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This story first appeared in the September 6, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Herald Square’s opening day: November 8, 1902
Average shoppers daily: 35,000; up to 75,000 on peak holiday days.
Gross square feet at Herald Square: 2,169,000
• The flagship is considered the third-most-visited site in the city after the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty.
• The store has National Historic Landmark status.
• Designed by De Lemos & Cordes, it is lauded by critics as one of the architectural jewels of turn-of-the-century New York.
• In 1862, Macy’s is the first store to bring Santa inside to greet children. Previously he stood outside to draw crowds. Macy’s also inaugurates elaborate holiday windows that year.
• Macy’s is the first American retail store with modern-day escalators in 1902, and those original wooden escalators are still in operation at the flagship.
• At the festivities marking the 100th anniversary of the Herald Square store, actor F. Murray Abraham says his first job in New York was playing Santa at Macy’s.
• Macy’s Margaret Getchell LaForge becomes the first female retail executive in 1866.
• Macy’s is the first department store to stay open until midnight on Christmas Eve, 1867.
• In the 1890s, Macy’s pioneers the concept of private brands for fashion goods. During this decade, its Macy’s and Red Star brands are all the rage in New York.
• In 1924, Macy’s hosts the first annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, performed solely by company employees. The procession features floats, bands and animals from the zoo, and draws 10,000 onlookers.
• Macy’s introduces colored bath towels to America in 1932.
• Macy’s holds the first liquor license issued in New York City after Prohibition.
• Macy’s launches the first department store Flower Show in 1946.
• Macy’s wins its first Emmy, along with NBC, for the Thanksgiving Day Parade broadcast in 1980.
• Macy’s opens its first store outside the continental U.S., in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 2000.