Euclid Avenue radiated the light of a million candlepower. Christmas trees mounted on poles and strung with lights reached from Public Square to the horizon. Santa Claus, waving from the May Co.'s awning, beckoned shoppers inside.

The Cleveland Transit System ran extra buses and Rapid trains to handle downtown's Christmas rush. The city's shoppers looked different than in past years, a reporter noted: fewer heavy coats and babushkas, more glamour. "The Jackie Kennedy pattern prevails — slim silhouettes and bulky hairdos — and very fetching it is, too." Gentlemen were dressing more formally, and teens had shed "the bobby sox look."

Today, CLE Clothing Co. and the House of Blues stand in the building where Woolworth's used to be. The May Co. storefront reflects the changes in downtown's economy: It's home to Cuyahoga Community College's Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts program.

For decades, Public Square has hosted the city's traditional holiday lighting display. But because of the square's renovation, the tradition is moving for 2014. From the old May Co. address to East 17th Street, Euclid Avenue will glow with holiday lights for the first time in years. About 20,000 bulbs donated by GE Lighting will blaze from medians and light poles.

Share this story: