What Were America’s Christmas Monorails?

This sounds like a dream come true for both shopping parents and their children. An aerial tour of the toy department? Total genius! What a way to distract and enthrall kids while freeing their parents to browse more, and thus spend more. The kids were also likely taking inventory in their heads of all the toys they rode over in order to report back new wishes and wants to their parents. Do any of you remember seeing these IRL? Learn more about these monorails and what happened to them in this video by Peter Dibble on YouTube.

Throughout the mid-20th century, shopping centers across the United States featured an unusual Christmas tradition: kiddie monorail rides. In this video we’ll identify as many of these rides as I could find, explore where and when they were built, and discuss who was responsible for manufacturing them.

The first of these Christmas Monorails debuted at Wanamaker’s Department Store in Philadelphia. Fun fact, there was a Wanamaker’s not far from Adafruit HQ, located on Broadway and East 9th Street. It’s long gone now, but that short stretch of 9th street between Broadway and 4th Avenue is still called Wanamaker Place. Read more about the building site at 770 Broadway here on VillagePreservation.org


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