In the late 19th century, on the corner of Chestnut Street, between Eleventh and Twelfth Streets, Philadelphia, was a five-storied department named Darlington Runk & Company. A rich part of Philadelphia history, this high-scale dry goods store was immense in size, with 24 foot high ceilings and balconies overlooking a one hundred foot skylight.
The first floor was the silk, satin and velvet, the richness of this department was said to be unequaled. The Household Dry goods Department carried imported damasks, lace, embroideries, tableware and Paris and Vienna Fans made of ostrich feathers and gauze. The second floor was the Curtain and Furniture Department, where you could purchase the finest of 19th century tapestry materials for window coverings and upholstery for Chippendale furniture and other imported pieces. Other floors showcased the Misses Coat and Dress-Making, and Fur Departments.
Here is an excerpt from the article:
“On the third floor is the Ladies’ Dress-making Department. The high stand that this department has attained is due entirely to the patient, assiduous and unremitting attention to the constant changes demanded by fashion together with the most scrupulous attention to the endless detail connected with the making of a lady’s gown. None but the skillful fitters and careful work-people are employed, the result being that each gown, when completed, will bear the critical test of the most exacting. Of course, it often happens that a lady, having purchased a costume, needs a bonnet or a hat to match it. The Millinery Department, has, therefore been placed in juxtaposition to the Dress-making Department.”
I can’t even imagine what that magnificent store was like at Christmas. I loved reading about Darlington Runk & Company, Philadelphia, PA. It was a real snapshot of 19th Century life in America.