Tag Archives: Saks Fifth Avenue

A whirlwind tour of Herald Square: More than just Macy’s, the intersection of publishing, theater and debauchery

Herald Square at night, 1910, with the flurry of shoppers, the churn of printing presses, the clanking and soot exhaust of the elevated train, the rush of the streetcar. The theaters, the drinking, the dancing. (Courtesy the blog Ajax All Purpose Blog)

PODCAST Welcome to the secret history of Herald Square, New York City’s second favorite intersection — after Times Square, of course, just a few blocks north. But we think you may find this intersection at 34th Street, Sixth Avenue and Broadway perhaps even more interesting.

This is a tale of the Tenderloin, an entertainment and vice district which dominated the west side of midtown Manhattan in the late 19th century, and how it abutted the great cultural institutions that soon became attracted to Herald Square, from cheap aquariums to New York’s greatest opera house.

By the 1890s, newspapers arrived to the area, including the one that gives Herald Square its name. A remnant of the New York Herald Building still sits in Herald Square and is the cause of some serious conspiracy. (Especially if you’re afraid of owls!) But the Herald wasn’t the only publication that got its start here; in fact, one of America’s most famous magazines began in a curious office-slash-bachelor apartment facility just close by.

The department stores came at the start of the 20th century, and we bring you the tales of Macy’s, Saks and Gimbels, not to mention their later incarnations, the Herald Center and the Manhattan Mall.

ALSO: Where on 32nd Street were crazy parties featuring a who’s who of New York’s greatest freak show performers? Where did a silent fim stunt man meet his end? And where in New York can you get the best in Korean pop music?

To get this week’s episode, simply download it for FREE from iTunes or other podcasting services, subscribe to our RSS feed or get it straight from our satellite site.

You can also listen to the show on Stitcher streaming radio and Player FM from your mobile devices.

Or listen to straight from here:
The Bowery Boys: Herald Square
______________________________________________________


The bawdy Haymarket dance hall, at 30th Street and Sixth Avenue, in a magnificent painting by John Sloan (1907) that conjures up the glamour and winks at its secret pleasures. Several of Sloan’s works depict places located in the Tenderloin, a wide area of entertainment and vice west of Broadway. The original painting hangs in the Brooklyn Museum.

The Great New York Aquarium of W.C. Coup, bringing sea creatures to the corner of Broadway and 35th Street. (NYPL)

The character of Broadway between the intersections of 34th Street and 42nd Street (before they were known as Herald Square and Times Square, respectively) was changed forever with the construction of the Metropolitan Opera House, a vanity project for New York’s new wealthy class. It was all for show; there were plenty of loges for the rich, but so little backstage room that set pieces were stored on the street. (NYPL)

The front of the New York Herald building, with its ornate clock face and Minerva statue. Please note the owls on the corners. (NYPL)

The two most dominant structures in Herald Square in the 1890s — the Sixth Avenue Elevated and Stanford White’s Herald building. “Running presses seen from street.” (NYPL)

The Elevated and the Herald Building from another angle in 1936, with the new addition of Macy’s — and the little building which prevented Macy’s from taking up the entire block! Today, that’s still a Sunglass Hut. You can also see that the back of the Herald offices has already been demolished and replaced with an office building. The front would survive a bit longer and then too would be destroyed. (NYPL)

A view of Greeley Square, with the elevated to the right. This building is the Union Dime Saving Bank. The counting offices of the New York World were on the ground floor, however I’m not certain if they are there in the year this picture was taken (1899).

 Now here’s a mystery for you — this is Greeley Square, named for the statue of Horace Greeley which was definitely installed in 1894. Hmm, but where is it?

The Hotel McAlpin, at the southeast corner of 34th Street, the largest hotel in the world when it was built in 1912! Happy 100th anniversary to this accommodation, pivotal in New York City history.

Herald Square in an early (1896!) clip from Edison.

And an image for the holidays, from the 1940s! Courtesy Life Magazine

A whirlwind tour of Herald Square: More than just Macy’s, the intersection of publishing, theater and debauchery

Herald Square at night, 1910, with the flurry of shoppers, the churn of printing presses, the clanking and soot exhaust of the elevated train, the rush of the streetcar. The theaters, the drinking, the dancing. (Courtesy the blog Ajax All Purpose Blog)

PODCAST Welcome to the secret history of Herald Square, New York City’s second favorite intersection — after Times Square, of course, just a few blocks north. But we think you may find this intersection at 34th Street, Sixth Avenue and Broadway perhaps even more interesting.

