Christmas on Broad Street in St. Paul, 1961

This really isn’t an article – it’s just an extra-long caption for a very special ca. 1961 photograph of Broad Street.  The photo was taken by Peyton Russo from the upstairs porch of the St. Paul Hotel.  Notice the garlands of lights over the street and those well-remembered red Christmas bells in the middle.  All the shoppers had gone home for the day because stores closed at 6:00 p.m. back then.  Take a look at the signs on the store buildings and you’ll see familiar names:  B & G Appliance, Fred Meade’s Market, Halls Drugstore, Jessee’s 5 & 10, Deen’s Department Store, and the Phillips Building [formerly the Cavalier Theatre].


There was no national chain superstores to beckon us in 1961; no malls at Bristol or Kingsport.  Mass prosperity and commercial television had not yet elevated shopping to the level of recreation at that time.  Christmas was simpler and more family-oriented.  In retrospect, that may well have been one of the most charming things about the St. Paul of yesteryear.

In the 1960’s there was an animated television special entitled “Mr. Magoo’s Christmas” which featured a song some of us grown-up children still remember.  One of the verses is very applicable to St. Paul, both then and now:

And at the end, Tiny Tim said:

“God bless us every one.”

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