Department Stores

Chicago’s department stores played a major role in the transformation of the city’s everyday life during the early twentieth century. Dedicated to improved customer service and enticing advertising campaigns, the modern department store looked nothing like its predecessor, the dry-goods store. For the city’s better-off women, a visit to one of the city’s department stores, the largest of which lined State Street in the Loop, was much more than just a quick errand. With restaurants, beauty salons, ladies parlors, and other amenities, the stores offered women an inviting social experience that often evolved into an all-day outing. While visiting the store, women educated themselves about the latest styles and trends in apparel, cosmetics, home furnishings, and family activities. Such knowledge was crucial to their effort to demonstrate their family’s moral and social respectability through publicly displayed material possessions. Through their combined efforts, department stores and the women who shopped them helped the city’s more conservative middle-class cope with the moral anxieties and social insecurities of the increasingly unpredictable modern age.


Loop Stores
Marshall Field and CompanyMandel BrothersBoston StoreThe FairThe Hub

Neighborhood Stores
Loren MillerH. C. StruveMadigan BrothersSouth CenterBecker-RyanW.A. Wieboldt Company

Suburban Stores
Gilmore’sLord’s


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