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Don Boyd | all galleries >> Memories of Old Hialeah, Old Miami and Old South Florida Photo Galleries - largest non-Facebook collection on the internet >> DOWNTOWN Miami, Bayfront Park and Port of Miami Historical Photos Gallery - All Years - click on image to view > 1950's - the Santa display on the Burdine's downtown Miami connection
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1950s - the Santa display on the Burdines downtown Miami connection

1950's - the Santa display on the Burdine's downtown Miami connection

Downtown Miami, FL

For the Christmas holidays Burdine's also had a nifty toy section located on the west side of this customer connection over S. Miami Avenue. A very old Burdine's advertisement is located at:

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Richard 11-Aug-2016 10:45
They also had items you could not find any where else. I was six years old and in the special toy store there was a display of German made steam engines and there was a salesman who kept one running and that year Santa brought me one! In 1960 I came across a Hoffman solar powered transistor radio but back then $99.95 was a lot of money, I must have been a very good boy that year. I still have both items and they still work. The steam engine comes out every Christmas and the Hoffman stays on the shelf, I play it every few months. It was a great time in my life.
CarolH 12-Feb-2013 23:46
Owners of the historic property where Macy’s department store is located in downtown Miami have sold it for $15.55 million – or $322.26 per square foot – to New York-based Aetna Realty Group. I'm so sad. I was born and raised in Miami I have so many good memories. Sitting on santa's lap at Christmas time, The great toy store, riding the rides on the roof. Going to lunch in the tea room with my mom and grandmother and ordering the snow princess for dessert. How excited we got when we saw the santa on the bridge.
Michael Morrison 12-Jan-2013 17:59
My Sister (Linda) said it well. What great rides, and to see Santa on the crossover was a HOOT! Magical memories indeed. I would not trade my childhood memories for anyone elses.
Linda Boutin 11-Jan-2013 17:14
Great Picture!! I was born (1952) & raised in Miami & then moved to Calif in 1972. I loved it when my parents took us to see the huge Santa on the crossover and ride the rides on the Burdines roof! I shared this link w/my 91 yr old 'Native Miami' Mom who still lives in Miami and it brought back a fond memory for her..........she told me when she worked at Burdines in 1939/40 on the Mezzanine of the original Burdines bldg before the crossover was built (next to the gift wrap area), an organist came each afternoon and evening and played Christmas Carols on the organ. My Mom said she and her co-workers felt so privileged to be able to see and hear the organist every day. She said the name of the organist was Isabel Schafer (sp?). I told my Mom this was worthy of a post so here it is :-)

Ted Baida 14-Jan-2012 06:59
I was 6 years old in 1950 and that's about the time I first sat on Santa's lap on the crossover. I will be donating a photo to Don's site of Burdine's and the crossover under new construction (from a similar view) in 1949.
Don Boyd13-Jan-2012 04:20
Guest of January 13th: wow, thank you for really bringing back the fond memories of the downtown Burdine's. I too rode the rides on the roof and thought their toy department was superb from age 5 to 12 or so. You said it very well about the change in department stores and you're right about kids today not having fond memories of department stores from their youth many years from now. We grew up at a great time to live and I really relish those memories.

