The Tree at Macy’s

To begin the advent season, one of the things I love to do to get me into a holiday mood is visit the humongous tree in the Walnut Room at Macy’s formerly Marshal Fields, in downtown Chicago.

As children, we would all bundle up in our warmest outdoor clothes, pile in the car for the 45 minute ride to downtown Chicago to see the windows on State Street.  The best were always the Marshal Fields windows.  They told a story.  If you started at the first window and progressed through the entire length of the building which is one city block long, you were rewarded with the story for the year.  My favorite was the Nutcracker.  The tiny figurines twirled and danced to the music of Tchaikovsy’s Nutcracker Suite.  Even though half way through the windows, I was scared the battle would not turn out as I hoped, the music continued as we passed the windows only to find out that all is well in the end and Clara is saved by her Nutcracker prince.

So many memories associated with Marshal Fields building:  the clock on the corner of State Street and Randolph Street, the massive tree in the Walnut Room, the amazing Tiffany ceiling – best viewed from Women’s Lingerie on the fifth floor – I’ll write about this ceiling later in depth, the soaring ceilings in the center of the store, the live music, holiday decorations and just a general feel of good will and abundance.

While I was and will continue to be loyal to our hometown Marshal Fields that ship has sailed and since 2006 Macy’s has owned this once thriving business in the Chicago area known for quality merchandise, exemplary customer service and amazing holiday decorations and displays.

Luckily for the city of Chicago, the building that housed Marshal Fields’ flagship store and the ornate clock on the corner of this building was registered in 1978 on the National Register of Historic Places which means Macy’s cannot change too much of the exterior.

Macy’s has wisely chosen to capitalize on the love Chicago has for the institution once known as Marshal Fields by selling Marshal Fields memorabilia.  Their Christmas ornament of the clock is lovely as well as the tote bags and other items with the clock’s likeness on it like mugs, towels and t-shirts.  They willingly pass on information about Marshal Fields store through story signs in their displays as well as on their website.

As far as the overall feel of the store at the holidays, Macy’s does as good a job of decorating for Christmas as Fields ever did and the feel throughout the store is similar to what I remember when visiting the Walnut room as a child.

The tree in the Walnut room is massive, towering three stories high with so many lights and ornaments attached, it is difficult to see any pine boughs.  Surrounding the enormous tree standing on a central riser in the main area of the Walnut Room are cut-outs of well known Chicago landmarks such as the Marshal Fields building, the El – elevated trains, Hancock building, Standard Oil building, the Ferris Wheel on Navy Pier, and so many more.  Eating in the Walnut room is a real treat but expect to wait during peak times when the tree is up.

We wandered around the building window shopping, admiring the architecture, enjoying the holiday music and decorations and soaking up as much holiday spirit as we could find.   The trip this weekend did not include eating in the Walnut room as the lines were just too long but we feasted on happy holiday vibes.

This day trip to Chicago to catch some holiday spirit started my advent season perfectly.

How do you get in a holiday mood?


  1. Wonderful that the building which can evoke so many memories is still there. I have to rely on images imprinted in my mind as the two buildings which would bring back similar memories are long gone. These were a few minutes away from our ‘village’, Saltaire (within a town, now sadly submerged in the city of Bradford which then was a great place, still there but perhaps better if it were not) by trolley bus, also long gone. The two department stores were Busby’s, most memorable for a guardsmen who saluted as we pushed his belly, and Lingards, which had a fascinating network of wires along which cash went from the sales counter to a central ‘cashier’ and change came back. It was a magnet for us children.
    Then I never remember going to Leeds; now it is pretty well the only place I go although Bradford is closer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry to hear your childhood holiday memories are no longer tangible for you. It’s hard to see treasured places gone to make room for modernization. Isn’t it? Luckily for those in Chicago that loved Marshal Fields as children, Macy’s is keeping these memories alive for us and profiting from their efforts. Win – win I’d say.


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