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New York City: Fifth Avenue Stroll

A PICK-ME-UP: LET’S CELEBRATE FRIENDSHIP AT THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY WITH MY FAVORITE LIONS: FORTITUDE AND PATIENCE, SCULPTED BY EDWARD CLARK POTTER AND THE PICCIRILLI BROTHERS, 1911 (PHOTO BY THEADORA BRACK)

A PICK-ME-UP: LET’S CELEBRATE FRIENDSHIP AT THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY WITH MY FAVORITE LIONS: FORTITUDE AND PATIENCE, SCULPTED BY EDWARD CLARK POTTER AND THE PICCIRILLI BROTHERS, 1911 (PHOTO BY THEADORA BRACK)

By Theadora “Golightly “ Brack

Celebrating Galentine’s Day, I’ve got a wonderful idea! Let’s do things we’ve never done before, starting with Champagne before breakfast. It’s in the icebox, darling! Pop open the bottle while I make a list of sights to see along Fifth Avenue. Never a thumping bore, we’ll shop hop ’til we drop. Grab your sunnies!

Don’t you just love it?

Love what? Macy’s at Herald Square, that’s what. Commandeer a few chairs, while I trap the pretzels and French fries. I’ll tell you one thing: I’m mad about this place.

After we’ve admired the vitrines, we’ll gaze up at the nearby Empire State Building, the closest thing to heaven in this city. It’s still true. However, before crossing, do look both ways or else you, too, will have a star-crossed Affair to Remember! Besides, Cary Grant left the building years ago.

HURTLING INTO THE BEAUTY SPOTLIGHT: IT’S RAINING BEADED BAGS ON FIFTH AVENUE, SO DON’T FORGET YOUR SUNNIES, BUCKETS, AND WHEELBARROWS, TOO (PHOTO BY THEADORA BRACK)

HURTLING INTO THE BEAUTY SPOTLIGHT: IT’S RAINING BEADED BAGS ON FIFTH AVENUE, SO DON’T FORGET YOUR SUNNIES, BUCKETS, AND WHEELBARROWS, TOO (PHOTO BY THEADORA BRACK)

DO GAZE UP AT THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING! BUT BEFORE CROSSING, LOOK BOTH WAYS OR ELSE YOU, TOO, MAY HAVE A STAR-CROSSED AFFAIR TO REMEMBER! (PHOTO BY THEADORA BRACK)

DO GAZE UP AT THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING! BUT BEFORE CROSSING, LOOK BOTH WAYS OR ELSE YOU, TOO, MAY HAVE A STAR-CROSSED AFFAIR TO REMEMBER! (PHOTO BY THEADORA BRACK)

1. Macy’s, 151 West 34th Street (at Broadway)

Rowland Hussey Macy’s “World’s Largest Store” has been shimmering at Herald Square since 1902. Curious about the store’s “star” logo? It’s a salute to the tattoo that Macy got when he worked as a teen on a Nantucket whaling ship in the 1830s. Perhaps R.H. had Moby Dick in mind when he created his first whale of a sale?

Tip: If you dig time travel, don’t miss the original Otis L-type escalators, located smack dab in the middle of the revamped fragrance hub. The escalators with the wooden treads run between the 8th and 9th floors. Going down? Hold onto the railing because it’s a bumpy ride, but worth every click-clack and jiggle.

STRAIGHT AS A COLUMN: HERE AT LORD & TAYLOR IS WHERE I BOUGHT MY VERY FIRST FITTED SUIT IN NAVY BLUE WITH WHITE PIPING DAZZLE—ON SALE, OF COURSE (PHOTO BY THEADORA BRACK)

STRAIGHT AS A COLUMN: HERE AT LORD & TAYLOR IS WHERE I BOUGHT MY VERY FIRST FITTED SUIT IN NAVY BLUE WITH WHITE PIPING DAZZLE—ON SALE, OF COURSE (PHOTO BY THEADORA BRACK)

2. Lord & Taylor, 424 5th Ave (at 38th Street)

Each time the heaps of handbags greet me as I make my way to the Lord & Taylor’s elevators, Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby pops to mind: “They’re such beautiful shirts,” Daisy sobbed, her voice muffled in the thick folds. “It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such beautiful shirts.’” This goes double for bags. Pass the hankies.