This is a tale of the Tenderloin, an entertainment and vice district which dominated the west side of midtown Manhattan in the late 19th century, and how it abutted the great cultural institutions that soon became attracted to Herald Square, from cheap aquariums to New York’s greatest opera house.

By the 1890s, newspapers arrived to the area, including the one that gives Herald Square its name. A remnant of the New York Herald Building still sits in Herald Square and is the cause of some serious conspiracy. (Especially if you’re afraid of owls!) But the Herald wasn’t the only publication that got its start here; in fact, one of America’s most famous magazines began in a curious office-slash-bachelor apartment facility just close by.

The department stores came at the start of the 20th century, and we bring you the tales of Macy’s, Saks and Gimbels, not to mention their later incarnations, the Herald Center and the Manhattan Mall.

ALSO: Where on 32nd Street were crazy parties featuring a who’s who of New York’s greatest freak show performers? Where did a silent fim stunt man meet his end? And where in New York can you get the best in Korean pop music?

To get this week’s episode, simply download it for FREE from iTunes or other podcasting services, subscribe to our RSS feed or get it straight from our satellite site.

You can also listen to the show on Stitcher streaming radio and Player FM from your mobile devices.

Or listen to straight from here:
The Bowery Boys: Herald Square
______________________________________________________


The bawdy Haymarket dance hall, at 30th Street and Sixth Avenue, in a magnificent painting by John Sloan (1907) that conjures up the glamour and winks at its secret pleasures. Several of Sloan’s works depict places located in the Tenderloin, a wide area of entertainment and vice west of Broadway. The original painting hangs in the Brooklyn Museum.

The Great New York Aquarium of W.C. Coup, bringing sea creatures to the corner of Broadway and 35th Street. (NYPL)

The character of Broadway between the intersections of 34th Street and 42nd Street (before they were known as Herald Square and Times Square, respectively) was changed forever with the construction of the Metropolitan Opera House, a vanity project for New York’s new wealthy class. It was all for show; there were plenty of loges for the rich, but so little backstage room that set pieces were stored on the street. (NYPL)

The front of the New York Herald building, with its ornate clock face and Minerva statue. Please note the owls on the corners. (NYPL)

The two most dominant structures in Herald Square in the 1890s — the Sixth Avenue Elevated and Stanford White’s Herald building. “Running presses seen from street.” (NYPL)

The Elevated and the Herald Building from another angle in 1936, with the new addition of Macy’s — and the little building which prevented Macy’s from taking up the entire block! Today, that’s still a Sunglass Hut. You can also see that the back of the Herald offices has already been demolished and replaced with an office building. The front would survive a bit longer and then too would be destroyed. (NYPL)

A view of Greeley Square, with the elevated to the right. This building is the Union Dime Saving Bank. The counting offices of the New York World were on the ground floor, however I’m not certain if they are there in the year this picture was taken (1899).

 Now here’s a mystery for you — this is Greeley Square, named for the statue of Horace Greeley which was definitely installed in 1894. Hmm, but where is it?

The Hotel McAlpin, at the southeast corner of 34th Street, the largest hotel in the world when it was built in 1912! Happy 100th anniversary to this accommodation, pivotal in New York City history.

Herald Square in an early (1896!) clip from Edison.

And an image for the holidays, from the 1940s! Courtesy Life Magazine

Doctor Alice, the Saks heiress, and the accidental nanny: Fascinating New York women who survived the TItanic



The Waiting Game: Down at the White Star Line’s Broadway offices near Bowling Green, anxious New Yorkers line the streets waiting for news about the sunken vessel. 1912

Over fifteen hundred people died the night the Titanic sank, April 14-15, 1912. The early reports from the New York newspapers, of course, spent their time mourning the city’s most connected figures to society. Even from some of the most obsessive sources on the Titanic, the details on the lives of dozens of men and women who died below deck are sometimes hard to locate.

There’s always been something slightly unsettling to me about using primary news sources for Titanic research. The weight of wealthy lives over poor ones — of women over men, and of American and British lives to all others — can be a little unsettling. For instance, an anecdote from an April 20, 1912, article in the New York Times: “…[I]t became known among those saved from the Titanic were six or eight Chinamen who were among the steerage passengers on the big liner. It seems that they climbed aboard one of the lifeboats without anybody making objection, despite the fact that many of the women in the steerage of the Titanic went down with the ship.”