Guest 13-Jan-2012 04:11
I grew up in South Florida during the 50'a and 60's (West Palm, then Miami) and shopping at Burdine's is one of my best memories. We were all pretty tall in my family, and my mother insisted that Burdine's was the only store that had 'clothes that fit'. I suspect, however, that part of her preference for Burdine's was due to the fact that it was THE place for women's clothing ("you'll never see any tacky-looking stuff at Burdine's" was a phrase I often heard). Of course, I could have cared less about the clothes I liked Burdine's because they had the coolest toy department around, plus a
Boy Scout store. At Christmas time it only got better. The rides on the roof were icing on the cake for us kids, and they were a good sales strategy, too. They drew the kids away from the toy department long enough for their parents to shop for Christmas toys. My favorite ride was the roller-coaster. It had less than 100 feet of track and the tallest drop couldn't have been more than 6-8 feet,
but it was enough to scare me to death, especially at night. No matter, as soon as the ride was over, I got right back in line. Couldn't get enough of it. Burdine's, like most stores of that time, had a lunch counter or small restaurant inside and I remember one of them had an elaborate soda fountain. Does anyone remember which store it was in?
Fast-forward 40 years: I live in Tallahassee now, and Federated opened a so-called "Burdine's" at a local mall
shortly before they started homogenizing all of their stores into the "Macy's" brand.
I went in there once with my kids. They still had nice clothes, but of course, there were no rides, no lunch counter, no Santa, and the toy department was practically nonexistent (I even saw some "tacky-looking stuff"). That's the way it is with a lot of department stores these days. They're usually located in malls and have to compete with each other and the various specialty shops. As a result, they only handle the high-volume, high-profit items end up being kinda boring. I don't think my kids will have fond memories of any department store 40 years from now like I did . Sad.
Bill Fuller 10-Nov-2011 03:14
Does anyone have photos of the amusement rides, or the rooftop setup?
Guest 26-Jul-2011 00:50
I remember visiting my Aunt, Floy Tipps, that worked in the cosmetics department and her showing me around the store. I was a country bumpkin from Tennessee and it was the first time I had visited Miami. She told me stories and showed me pictures of all the movie stars that had visited the store and it was her first and only employer as she left the Tennessee farm for Miami in the 1920's on a train with two other teenagers(she was age 19) and they came back but she stayed. It was a marvelous store and I was always going to come back but her death in 1978 ended that. I remember her telling me that it was very dangerous for me to be walking around outside the store-not like it was in the early years. She always worked in cosmetics and would bring samples home for my Mother and other relatives each year and she always looked 20 years younger than she actually was. She never had a desire to leave Burdine's and considered it to be her home. She resided in The Towers Apartrments while she was in Miami. She never owned a house or a car. The next time I visit Miami, I am going by this location to see what it looks like now.
alissa 09-Jul-2011 18:46
How nice to see these old pictures and remember how nice Miami used to be. It's NOT nice now no matter how hard advertising and "the powers that be" try to make it out to be. The hometown feeling is long gone but glad this site has the photos so people who aren't from here can actually know and believe that at one time it was a nice place to live. Glad I moved away.
Jeannie 02-Jun-2011 01:26
I can't believe I found this site....I was just telling my husband about the amusement park on the roof the other day. He is from Iowa and I from Miami so our lives were very different. I remember my aunt taking my sisters and I to have our photo made with Santa and then going on the rides. We were so excited!!! And, yes, we did ride the bus downtown. What a happy memory.
Guest Dayle Harrison Jacob 28-Mar-2011 18:55
Don, You are the best! I was born in Miami and we went to Burdines every Christmas to have pur pictures taken with Santa. They would give each child a paper tube decorated with shiny Christmas paper stripes and a balloon attached at one end, You could blow up the balloon and a device inside the tube would allow it to hold air for a little while. Still have many of my Santa photos but no balloons!
Michael Montano 24-Feb-2011 04:33
I keep telling my friends at work that Burdines had rides on the roof and no one remembers. I was born in Miami in 1956 in a small clinic Dr. Derry on the corner of SW 17th Ave. And 8th Street ( the old Firestone tire store). I have fond memories of taking the bus with my mother and brother to Burdines during the holidays, in the early 60's, eating at the Canton Chinese restaurant, going to Bayfront Park and buying peanuts to feed the pigeons. I still live in Miami and work Downtown.
Mike Medrano 21-Feb-2011 00:01
I will never forget the thrill of going up to the Burdine's roof during the Christmas (am I allowed to use that word?) season with my family in the early '60s to meet Santa. I swore he was THE real one.
If I remember, they also had carnival rides up there.
Man, I miss the OLD Miami. That's why I moved out of there.
Guest 05-Feb-2011 17:33
My dad worked in the Display Department of the Downtown store of Burdines from 1948 until the 1970's when he went to the 163rd Street store until he retirned in the early 80's. When I was a little girl my Mom and I would get on a bus from North Miami and head downtown to meet my Dad for lunch. I would get to go down to the basement where the Display department was and get my Dad. What wonderful sights down there, especially the Christmas displays that would be put up that year. Of course, the tea room for the dessert was absolutely the best. Thanks for the memories
Nancy 18-Sep-2010 02:15
I actually have one of those Snow Princesses sitting in front of me. I wonder how many are left and what it's value would be.
Guest 19-Jul-2010 15:55
Does anyone know where I can find one of the snow princess figurines from the tea room dessert. I can seem to find any online.
marian sperber 03-May-2010 09:36
This is the exact view of the Santa I had from the Rice Hotel ...where we lived on & off from 1946 - 1956.....Mom used to tell me they put Santa up for me because my birthday's on Christmas....Those were the great days ever.....It was so beautiful...
Janie 28-Mar-2010 22:47
My grandmother, Nell Tarilton, was the matron model for many years at the Burdine's Tea Room, What great memories I have of her walking through the room, and coming by our table to smile grandly at Mom (her daughter), my sister and me. The afternoon was only complete once we went "backstage" to the models' dressing room to say goodbye to Grandma before heading back to our home in the Gables. At my tender age at the time, though, I must say that having the Snow Princess for dessert was as exciting as watching Grandma strut her stuff. Janie
Nicky 31-Aug-2009 05:15
Burdines built the crossover simply because they hired my Grandfather Giovanni Carpinelli as their in house tailor. His shop was upstairs across the street so they decided to put the crossover in. I'll have to ask the last surviving sibling (my Mother's sister) exactly when it was built.
Don Boyd30-Aug-2009 17:30
Ben, welcome and thank you for your comments and memories. There is a photo of the old Chesapeake Restaurant in the Restaurants Gallery before New England Oyster House took it over and ruined it.