FLASHBACK: A NEW WORLD EXPO AT THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, PHOTOGRAPHED BY LOUISE DAHL-WOLFE, STYLED BY LORD & TAYLOR, HARPER'S BAZAAR, 1939 (T. BRACK’S ARCHIVES)

FLASHBACK: A NEW WORLD EXPO AT THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, PHOTOGRAPHED BY LOUISE DAHL-WOLFE, STYLED BY LORD & TAYLOR, HARPER’S BAZAAR, 1939 (T. BRACK’S ARCHIVES)

SIGN OF THE TIMES: LORD & TAYLOR WAS RECENTLY SOLD, SO GET THEE QUICKLY TO “THE DRESS ADDRESS,” AND EXPLORE IT LIKE THERE’S NO TOMORROW (PHOTO BY THEADORA BRACK)

SIGN OF THE TIMES: LORD & TAYLOR WAS RECENTLY SOLD, SO GET THEE QUICKLY TO “THE DRESS ADDRESS,” AND EXPLORE IT LIKE THERE’S NO TOMORROW (PHOTO BY THEADORA BRACK)

That’s what they said

In 1925, Lord & Taylor commissioned an artist to create a miniature Saint Patrick’s Cathedral out of starched handkerchiefs. Talk about pressed for success! On the first day of the launch, the store sold thousands of hankies at 25 cents a pop. How’s that for pulling out all the props?

Tip: Lord & Taylor was recently sold, so changes are right around the hairpin curve. If you’re in the city, get thee quickly to favorite “The Dress Address,” and explore it like there’s no tomorrow, starting with the gilded revolving doors and elevators.

LET THE SUN SHINE THROUGH: CAFÉ AT SAKS, BOASTING MOD CATBIRD PERCHES AND A PANORAMIC VIEW OF ROCKEFELLER CENTER (PHOTO BY THEADORA BRACK)

LET THE SUN SHINE THROUGH: CAFÉ AT SAKS, BOASTING MOD CATBIRD PERCHES AND A PANORAMIC VIEW OF ROCKEFELLER CENTER (PHOTO BY THEADORA BRACK)

3. Saks Fifth Avenue, 611 5th Avenue (at 49th Street)

Now, let’s roll on up to Saks. The year of their grand opening was 1924. At the crack of dawn, hundreds of sightseekers appeared, including boxer Jack Dempsey.

“Rush of shoppers opens Saks Store! Crowds so large even stenographers are pressed into service as Saleswomen. First package to President Coolidge! False report that Prince of Wales is there causes stampede of women to men’s department!” Such were the zippy headlines in that day’s The New York Times.

Tip: During a recent visit, I discovered the store’s café on the fifth floor. With its mod catbird seats and panoramic view of bustling scene below at the Rockefeller Center, it was difficult to stop at just one (very affordable) cup of coffee, I must admit. I was in heaven. Chocolate is sold here, too. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: I got weepy.

NEW MODE BEFORE AND AFTER FIVE: OUI, OUI TO THE MIU MIU TROUSERS WITH THE SPORTY SIDE STRIPES AT SAKS, I SAY! #STARTSAVINGPENNIESMISSBRACK

NEW MODE BEFORE AND AFTER FIVE: OUI, OUI TO THE MIU MIU TROUSERS WITH THE SPORTY SIDE STRIPES AT SAKS, I SAY! #STARTSAVINGPENNIESMISSBRACK

