Christmas shopping, how it’s changed in New Orleans over centuries

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) - Canal Street wasn't always crawling with fast food restaurants and T-shirt shops. 175 years ago, Canal Street was well established as the best place to shop in the city.

On Christmas Eve, families would make it a tradition to go witness the splendor, the window displays at department stores, marvel in the streets at parades, and stay out all night enjoying the festivities while shopping.

The Historic New Orleans Collection will be hosting a lecture this Saturday to help you discover the way Canal Street once was.

The Land of Christmas Dreams on Canal Street:

Join historian and former THNOC curator John Magill for a look at the history of Christmas shopping on New Orleans’ historic Canal Street.

“The Land of Christmas Dreams on Canal Street”
an illustrated lecture by historian and former THNOC curator John Magill
Saturday, December 3 • 10:30 a.m.
533 Royal Street
Admission is free. Reservations: or (504) 523-4662

From the 1850s through its 20th-century heyday and to the present, Magill will take attendees on a nostalgic trip down the famous thoroughfare. The illustrated presentation will examine variety and department stores—including D. H. Holmes and Maison Blanche—local retailers such as Adler’s and Rubenstein’s and the holiday decorations that lined the famous shopping street. Markets, Santa Claus, elves, the coming of Christmas trees to the United States and the ever-popular Mr. Bingle will all be discussed.

This lecture is presented in conjunction with THNOC’s free exhibition Goods of Every Description: Shopping in New Orleans, 1825–1925, which will be open before and after the presentation. This program is free and open to the public. Reservations are recommended and can be made by emailing or calling (504) 523-4662.