Ben Godwin 30-Aug-2009 17:06
Don...this is a GREAT website you've created. I really enjoy viewing all the images and reading all the postings. I'm a Miami native and was raised in SW Miami during the '50s and '60s. My great uncle was the Miami PD's very first motorcycle "Roadsman" around 1918.

The rides at Burdines were atop the building, including a small Ferris Wheel. I always wondered how they managed to get it up there. I once was stuck at the top of "The Wheel" and it scared me so much I would NOT ride a Ferris Wheel again until MANY years later. They also had a great Christmas display at the Holsum Bakery (S Dixie Hwy) that we always looked forward to.

BTW - Does anyone remember the Chesapeake seafood restaurant out near the airport? I guess its long since gone although the wonderful memories still live on.
DEBBIE 27-Jul-2009 00:37
Brian Rueger 21-Jun-2009 20:16
My parents put me on the roller coaster that was on the roof. I don't remember how old I was, but I was probably under 10. I didn't ride a roller coaster until around 1975!!
Alb 12-May-2009 18:46
I remember the rides on top of Burdines in the 50s' and 60s' and also Santa. I discovered batter dipped hot dogs there. I went on the Ferris Wheel not realizing what a great height I was at until I looked down from the top of the wheel to the street below. That was the last Ferris Wheel I ever went on. And then waiting for the Tigertail ( #2 ) bus behind Woolworths to get home. I still think about the good times there.
Rachelle S. F. 11-Feb-2009 07:18
I worked as a contingent sales person at this store during Miami High School Christmas break in 1958, 1959, and for a while in 1960 after graduation. I loved it and put a lot of clothes in lay-a-way. I loved the cotton candy at Christmas time when the rides were on the roof at the right side across the bridge. There was a corner shoe store in the right side building, ground floor, that had the best prices for shoes; shopped there a lot also! Needless to say, Burdines spoiled me for life; I was a clothes horse until I retired in 2001.

My girl friend's mom was the ticket clerk at the Paramount theater up the street on the left side of Flagler St., towards Biscayne Blvd. We got free tickets for several theaters and saw all the movies.
Lowell Conlan 09-Dec-2008 22:50
Lowell Conlan
Does anyone remember eating at the Hole IN THE Wall just down the street on Flagler. It was so small that the food was delivered via conveyor belt
Don Boyd08-Dec-2008 05:00
I remember amusement park-type rides up there but I thought they were on top of the building on the right and not on the bridge itself. You had to walk across the top of the bridge to get to the rides. Anyone else?

Mike 07-Dec-2008 22:11
Does anyone else remember the amusement rides they had on top of the bridge?
Lee Martines19-Jun-2008 03:14
I remember Burdines in the forties when they used pneumatic tubes like the bank drive-thrus use today to forward your cash upstairs and then to return your receipt. During the Christmas season of 1954 the store had color TV sets placed high on the pillars all throughout the store. For some, this was the first time they had seen television broadcasts in color.
Jo-Anne K 31-Jan-2008 14:46
I still have my princess doll from the cake! Great memories!
Ray23-Oct-2007 03:49
One big difference between Christmas back then and now... back then it didn't start in the stores in September!
Juan R. Pollo 13-Oct-2007 14:05
As recently as 1982, Burdines still kept some semblance of Christmases past. I worked at the downtown executive offices during the 82 Christmas season and remember a life-size reindeer display by the elevators, which is now history.

