Corporation (today known as CVS) acquired Miles. Melville already owned Thom McAn, which sold men's shoes, and figured that the Miles acquisition would allow the company to expand into the women's shoes market. It wasn't a successful move, and the Miles stores were gone by the 1970's.

Miller's most likely was a local business, long gone, as there's no information about it online.

Today a Waldbaum's Supermarket occupies the former Woolworth's, Miles and Miller's spaces, as well as part of the former Wanamaker's space. An upscale gym, New York Health & Racquet Club, occupied the rest of the Wanamaker's space but recently closed. Planet Fitness is trying to move in but is running into community opposition.

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