Steep yourself in the gravity of this weekend’s many centenary Titanic remembrances fully knowing they sometimes embody a Gilded Age slant towards the great loss to New York high society. But this was indeed a tragedy that shook most of the entire world to its core and, in particular, changed the lives of many Americans, from tenements to townhouses.

The old-family names and the wizards of business (Astor, Straus, Guggenheim) have been well documented. But here I present the fates of five well-off but perhaps lesser-known New York women who survived the sinking of the Titanic with intriguing stories of their own to tell:


Dr. Alice Farnham Leader 
Born in New York, May 10, 1862
Alice would have been among the second generation of women trained in medicine, and a career in pediatrics was one of the few that a women of her day could ably progress towards. As late as 1907 she was employed at Bellevue Hospital as ‘a social service nurse‘.  However she wasn’t a practicing doctor by the time she boarded the Titanic; the 49 year old had retired when her husband died in 1908.

She was rescued by lifeboat no. 8, commanded by one of the Titanic’s most famous names: NoĆ«lle Rothes, the Countess of Rothes. “The countess is an expert oarswoman and thoroughly at home in the water,” Alice told the press, who sadly seemed more interested in the fate of the the titled gentry than of this mysterious doctor who appears to have avoided the spotlight for the remainder of her life.

Afterwards: Dr. Leader is mentioned in a Utah newspaper in 1916, discussing the crisis of graying hair.  Her solution: “A head exercise for circulation is to lie on the couch with the head projecting beyond the couch. Bend the head forward, backward, to each side, to each side, then rotate.”
Died: April 20, 1944

Irene (Rene) Harris
Born: June 15, 1876
A New York stage actress with some considerable credits to her name, Harris boarded the Titanic with her husband Henry Birkhardt Harris, the theater impresario and partner (with Jesse Lasky) in the Folies Bergere, which has just opened in midtown the year before.

 Irene made it to a lifeboat but her beloved husband perished on the Titanic. The Times recounts her cable to the Hudson Theater: “Praying that Harry has been picked up by another steamer.”

Afterwards: Returning to the New York theater in grief, she sued the White Star Line for a large petition of damages, and perhaps with good reason; she discovered when she got home that her husband was nearly bankrupt from the Folies Bergere venture and other flops. So she decided to make her own money, soon becoming one of Broadway’s first female producers with such shows as ‘Lights Out’ and ‘The Noose’ and buying a Park Avenue apartment.

But her wealth didn’t make it out of the Great Depression, and she spent her last days living in Manhattan hotels.  In 1958, she was subjected to a screening of the Hollywood film ‘A Night To Remember‘. “I think your film title is a mistake,” she said. “It was a night to forget.”
Died: September 2, 1969

Margaret Hays
Born: December 6, 1887
If not for the tragic sinking of the Titanic, Margaret Hays’ fate might have made a charming family comedy. The young woman lived at 304 West 83rd Street and had gone to Europe with two school friends Olive and Lily. And there was another lady, or rather, Lady, Margaret’s Pomeranian dog.

All three friends and her little dog too made it to a lifeboat, but Margaret’s story was just beginning. Onboard the rescue ship Carpathia were two small frightened French boys. They had been separated from their father Michel who was never found. Hays, who spoke French, took the boys into her care during the somber voyage and well after they arrived in New York. They stayed at her home on West 83rd — she distracted the distraught boys with carriage rides up Riverside Drive — until their mother arrived from France.

On her arrival, it was revealed that their father had taken the two boys against their mother’s will during a bitter divorce battle.

Afterwards: Hays married a Rhode Island doctor and lived in relative comfort, dying during a vacation in Argentina.
Died: August 21, 1956

Below: The ‘Titanic orphans’, named Michel and Edmond (not Louis & Lola!), below with their mother at Hays’ West 83rd Street townhouse.

Leila Meyer
Born in New York, September 28, 1886
The young socialite and daughter of Andrew Saks (founder of Saks Fifth Avenue) met aspiring Wall Street broker Eugene Meyer and married him in 1909. While traveling, Leila was wired the tragic news that her father had died. (Later, she discovered that a sizable part of their fortune had been willed to her.) Leila and her husband boarded the Titanic to return home. She made it to a lifeboat; her husband died aboard the ship.

Afterwards: She later remarried and lived the remainder of her life at 970 Park Avenue, rarely speaking to the press about her tragedy, although her spectacular jewelry collection was frequently remarked upon in women’s magazines.
Died: November, 27, 1957

Mrs. Charlotte Appleton
Born in New York, December 12, 1858

Charlotte was well versed in the thrill of ocean travel. Her father, once a well-known dry goods importer, worked for the firm which operated the Black Ball Line, one of the oldest shipping companies in New York and no stranger to a few shipwrecks of its own. She married into the prestigious Appleton   publishing family and was on the Titanic with two sisters, returning from a funeral in England.

Afterwards: Mrs. Appleton’s name is familiar with Titanic buffs as she was an acquaintance of Col. Archibald Gracie IV, the great-grandson of the man who built Gracie Mansion and one of the more notable bold-faced names on the Titanic. Mrs. Appleton lived the remainder of her life at 214-33 33rd Road, the oldest house in Bayside, Queens.
Died: June 25th, 1924

Some pictures and many of the birth/death dates above are courtesy Encyclopedia Titanica. Top picture courtesy the Library of Congress.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post accidentally killed off Archibald Gracie IV on the Titanic! The gentleman survived. In fact, his survival memoir became one of the core sources for early Titanic historians. More about that in our podcast on his ancestor, the first Archibald Gracie and Gracie Mansion.

‘Mad Men’ notes: The secrets of the New Yawk accent



On the upper floor — or flooah? — with the upper crust: Ladies coats at Sak’s Fifth Avenue in 1960, photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt (LIFE)


WARNING The article contains a few spoilers about last night’s ‘Mad Men’ on AMC, so if you’re a fan of the show, come back once you’re watched the episode.

A culture clash between New Yorkers from different races and classes came barreling through the storyline of ‘Mad Men‘ this week. While Peggy Olson had an awkward bonding moment with the new black secretary Dawn, a morbidly ill Don Draper took out his emotional tensions on the new Jewish copywriter Michael Ginsberg.

As revealed last week, Ginsberg is a ‘real’ New Yorker, living in a tiny apartment with his very devout father with a thick Yiddish accent. This week, Draper chastised the casual, Brooklyn-esque tone of Ginsberg voice, possibly implying a dig at the character’s Jewish roots. In response, Ginsberg defended his ‘regional accent’ and pointed out that Don, too, had an accent. The new kid eventually shines at a pitch meeting emulating a presentation style (and even vocal techniques) ripped from the Draper playbook

On a personal note, I’ve been fighting with accents my whole life, born with an Ozarks drawl only to develop the standard Midwestern ‘newscaster’ voice by high school, then living in New York for almost two decades and now slowly beginning to sound like it. So I found Don’s personal affront particularly interesting, as everything about him is a facade, including the voice. (I also went to school with fellow Missourian Jon Hamm, but that’s for another posting.)

Until last night, it never occurred to me that the secret to New York’s modern local tone — the many borough-specific variants of the New Yawk accent, if you will — was actually ‘discovered’, academically speaking, in a published study released in 1966, the year this season of ‘Mad Men’ is set.

Linguist expert William Labov was a Columbia University doctoral student in the early 1960s when he embarked on an extraordinary and influential study of the New York accent, the results of which were released as The Social Stratification of English in New York City in 1966.

The standard New York accent was historically presented as street jargon, whether it be the New York Times writing out the words of newsboys phonetically (“Dere’s tree t’ousand of us and we’ll win sure”) or the broad slang-filled movies of the Bowery Boys acting troupe (“Whadda ya hear! Whadda ya say!”). Upper class New Yorkers from old families frequently carried a New England lilt in their voices.

What seems inherent from comparing those two examples was flatly proved by Labov’s fascinating experiments done in three New York City department stores — the affordable S. Klein’s in Union Square, the higher priced Macy’s in Herald Square, and the very exclusive Saks Fifth Avenue — attracting shoppers from different social classes.

Below: Klein’s ‘on the Square’ in 1936, photo by Berenice Abbott.

I would have loved to have assisted Mr. Labov out with his experiments. Throughout the day, he asked employees from each store where the women’s coat department were located. In the case of these three stores, it was on the fourth floor. Or the fowth flooah or even the fowt flooah. When asked to repeat what they said, people would most likely restate ‘fourth floor’ with the -r more carefully said, as though it was their accent that had caused the confusion.