BRINGING HOME THE GOLD: YOU WON’T GO HANGRY UP IN THE CAFÉ AT SAKS WHILST STUDYING PROMETHEUS BY PAUL MANSHIP, 1934: CHOCOLATE IS ALSO SOLD HERE (PHOTO BY T. BRACK)

BRINGING HOME THE GOLD: YOU WON’T GO HANGRY UP IN THE CAFÉ AT SAKS WHILST STUDYING PROMETHEUS BY PAUL MANSHIP, 1934: CHOCOLATE IS ALSO SOLD HERE (PHOTO BY T. BRACK)

4. Bergdorf Goodman, 54 5th Avenue (at 58th Street)

Herman Bergdorf and Edwin Goodman’s flagship moved on up to 54th Street in 1928. Overlooking Central Park and the Grand Army Plaza, the view is a stunner when the Callery pear trees are in bloom (even if they’re a bit smelly). Also, keep your eyes peeled for the Plaza Hotel. Located next to Bergdorf, The Way We Were is just one of the many movies to feature this hotel.

FOOL-FOR-FANCIFUL: I COULD ALMOST HEAR THE BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S SOUNDTRACK SOFTLY A-DO-DOING AS I MADE MY EXIT AT BERGDORF GOODMAN (PHOTO BY THEADORA BRACK)

FOOL-FOR-FANCIFUL: I COULD ALMOST HEAR THE BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S SOUNDTRACK SOFTLY A-DO-DOING AS I MADE MY EXIT AT BERGDORF GOODMAN (PHOTO BY THEADORA BRACK)

Tip: For the first time ever, I recently explored the entire department store. I had a ball as I rolled through each and every tiny showroom like a high roller. On the 7th floor, I discovered an exhibition featuring gems from Berdorf’s own archives. My eye spied shots of the vitrines, advertisements, and sketches by Balenciaga and Dior.

Then, as I swooped down though the fragrance department, I succumbed to Robert Piguet’s powdery Petit Fracas. I sprayed it not only my wrists, but also on the back of my neck—letting the cat out of the bag. I could almost hear Mancini’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s soundtrack softly a-do-doing as I made my exit, floating all the way.

BRIGHT IDEA: FRIDA KAHLO AND ABRAHAM LINCOLN MAKE GLITTERY CAMEO APPEARANCES WITH A FLOURISH OF RED IN ASHLEY LONGSHORE’S ART AT BERGDORF (PHOTO BY THEADORA BRACK)

BRIGHT IDEA: FRIDA KAHLO AND ABRAHAM LINCOLN MAKE GLITTERY CAMEO APPEARANCES WITH A FLOURISH OF RED IN ASHLEY LONGSHORE’S ART AT BERGDORF (PHOTO BY THEADORA BRACK)

DÉCOR INSPO DEEP WITH LUSTRE: LONGSHORE’S PAINTINGS AND SCULPTURES WILL BE ON DISPLAY AT BERGDORF GOODMAN THROUGH THE 27TH OF FEBRUARY 2018 (PHOTO BY THEADORA BRACK)

DÉCOR INSPO DEEP WITH LUSTRE: LONGSHORE’S PAINTINGS AND SCULPTURES WILL BE ON DISPLAY AT BERGDORF GOODMAN THROUGH THE 27TH OF FEBRUARY 2018 (PHOTO BY THEADORA BRACK)

As Anaïs Nin described New York in the 1930s: “I love the proportions, the amplitude, the brilliance, the polish, the solidity. I look up at Radio City insolently and love it. The newness. The vitality. Just bring your own contents, and you create a sparkle at the highest power!”

It’s still true. So keep on strolling. Keep on sparkling! And Happy Galentine’s Day!

