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Songs and Stories
     December 2, 2019      #5E-336 SsK
Bright new lighting in downtown Kankakee greeted shoppers in 1949. This photo, looking eastward on Court Street from East Avenue, was taken soon after the new light fixtures were installed in the summer of 1949.

Photos courtesy of Kankakee County Museum Photo Archive

Downtown Kankakee, 1949: A Shopping Mecca 

By Jack Klasey

The year 1949 was a good one for Kankakee County — the austerity and uncertainty of World War II had faded away and the local economy was booming with new industries creating jobs, hundreds of homes being built and plenty of merchandise on the shelves of stores.

Families were ready to spend money, especially at Christmas time. In an era before shopping centers and enclosed malls, the place to shop was downtown Kankakee.

Literally hundreds of businesses, from large department stores such as Aldens and The Fair Store, to storefronts such as the Petite Shop and Clara Mae’s Confectionery, lined the streets of downtown, drawing crowds of shoppers from across ...

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This young lady seems more interested in posing for the camera than confiding in Santa. In the weeks preceding Christmas, hundreds of youngsters visited with Santa in his “gingerbread house” on the lawn of the Kankakee County Courthouse.

Photos courtesy of Kankakee County Museum Photo Archive

Jack Klasey
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