By J. Bruce Richardson, Corridor Rail Development Corporation; November 29, 2022
People who are in the know are aware that the Christmas retail and celebrating season officially began on Thanksgiving Day when Santa Claus in his sleigh was – as is traditional – the last float in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. This must be true because in 1947 20th Century-Fox released Miracle on 34th Street in movie theaters, and it went on to win three Academy Awards. The movie starred Maureen O’Hara, John Payne, a venerable Edmund Gwenn (who won an Academy Award for his presentation of Santa Claus) and a very young and precocious Natalie Wood. Even though today’s Macy’s locations around the country have been decorated for Christmas for weeks now, at least now that Thanksgiving weekend is over, it really is the Christmas season.
Passenger trains and the Christmas holiday season have always been closely intertwined. Today’s Amtrak is no exception. Below are images of the Christmas season as presented by Amtrak as well as a series of Christmas season travel ads in mid-century magazines and newspapers presented by Amtrak’s ancestor passenger railroads. The series of ads range from 1946 to 1957 and are from the collection of the Duke University Library Repository Collections and Archives.
When railroads and their passenger trains competed seriously for passengers, the early advertising and marketing departments were critical elements of the company. Enjoy the mid-century creativity.
Note: Be sure and read the last entry at the conclusion of this article. It’s fascinating.