On Dec. 19, 1958, Bloomington Mayor Robert McGraw threw a ceremonial switch to light about half of the 65 new mercury vapor streetlamps along a stretch of Main Street from Walnut Street south to MacArthur Avenue. Seen here is the 500 block of North Main Street looking south. This block was once “furniture row” with Leath & Co. visible on the right
Back in December 1934, the Bloomington Association of Commerce (now the McLean County Chamber of Commerce) staged a “corny” promotion to boost downtown holiday retail sales. The approximately 58-by-13 inch glass container shown here was filled with two bushels of shelled corn. With every downtown retail purchase of 25 cents or more, Bloomington shoppers would receive a slip of paper to write down their guess, with the closest to the correct total receiving a $200 cash prize. Remarkably, four area residents correctly guessed that there were 212,792 grains in this container!
From the 1940s to the mid-1970s, A. Livingston & Sons in downtown Bloomington hoisted two giants Santas onto its overhang for the holiday season. The two identical Santas (only one is shown here) were about 13 feet in height and likely made of some early plastic or fiberglass material. Livingston’s was a locally owned department store on the south side of the Courthouse Square.
We’re not sure this photograph was taken on a “Black Friday” sometime in the 1930s, but it sure looks like it! Seen here is an undated photograph of the main floor of the locally owned department store, A. Livingston & Sons, during a Christmas season in the 1930s. Livingston’s, located on the south side of the Courthouse Square, closed in 1979.
On November 10, 1966, JCPenney moved into the still under-construction Eastland Shopping Center on what was then the far eastern edge of Bloomington. Eastland Mall would officially open its doors three months later, February 16, 1967, though Penney’s and other retailers, such as Sears, Roebuck and Co., were already doing business there.
In the first half of the 20th century Lilly Orchard, located some sixteen miles west of the Twin Cities, was one of the more popular area destinations during the crisp fall days of September and October. Seen in this early October 1950 photograph are Orin White, Lilly Orchard manager, and two young customers enjoying the locally grown product.
Seen here is the northeast corner of East and Market streets in downtown Bloomington, late 1935 or early 1936. Keiser-Van Leer Co., a mechanical contractor and hardware dealer, was preparing to demolish the two-story buildings in the foreground (both the wood frame and brick structures) to make way for a two-story Streamline Moderne addition.
The Coachman Motel opened on January 30, 1961, at 406 E. Washington St., on the eastern edge of downtown Bloomington.