Gigi Hadid and toy soldiers; she designed their uniforms. Photo credit: Rony Alwin.
To mark the return of the iconic FAO Schwarz toy emporium to NYC in the form of a new 2.5-story, 20,000-square-foot-plus flagship at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, the store hosted a celebrity-studded VIP preview Thursday night ahead of Friday’s opening. Guests included Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka, Whoopi Goldberg, Bethenny Frankel, Morena Baccarin, Carrie Berk, and Disney’s Mia Sinclair Jenness. Doors opened today at 10:30 a.m., kicked off with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. With a nod to the brand’s magical history as part of New York City lore, the new store uses the Art Deco architecture of its new home to amplify memories of FAO experiences from years past; a look toward the future begins with FAO Schwarz toy soldiers flanking the store’s 49th street entrance sporting new uniforms designed by supermodel Gigi Hadid.
Welcome back to our world of toys
It’s been more than three years since FAO Schwarz closed its doors after 150 years, ending its run as the nation’s oldest toy store. At the time, owner Toys “R” Us blamed rising rents at Midtown’s General Motors Building, but assured the public they’d be looking for a new location. And since California-based firm ThreeSixty Group Inc. took over ownership in 2016, that day has finally come. According to the Wall Street Journal, FAO Schwarz will open a new 20,000-square-foot location in Rockefeller Center this November. Part of the company’s new strategy is to bring a “sense of theater” to the store, which will include costumed employees, magicians and dancers, and product demonstrators.
Get a look at the new storefront
- JFK Airport will receive $8.9 million in federal funds for runway and airfield upgrades. [Crain’s]
- Fortis Property Group is making progress with its controversial plan to bring four apartment towers to the former site of the Long Island College Hospital in Cobble Hill. [Curbed]
- With Manhattan skyscrapers getting taller and thinner, developers are installing giant counter weights at the towers’ apex to keep them from blowing in the wind. [NYT]
- To appease local UES residents, the city agreed to build a second ramp for the Marine Transfer Station; it’ll cost an additional $30 million. [DNAinfo]
- 3 World Trade Center has reached half of its 80-story height. [Curbed]
- FAO Schwarz‘s deal to move into a new home at 1633 Broadway has fallen through. [CO]
Images: Supertall, super-skinny tower 111 West 57th Street (L); FAO Schwarz (R)
When Frederick August Otto Schwarz immigrated to Baltimore from Germany in 1856, he dreamed of opening “a magical toy emporium that featured extraordinary, one-of-a-kind toys from all over the world, while creating a theatrical experience to showcase merchandise in a way that would bring it to life.” Six years later, he and his two older brothers opened “Toy Bazaar,” a small fancy-goods store that sold stationary and toys. 150 years later, their store, having long since moved to New York City and been renamed FAO Schwarz, would be known around the world and crowned the oldest toy store in the United States.
But all that changed last week, when the toy wonderland closed its famous Fifth Avenue doors for good. Its current owner, Toys “R” Us, cited rising rents as the reason for the departure, but tried to assure the public that they’d find a new location (they reportedly checked out a space in Times Square). For many of us, though, a different address–perhaps one without the giant floor piano that was immortalized in the 1988 Tom Hanks movie “Big”–will be a huge blow to our childhood nostalgia. So, while the fate of FAO Schwarz is still up in the air, let’s take a trip down memory lane.
Learn the history of the toy store here
Image: Gary Burke via flickr.
Beloved toy store FAO Schwarz has announced that it will shutter its midtown Manhattan store on July 15, citing rising rents, reports Bloomberg. Founded in 1862, the store, which is owned by toy chain Toys “R” Us, Inc., is the oldest toy store in the United States. The brand has long been known for its high-end dolls and life-sized stuffed animals and as the stuff of many a tiny tot’s fantasies.
What does the future hold for the iconic toy store?