I think Christmas season was simply more special back then. There is a movie called "A Christmas Story" which, even though it takes place in the 40s, reminds me of the way things were when I grew up. Back in Havana, BC (before Castro) we had similar decorations and displays in the downtown stores, with kids coming from all over to see the latest toys in store windows. And we enjoyed a couple of weeks more of holidays, because toys were brought by the 3 Kings on January 6, so our Christmas season really lasted twelve days until then. A few kids got toys from both Santa Claus and the 3 kings.
Carol Fornel Kaplan 12-Oct-2007 16:08
What great memories. My Mother worked at Richard's Department store (the one with the "Bargain Basement" where she actually worked) and my aunt was a buyer at Richards. My aunt took me to the tea room in Burdines for my birthday and I still remember the ice cream cake with the princess doll on top. Downtown Miami was a magical place during the holidays. I lived in Allapattah and took bus #23 to town. Of course, we always dressed up to go to town. Actually, my dad was born in Miami in 1906. His family owned a hotel at 36th street and Biscayne Boulevard. I'm a real live native...
miamigrl07-Oct-2007 23:29
In 1954 I was 8 years old and we were living in an apartment on (what it was called then) 8th St. while waiting for our house in Cutler Ridge to be built. My Mom had a part time job at Burdines, I remember well those wonderful rooftop rides and Santa. Once I had Mom hold my cotton candy while I went on a ride, when I got back all she had was the paper cone -- the wind had blown it all away! At least that was her story and she was stickin' to it! My sister worked at the Sears candy counter in Coral Gables - great place for a big sister to work! Those were the days. Thanks Don for helping these memories come back
Don Boyd06-Oct-2007 02:48
Woolworth's just called and they want me to track down you down from your posting so they can send you an invoice for the shoplifted goods plus 40 years worth of interest. The total is now about what you could buy a house for in 1957 (very low 5 figures). Haha. Don
Guest 06-Oct-2007 02:42
My Mom and I would catch the bus on 36th st. and ride it downtown. Then later my girlfriend and I would catch the 36th st bus to go downtown and shoplift at Woolworths !! LOL LOL LOL
We were bad!!
Guest Mary 05-Aug-2007 19:36
I remember hearing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer for the first time (around 1949) as my mother and I walked over the cross walk to the other side of the street at Burdine's at Christmas time.
J 16-Jul-2007 23:17
This does bring back the memories. My Mom, sister (born in 43) and I (born in 47) would take bus 13 from Hialeah and go to Burdines for Christmas shoping. We would go to the Hibiscus Room Restaurant and have lunch. We always were allowed to get the ice cream cake which had a small little priness doll on top. Then we would go and see Santa and visit the rides on the roof. One week later we would take the same bus and stake out a spot on the Orange Bowl parade route sittig for hours before the parade would start. Later on when we were around 14 to 15 we actually would go with friends. (No parents at that time). My greatest memory was being in the Orange Bowl parade my senior year at Hialeah High ( the great Thoroughbreds Band) in 1965. By the time my own children were old enouth to do this we had moved to North Ga. Thanks Don for putting all this together, our class of 65 really was the greatest. Jennie
Jeanne 29-Jun-2007 17:13
This is the absolute best grandmother and I would get on the bus and ride the six miles into town and go Christmas Shopping at Burdines. I remember sitting on Santa's lap and telling him my Christmas wish...Thanks for the memory!
Wendy L. Hutchinson 21-Jun-2007 21:03
My Absolute favorite time was to travel on the Bus from North Miami with my Grandmother and have Lunch at the Tee Room on the Top of Burdines. Afterwords we would go to the roof and I got to ride the amusments. It was so wonderful and I have such fond memories of the entire time. Often if time permitted we went to bay front park and feed the birds.
Mary E. pent 12-Jun-2007 20:44
I worked at Burdines in 1945, 46 and 47. I was a 'gift wrapper', then after Christmas of 1945, I became a relief cashier. All over the store, in all departments. That was before the other part of the store was built on the west side, and the bridge was built. Remember the mezzanine, where the opital shop was located. That's where I got my first pair of glasses, using my employee's discount of course. You sure bring back the memories. Thanks.
Peggy C. 05-Jun-2007 00:02
Oh my gosh - somebody else remembers the amusement park on top of the roof. I often tell co-workers about that and they can not believe it. Does anyone remember the large bell with the big doll rocking back and forth in the Sears Bldg. downtown???? I was borned and raised in Hialeah in 1953 and now reside in Deland Florida. But I have so many fond memories of the area.
Guest 25-May-2007 23:40
Anybody else remember amusement rides on the roof? How did they get those up there?
Burl Grey 24-May-2007 00:55
Burdines had an escalator which I rode in my bare feet and they ran me off!
I'm guessing it must have been around 1936 when I was 12 and hung out at my father's sign shop on NW 3rd Street, about a block West of Miami Avenue.
I also played around the railroad tracks just a block or two farther West of there. I remember an engineer inviting me to ride with him as he moved some railroad cars around the yards there. Those giant steam engines huffing and puffing as they started their trip North were thrilling. My Dad had taken a train ride to Key West when he first arrived in Miami in the early 20's before a hurricane wrecked the tracks.
Guest 19-May-2007 13:46
They also had a great bargain basement