Amazing vintage photos show what it was like to go holiday shopping in New York City 100 years ago

  • Cyber Monday was the biggest online shopping day in US history, with Americans spending an estimated $6.6 billion. 
  • But 100 years ago, locals of cities like New York would battle large crowds while shopping on busy streets. 
  • Photos pulled from the Library of Congress' archives show what it was like to shop in New York in the early 1900s. A lot has changed since then. 


This year, online shopping surged during both Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

But in the not-so-distant past, shoppers were out in droves at brick-and-mortar stores, waiting in long lines and sometimes even getting caught in all-out brawls over limited-release items. 

While the term "Black Friday" wasn't officially coined until the 1960s, when Philadelphia police used it to refer to the day after Thanksgiving, hectic holiday shopping has been around for much longer than that.

Below, 17 photos show how those living in New York City between 1900 and 1915 shopped and stocked up for the holiday season. 

18 PHOTOS
Vintage photos show shopping in New York City 100 years ago
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Vintage photos show shopping in New York City 100 years ago

Sixth Avenue was a popular destination for Christmas shoppers.

(Photo via Library of Congress)

These shoppers had on their Sunday best for the outing.

(Photo via Library of Congress)

Rocking horses, drums, and baby dolls were sold as gifts for children.

(Photo via Library of Congress)

People often shopped along 42nd Street, near Fifth Avenue.

(Photo via Library of Congress)

The sidewalks got packed.

(Photo via Library of Congress)

Women and children donated items to the Salvation Army Christmas dinner.

(Photo via Library of Congress)

More shoppers flocked the sidewalk on another corner of Sixth Avenue.

(Photo via Library of Congress)

Even in the early 1900s, storefronts decked out their windows with Christmas displays ...

(Photo via Library of Congress)

... though some were more elaborate than others.

(Photo via Library of Congress)

Men dressed as Santa stood in the streets, collecting charity donations.

(Photo via Library of Congress)

Christmas-themed postcards were sold by street vendors.

(Photo via Library of Congress)

Some cards cost only one cent.

(Photo via Library of Congress)

Toy birds were also sold on the street.

(Photo via Library of Congress)

Children would gaze and gawk at the toys.

(Photo via Library of Congress)

A Christmas tree was put up in Madison Square Park.

(Photo via Library of Congress)

Store displays caught the eyes of commuters as well.

(Photo via Library of Congress)

This store's product display caught the attention of many window shoppers.

(Photo via Library of Congress)

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SEE ALSO: I went to a mall on Black Friday — and it confirmed the holiday isn't the shopping bonanza it once was

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