Dayton’s decked-out for the holidays

Updated: December 2, 2017 - 11:59 am

The downtown Dayton’s department store has played a central role in the holiday traditions of many Twin Cities families for much of 20th century. The note on the back of this photograph indicates a 1960s date for this view of Dayton’s first floor; the entrance to the JB Hudson jewelry store is visible in the distance.

The 1960s was a decade of major changes Dayton’s. The company’s Southdale store opened in 1956, and by the 1960s the shopping habits of Americans were shifting to the suburbs. In an effort to bring families and shoppers into the downtown store — versus simply doing a drive-by of the elaborately decorated Nicollet Avenue store windows — Dayton’s developed increasingly elaborate interior holiday decorations as an alternative to their traditional exterior windows. In 1963, the growing décor culminated in what was to become an annually changing Christmas show hosted in the 8th-floor auditorium.

For decades, shoppers were drawn downtown to visit the 8th-floor show, perhaps supplemented with a meal at the Oak Grill on the 12th floor. But before they could make their way up to the upper floors, shoppers were enticed by the goods offered in cases like the ones shown here.

Photograph from Hennepin History Museum’s collection. Learn more about the museum and its offerings at or 870-1329.