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TBT Photos: See NYC Window Displays from 5 Years Ago

Posted by 
Melissa Toldy
Melissa Toldy
 2021-05-06

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floral dress window displayMelissa Toldy

About five years ago, I moved back to New York City, after a short hiatus down south. Walking around Manhattan again, I became obsessed with window displays.

So many storefronts have all-glass facades, allowing you to see inside, but also reflecting what’s on the outside. During 2016, I took so many snapshots of retail stores that caught my attention.

In 2020? Not so much.

Haven’t you missed walking around the city, admiring the window displays?

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saks fifth avenue window displayMelissa Toldy

Saks Fifth Avenue, notorious for their extravagant holiday window displays, had to change things up in 2020, for obvious reasons. Bloomingdale’s also had social distancing in mind, and they chose to livestream their holiday events.

But it’s not just the big stores in Manhattan that command attention. Even small shops in Brooklyn often put a lot of effort into their window displays.

Check out this giant watermelon I saw at Slope Cellars in August 2016. The seeds are made out of bottles!

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watermelon with seeds shaped like bottlesMelissa Toldy

Sometimes, there’s a dynamic element to the window displays in New York City. Remember when Lululemon had “live yoga windows” for their retail locations?

Walking through the West Village one night in September 2016, I noticed a cat sleeping in the window. Granted, it’s not that uncommon to see cats in windows, but look how perfectly color-coordinated this one happens to be?

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black and white cat in window displayMelissa Toldy

Considering The Laundress has a black-and-white aesthetic, I can’t help thinking they intentionally acquired this feline to match their interior decor.

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buddha window displayMelissa Toldy

Recognize this place? You are looking at the storefront for the gift shop at the Rubin Museum of Art. The statue appears to be watching the New Yorker passing by.

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camera repair window displayMelissa Toldy

A photography shop in Brooklyn chose to display two odd photos of Sarah Jessica Parker and Elle Fanning. The red neon creates a somewhat eerie, but memorable effect.

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nail salon window displayMelissa Toldy

Look how the nail polish bottles in this window display neatly line up with the windows in the building across the street. Letting customers see the available colors is a smart way to lure them inside.

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pet portraits window displayMelissa Toldy

Pet portraits? Yes, please. If you've spent much time in Greenwich Village, you've probably walked by this place, and chances are, you saw this same display.

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eye exam window displayMelissa Toldy

Neon signs are a great way to keep a window display visible all hours of the night. This one stands out because of the sign's shape: eye glasses for an eye shop.

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snail window displayMelissa Toldy

This brilliant snail sculpture appears to be covered in the leaves from the branches on the other side of the glass. Unfortunately, I'm not entirely sure where this was taken. I believe it was at a furniture store in Soho.

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upside down floral bouquets window displayMelissa Toldy

Look at these beautiful upside down floral bouquets in this display window. They flank a lightbulb, as if they resemble chandeliers.

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fish tank window dispalyMelissa Toldy

The more photos I took of window displays, the more I appreciated how the glass exteriors reflected the bustling city outside. Above is a photo of a pet store on 6th avenue in downtown Manhattan.

The store set up a fish tank in the window. I love how the fish appear to be swimming in the opposite direction of the car traffic. Also, the shelves of the pet store seem to follow the same line as the buildings across the street.

I hope you enjoyed these snapshots of the constantly changing window displays in NYC. Do you often admire the window displays in your neighborhood? Are you one of those people who look forward to the holiday displays every year?

Hopefully, in 2021, we can see more of these creative displays that bring so much vibrancy and color to New York City.

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