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History of Macy’s

Macy’s was founded in 1858 by Rowland Hussey Macy. Macy had established a dry goods store in downtown Haverhill, Massachusetts in 1851. He moved to New York City and established a new store named “R.H. Macy & Company” on the corner of 14th Street and 6th Avenue, later moving to 18th Street and Broadway, on the “Ladies’ Mile”, the 19th century elite shopping district, where it remained for nearly forty years.

In 1896, R. H. Macy’s was acquired by Isidor Straus and his brother Nathan, who had previously sold merchandise in the store. In 1902 the flagship store moved further uptown to Herald Square at 34th Street and Broadway. Although the store initially consisted of just one building, it expanded through new construction and merging, eventually occupying almost the entire block bounded by 7th Avenue on the west, Broadway on the east, 34th Street on the south, and 35th Street on the north. The only exception is, to this date, one small brownstone on the corner of 34th and Broadway, which remains a separate property. Macy’s rents it annually for a legendary sum and camouflages it with giant signs. This building is a remnant 19th century building purchased by Robert Smith in 1900 for $375.000, Macy’s neighbor at the old 14th Street location. The facade around the building was erected to camouflage it so that it would not detract from the Macy’s store, and Macy’s rented the building in later years from the heirs and their successors.

The original Broadway building was built in 1901–1902 by architects De Lemos & Cordes. It is sheathed in a Palladian facade, but has been updated in many details. Other additions to the west were added in 1924, 1928, and 1931, all designed by architect Robert D. Kohn. They are all in the Art Deco style.

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