Those employees of S. Klein were far more likely to lose their -r sounds, while those from Saks were least likely. But Labov’s study found an additional quirk. On higher floors, where more expensive items were sold in each case, people more likely kept their -r sounds.

His conclusion found that “rhocity increased with the prestige of the department store” and that it even increased within the store itself. How the words were clearly pronounced and presented did not specifically depend on the geographical origin of the speaker, but on socioeconomic considerations. Labov concluded that New Yorkers of the 1960s generally disliked their own accents and subconsciously chose to mask it. “The term ‘linguistic self-hatred’ is not too extreme to apply to the situation,” he stated in his report. “As far as language is concerned, New York City may be characterized as a great sink of negative prestige.” [source]

Labov’s 1966 study is considered one of the most important linguistic findings of the late 20th century. Today Labov is considered the father of sociolinguistics. Whether his conclusions still apply today is a question for modern researchers. But they add an interesting new context to this burgeoning competition between Draper and Ginsberg, a symbolic competition between the ‘fake’ and the ‘real’.

Christmas in the afternoon: A tour around Greeley Square

I’m not 100% sure on the date of this photo, but I’ll place it in the late 1940s, as Life photographer Nina Leen did a great many photoshoots for the magazine in this period. The statue of Horace Greeley sits astride the big Christmas tree as perfect afternoon light casts shadows upon the corner of 33rd and Broadway. Here’s a slightly different angle of the same scene.

Gimbels, at left, one of America’s largest department store chains in the 1940s, was presumably filled with shoppers. The building to its north was is Sak’s Herald Square, the ancestor of the far swankier Saks Fifth Avenue. Out of view at 34th Street is, of course, Macy’s.

The Hotel McAlpin, at right, was once the biggest hotel in the world when it was built in 1912. The storefront that sits at the corner of 33rd and Broadway is Crawford’s men’s clothing store. Today that same corner is occupied by Game Stop.

On the southeast corner of 33rd and Broadway was Whelan’s Drugstore, an New York drug store and soda fountain chain in its heyday during the 1940s and 50s. Its business neighbor was Young’s hat shop, specializing in Stetsons.

Tribute to a scrappy typewriter tower in lower Manhattan (yes, typewriters, remember those?)

I found this advertisement in an issue of the New York Tribune from one hundred years ago:

Although the famous Underwood Typewriter Company had principal manufacturing plants in Hartford, it was a New York company through and through. Its founder John Thomas Underwood became so wealthy that he built a stately home in the neighborhood of Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. Following his death in 1937, the estate was donated to the city and transformed into Underwood Park nearby Pratt Institute.

He desired a great skyscraper for his booming company, emulating those great towers built by industrialists like Frederick Bourne (of the Singer Sewing Machine Company and its companion Singer Building), and newspaper men like Joseph Pulitzer (who, after all, now used Underwood typewriters in their newsrooms at the mightt World Building on Park Row).

The Underwood building, at 30 Vesey Street, was designed by the firm of Starrett & Van Vleck, better known for their department stores than their skyscrapers. Their roster includes the flagship locations of Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s and Lord & Taylors. Looking up at all 17 floors of the Underwood Building, one can see some of its touches imitated in those more famous, accessible buildings.

The office building was quickly overshadowed just two years later by another skyscraper rising one block away, over three times larger than the Underwood and another great monument to industry — the Woolworth Building.

Ladies, you’ll be happy to know that a rest room facility has been placed on the ground floor of the Underwood, as of this 1918 trade-journal news clipping, where you can enjoy your lunch:

The article refers to “both buildings” of the Underwood Typewriter Company. By that time, they had expanded into a second office at Vesey and Greenwich streets. (That building no longer exists. I’m pretty sure it stood where 7 World Trade Center is today.)

The Underwood sustained serious damage during the attack upon the World Trade Center in 2001. But it still stands today, hovering over its old neighbor, St. Paul’s Chapel, and greeting a new one, One World Trade Center, rising to its west.

Given that it stands on a heavily trafficked corner surrounded by greater tourist sites, most don’t bother to give the Underwood its due. [Here’s the Underwood on Google Maps.]

Below: the Underwood in 1911, photographed by noted city photographer Irving Underhill

MYSTERY! In the picture above, we see the south and west faces of the Underwood Building, the corner of Vesey and Church streets. (In the background you can see the Manhattan Municipal Building being constructed.) Today, across the street from the Underwood on the south side, is the famous St. Paul’s Chapel cemetery. However, in the picture above, there is clearly a building sitting there, the one with the odd little turret! Any idea as to what that is?