(If you are an Instagram fanatic, please leave a link below. Here’s where to find more of my Paris pics: @theadorabrack)

JUST BRING YOUR OWN [MATCHY-MATCHY] CONTENTS, AND YOU CREATE A SPARKLE AT THE HIGHEST POWER—ANAÏS NIN (PHOTO BY THEADORA BRACK)

JUST BRING YOUR OWN [MATCHY-MATCHY] CONTENTS, AND YOU CREATE A SPARKLE AT THE HIGHEST POWER—ANAÏS NIN (PHOTO BY THEADORA BRACK)

OODLES OF POODLES: GAL PALS SHOPPING AT BERGDORF GOODMAN, 1960S, 7TH FLOOR EXHIBITION #ACCESSORYGOALS

OODLES OF POODLES: GAL PALS SHOPPING AT BERGDORF GOODMAN, 1960S, 7TH FLOOR EXHIBITION #ACCESSORYGOALS

FRENCH CONNECTION: CARRIE BRADSHAW’S FAVORITE MOVIE HOUSE, LOCATED NEAR BERGDORF AND GRAND ARMY PLACE—A CITY HAVEN INSPIRED BY PLACE DE LA CONCORDE (PHOTO BY THEADORA BRACK)

FRENCH CONNECTION: CARRIE BRADSHAW’S FAVORITE MOVIE HOUSE, LOCATED NEAR BERGDORF AND GRAND ARMY PLACE—A CITY HAVEN INSPIRED BY PLACE DE LA CONCORDE

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55 thoughts on “New York City: Fifth Avenue Stroll

    • Thanks for the kind, kind words! A&S! Did you shop at the Brooklyn flagship on Fulton Street? I guess Macy’s acquired it during the 1990s, according to my digging. Beautiful building.

      Any favorite memories or purchases? If so, do tell.

      Enjoy the day!
      Theadora

      Liked by 1 person

  1. My favorite way to see NYC is through your eyes (or those of someone else.) Not so much of a big-city person, although I’ve gotten attached to Philadelphia through all my visits to our younger daughter’s. There’s a great Macy’s there, if you ever get the chance to stop. So good to read you again, T. Hope 2018 has been good to you.

    janet

    Liked by 2 people

    • Great to hear from you, Janet! Oh, I love Philadelphia. Macy’s! Is it the one on Market Street? If so, it’s a beautiful building—inside and out. Has it always been a Macy’s? I’ll do some digging today.

      I love old department stores. Such treasures! Your Marshall Field’s in Chicago is another favorite. I guess it’s now a Macy’s? More investigative shop work!

      Happy New Year!
      Theadora

      Like

    • Thank you, Alexander! Yes, if you trek it to New York City, do make time to spend with the lions: Fortitude and Patience.

      I also love the original names: Leo Astor and Leo Lenox. During the depression, Mayor La Guardia renamed them. Also, they were given a haircut to please the critics. “Too tame!” the haters had cried.

      Funny!
      Theadora

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, thanks, Frank! My mission: Spreading the word about the century-old department stores while they still exist. Treasures. Do you have a favorite retail palace?

      And again, thanks for sharing your Iceland photographs and tips!
      Theadora

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m not that much of a shopper anymore … I liked it more years ago when cities had their own store brands, which brought more uniqueness to the marketplace.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Merci, Wendy! The Zara shop on 52nd was a madhouse, discounted garb on both levels. Happy to report: I scored an embroidered jumpsuit (with a 1940s-vibe) and cat pajamas.

      Enjoy the day!
      T.

      (Is there a Scout and Molly boutique in New York?)

      Like

  2. Great stuff. I’ve still never been to New York. My partner went a while back for work and managed to do some sight-seeing and general tourist stuff. Unfortunately, I was unable to join her 😦

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Violet. I completely enjoyed the detective work. And it was wonderful to see so many of gilded traces from the past: the elevators, the escalators, and the heavy revolving doors, along with the wonderful “ladies lounge” signs. It made time travel extremely easy, breezy. Not bumpy at all!

