Shoppers check out a holiday window, via The Library of Congress
Santa rode in on his sleigh at the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and you know what that means: It’s officially the holiday season in New York. It’s fitting that Macy’s heralds the beginning of our collective good cheer since R. H. Macy himself revolutionized the holiday season when he debuted the nation’s very first Christmas Windows at his store on 14th Street in 1874. Since then, all of New York’s major department stores have been turning merchandise into magic with show-stopping holiday window displays. Historically, New York’s holiday windows have deployed a combination of spectacle, science, and art, with cutting-edge technology and the talents of such luminaries as Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, and Robert Rauschenberg. From hydraulic lifts to steam-powered windows, take a look back at the history of New York’s holiday windows, the last word in high-tech, high-design holiday cheer.
Look at more holiday history here
There are 2.5 miles of public viewing along the parade route in NYC; this interactive map can help you find a great spot instead of getting lost in the crowd. The map, from the fine folks behind the parade, outlines when the parade will pass by, which streets have the best public views (6th Avenue from West 59th to West 38th Streets gets the thumbs-up) and which ones are restricted, such as Central Park South at Columbus Circle. Also marked are all-important things like coffee, food, and restrooms.
More info, this way
Via Tishman Speyer/ The Wheeler building site
Tishman Speyer last April unveiled plans to revamp the Macy’s building at 422 Fulton Street in Downtown Brooklyn by building a 10-story office tower on top of it. Now, new renderings have been released this week of the building, known as the Wheeler, highlighting the design’s fusion of 19th century and Art Deco architecture. A 256-foot tall glassy addition to the historic department store will add over 840,000 square feet of commercial space, according to YIMBY.
See the renderings
There are many famous traditions synonymous with New York City, and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is at the top of that list. The first parade marched down Broadway in the winter of 1924, and in the years since, it’s grown into an event with more than 3.5 million spectators. The parade is also televised on both NBC and CBS and boasts a whopping 50 million viewers. And like any long-standing NYC institutions, the history behind the festivities and larger-than-life balloons is certainly interesting.
This way for the full history
As part of a strategy to shore up its flagging retail business, Macy’s is considering providing New York City with more public park space right on the rooftop of its Herald Square flagship store, the New York Post reports. Doug Sesler, EVP of Real Estate for the chain, said in an investor presentation Tuesday that the store was “Exploring ways to activate upper levels (e.g.rooftop) and overall property while retaining Macy’s store and presence.” To attract shoppers and add more excitement to the shopping experience, Macy’s execs are looking at plans to develop the rooftop of the 2.2 million square-foot 34th Street store, including restaurants, green space, trees and benches.
Why a park?
Tishman Speyer has released plans for the 422 Fulton Street Macy’s renovation that will turn a new 10-story space above the department store into a 620,000 square foot creative office hub called The Wheeler. Reflecting a recent trend in snazzy work spaces that attract TAMI (technology, advertising, media and information) clients, the space will comprise “620,000 square feet of opportunity in the center of downtown Brooklyn,” according to the developer. On offer will be the largest floor plates in Brooklyn with 15+ foot ceilings that “leave plenty of room for huge ideas,” and a sprawling rooftop terrace, part of an acre of outdoor space that “provides fresh air for fresher thinking.” There will also be 130 subterranean bike stations with lockers and showers for workers who bike to work.
Find out more
Felix the Cat 1927 – first balloon in Macy’s Parade
In 1927, three years after its first incarnation, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade replaced its live animals with balloons designed by marionette maker Anthony Frederick Sarg and made by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company (more on that here). The first such animal-shaped balloon was Felix the Cat, and after a nearly 90-year hiatus, the Times reports that he’s returning to the parade this year.
When America celebrates her 240th birthday on Monday, Gary Souza will be marking the occasion in a very big way. As a fireworks designer for Pyro Spectaculars, he is responsible for creating and overseeing the wondrous fireworks that make the nation ooh and aah during Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks. This year’s show will be Macy’s 40th annual production, a huge milestone for the department store, and will take place over the East River in Midtown and Lower Manhattan.
Pyro Spectaculars is a multigenerational family business begun by Manuel de Sousa after he immigrated from Portugal to the San Francisco area in the early 1900s. Over the years, the business has grown tremendously from creating small fireworks displays to a company that now spans five generations and is responsible for providing fireworks for some of the biggest names in the sports and entertainment industries, including the Winter and Summer Olympics, Super Bowls, Disney, and at concerts for icons such as the Rolling Stones. When it comes to Macy’s, Pyro Spectaculars has a 35-year collaboration with the store that has propelled the fireworks company to develop technology that allows for safer, more elaborate firework creations to come to life.
6sqft recently spoke with Gary to learn about the magnificence of fireworks, what it takes to produce the Macy’s show, and some of the exciting new elements at this year’s display.
Read the interview here
Image via Library of Congress
Herald Square is today known for many things. There’s the flagship Macy’s department store and the pedestrianized part of Broadway that extends to Times Square. And it serves as an epicenter of the retail corridor that now runs from 5th Avenue to 7th Avenue. Some may remember the song, “Give My Regards to Broadway,” from the George M. Cohan musical “Little Johnny Jones”with the iconic line, “Remember me to Herald Square.” But written in 1904, “Give My Regards to Broadway” references a very different Herald Square than the one we’re familiar with today.
Learn about the evolution of Herald Square here
In America, seasonal change is ushered in by Macy’s and its productions, from the holiday season with the Thanksgiving Day Parade to summer with fireworks for America’s birthday. When it comes to welcoming spring, the department store puts on its annual Flower Show, a longstanding tradition that began 65 year ago and is now marking its 42nd year at the company’s Herald Square location.
This year’s show, America the Beautiful, celebrates the wonders of the nation’s natural world at five stores around the country (NYC, Philadelphia, Chicago, Minneapolis, San Francisco). For New Yorkers who visit the show, it’s a chance to step out of the hustle and bustle and immerse themselves in gardens representing various regions of the United States. The executive producer behind the show is Mike Gansmoe, who is responsible for overseeing everything from conception to putting that last flower in place during overnight setups. 6sqft recently spoke with Mike to find out what’s blooming at this year’s show.
Read the full interview here