PODCAST: Saks Fifth Avenue

A podcast that’s “very Saks Fifth Avenue,” we get to the origins of the famous upscale retailer, follow its path from Washington D.C. to Heralds Square and then to “the most expensive street in the world,” and tell you a little about a glamorous milliner.

Listen to it for free on iTunes or other podcasting services. Or you can download or listen to it HERE

A slight clarification on this week’s episode: I describe one style used in the creation of Saks Fifth Avenue as Art Moderne, which is a variation of Art Deco using curved, streamlined surfaces. This clearly describes the inside of Saks, not the outside, which is a bit more formal.

A few historical pictures of old Fifth Avenue — back when it was primarily residential, on the cusp of becoming New York’s center for retail

Alfred Stieglitz’s 1893 classic photo ‘Winter on Fifth Avenue’

Glorious Fifth Avenue in 1901, Easter morning. The streets are filled with people on their way to church, passing block after amazing block of private homes. Although there is not a retailer in sight, the sidewalks look pretty much the same as they do today though!

Fifth Avenue in 1906 — this is on the west side of the street to the lot that would soon hold Saks Fifth Avenue. (You can see St. Patricks Cathedral in the background.) Photos are from the National Archives.

This is definitely the corner of Fifth Avenue and 42st Street, although I’m not to sure of the date, most likely around 1910.

The Fifth Avenue store, circa the 1940s, designed by Starrett and Van Vleck

The glamorous workaholic Tatiana Du Plessix, who almost singlehandedly outfitted New York’s society ladies with hats. (Tatiana wasn’t glamorous to everyone, as a recent biography by her daughter takes pains to note.)

The following shots are from the Google Life archive of interiors of Saks from 1960 by photgrapher Alfred Eisenstaedt.

Adam Gimbel in 1962. He took over the company after the deaths of Horace Saks and Bernard Gimbel and helped create its mid-century upscale image. (Photographer Yale Joel)

A Saks window in 1937, employing subtlety and grace instead of cramming the window with items

“Sophie of Saks,” Adam’s wife and the in-house designer for Saks Five Avenue, sits far right as a model displays a design to a customer. (1960/Peter Stackpole)

Gimbels Bridge over troubled shoppers

The blocks just south of Herald Square are pretty grim. Malls full of chain stores, bland electronic store fronts and fast food restaurants disguise a once vibrant shopping outpost, as department-store competitors of Macy’s flocked to the neighborhood in the early part of the 20th century. One strange vestige of this retail nostalgia still exists, in the form of a fabulous green copper traverse above 32nd Street.

Gimbels was a more than worthy adversary of nearby Macy’s. The two were Coke and Pepsi of early American shopping, with an early, antiquated catchphrase ‘Well, would Macy’s tell Gimbels?’ exemplifying the top-secret, competitive tactics of the business world.

Yet Macy’s was always the more respectable brand. Gimbels arrived in the Herald Square area in 1910 with a lackluster building by no less than Daniel Burnham (of Flatiron Building fame) who was clearly having an off-day. Despite (or perhaps, because of) innovations such as the first ‘bargain basement’, Gimbels never reached the same hallmarks of class and reputation that Macy’s did.

One way in which the Gimbel family did one-up its competitor was branching to a more fashionable street — Fifth Avenue. It did that by merging with its neighbor, Saks Thirty-Fourth Street, in 1922. Two years later, Saks Fifth Avenue, a joint venture of the Gimbels and the Saks, opened uptown and one block over.

Symbolically bridged to more desirable Fifth Avenue, Gimbels decided to link its Herald Square store more literally with a recently acquired annex across the street, building a custom traverse in 1925, a beautiful copper bridge, three story tall, created by the Richmond Shreve and William Lamb, a teeth-cutting project for two young architects who would go on to help design the Empire State Building.

Both the original Gimbels store and its annex have been horribly modified over the years, becoming Manhattan’s saddest mall. Yet, for some amazing reason, the copper bridge has been left virtually intact. Until the 1990s, both ends of the bridge were completely walled off and were only reopened to replace the bridge windows. Despite some fears that it might be getting ripped down, the musty but still beautiful sky bridge still hangs high above shopper’s heads, a reminder of a universe of cut-throat department-store wars.

Picture courtesy Flickr/moufle