Type Department store
Location Grand Rapids, Michigan
"Hey, look, everybody! Herpolsheimer's! Herpolsheimer's!"
Know-It-All as the train passes by Herpolsheimer's.
Herpolsheimer's is a department store in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The Polar Express

In the beginning of the film, Hero Boy looks at a picture of himself at Herpolsheimer's, sitting on a department store Santa Claus' lap and ripping his beard off.

Sometime between the Polar Express' stops at Hero Boy's and Billy's houses, the train passes by the store. Know-It-All is the first to notice it and calls for the other children to come and see the Christmas display. The display has an animatronic Santa Claus and a tree, as well as a group of reindeer pulling a sleigh through the sky. There is also a lot of presents, to which Know-It-All claims to want all of them, and an instrumental of "Good King Wenceslas" is playing. Hero Girl says that she finds the display beautiful, but Hero Boy smirks when he sees a part of the Santa's mechanical workings.

The book mentions the train passing through towns and villages, but the name Herpolsheimer's is never directly stated, nor is a store with the name seen.

Real life

The store in the film is based on a real life department store that was once in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the hometown of Chris Van Allsburg. There were two stores in Grand Rapids, both of which opened in the 1800s, as well as one in Wyoming, Michigan, which opened in 1974 after being acquired from Wurzburg's. Another opened in Muskegon, Michigan. During the Christmas season, the downtown store in Grand Rapids operated a miniature train on a monorail suspended from the ceiling called the "Santa Express."

When the Muskegon Mall was built in 1976, the Herpolsheimer's there became part of the mall. The one in downtown Grand Rapids reduced in size and became part of a shopping mall called City Center in 1985. It continued to operate until 1987 after being sold to Federated Department Stores and renamed "Lazarus", along with the other Grand Rapids location. The miniature train it operated is currently at the Grand Rapids Public Museum.

Grand Rapids, MI Grand Rapids, Michigan Hero Boy's House Herpolsheimer's 11344 Edbrooke Avenue
The Journey Flat Top Tunnel Glacier Gulch Ice Lake
North Pole North Pole North Pole Square Communications Room Sorting Room