|Christmas Card Display: the observed and the observer|
From any recent study of New York the visitor from another planet would conclude that our observance of Christmas consisted chiefly in unusual practice and encouragement of the art of shop-keeping. Broadway and the other shopping streets have been for many days a vast fair, crowded with customers till long past the dinner-hour, and late at night, no doubt, the shopmen went out and bought from each other, for there is no resisting the contagion. When one has bought what he desires, there is a fine pleasure in leisurely strolls through the shopping quarter.
J. E. Learned, "Christmas Streets," New Outlook, December 1892
Late 19th century and early 20th century images depicting Christmas in New York from the Library of Congress collection can be divided (roughly) into two types: those showing activities related tocharities (Salvation Army, soup kitchens, orphanages, et al) and those showing shoppers on the street.