      Enjoy the day,
      Theadora

      Like

  3. She replaced her morning glass of orange juice with Madam Clicquot’s tipple, and read the magic words that swept her back to past glories of New York city. In the manner of Holly Golightly she pressed her nose against unbearably enticing windows. Oh, the glory of Saks. The lure of Lord and Taylor. Magnificent Macy’s. In the pages of the diaries of Anais Nin she found the words that described her journey with Theadora. “I’m at once beyond an in New York. Tasting it fully.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Lovely, lovely words, Virginia. As I strolled up Fifth Avenue, you were on my mind. I spied beaucoup boots and shoes in ruby red. On the streets and in the shops, too! Decked out in velvet, satin, and faux fur, along with rhinestones, crystals, and patches. Somehow I managed to score a bejeweled pair of booties in cobalt blue—on sale.

      And in my size. The only pair. I felt like Cinderella. “Take us home!” they cried. I couldn’t resist. After sprinting to the cashier, I made a bee-line to yet another pretzel stand for a celebration as the sun set.

      T.

      Like

  4. You have brought sunshine to my Valentine’s Day! What a romp, Ms. Golightly! Love the history you weaved into the shopping experience along with coffee and chocolate. Did not know about the Macy tattoo! Cheers!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, thanks for strolling along the avenue with me! It was a fun story to. And goodness. Gracious. It was my first experience at the Saks coffee bar. What a view! Even with the clouds a-hovering, the statues and doors down at 30 Rock wooed. It was a Saturday afternoon, so the streets below were packed. It was a perfect day, from sunrise to sunset.

      Enjoy the weekend,
      Theadora

      Like

  5. Another fabulous tour, T! I felt just like I did the last time I was there, when I got to spend a long weekend with my very favorite person in the whole wide world. We strolled up 5th Avenue, too, so thanks to you, it all came flooding back in my memory and I got to relive the whole experience. I can’t wait to find out where you’ll take us to next!

    Liked by 1 person

    • GORGEOUS comment. Thanks for the kind words. And YES. I agree! In fact, I try to celebrate Galentine’s Day each and every day. Friends and champers are treasures.

      Enjoy the week!
      Theadora

      Liked by 1 person

  6. My second most favourite city after Paris. Or at par. 😉
    Didn’t know about the lions’ names. Quite adequate: the public library was my “office” (the phone booths at the back) when I lived in New York looking for a job. I’d go to the bank on 42nd in the morning to get dimes, then spend the morning making calls for interviews in the booths of the Library.
    🙂
    Take care

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, what a fabulous story. Years ago, the NYPL was not only my “office” but also my “dressing room.” From time to time. The ladies lounge on the basement level was perfect place for slipping on some “interview” garb.

      So you’d get your dimes for the telephones on 42nd street? By the way, the payphones still exist. In fact, I took a few shots of the big wooden booths. Dim lighting so the images are blurry. Maybe I’ll post one for you.

      Stay tuned!
      Theadora

      Liked by 1 person

      • Office and Dressing room! 🙂 That is great. We have indeed walked the same places. And I did go to the booths a coupla years ago. A pilgrimage. And they are still there. But I lost my NY photos from that particular trip.
        I will stay tuned. Take care.
        Brian

        Liked by 1 person

    • Wow! So your aunt worked in the Macy’s on 34th Street for 40 years? Do you remember the department? Did you visit? I bet she had wonderful stories. I love this building. Especially the doors!

      (Are there any old department stores in New Orleans?)
      Theadora

      Like

      • Hi. Yes, she worked in women’s makeup and fragrances. She started as a sales person and eventually ran the department. I visited when I was a young boy. I remember going there and thinking that “this places smells pretty good.” Somewhere deep in my visual memory I have an impression of seeing all kinds of cut glass which were probably those huge display perfume bottles.

        In New Orleans, they all fled to the suburbs to shopping centers where they eventually closed, except for two. JC Penny… and Macy’s 🙂 There used to be one downtown that featured Mr. Bingle during Christmastime. He is a sort of snowman figure. He still lives. You can collect all of the various figurined of him.

        Ray

        Liked by 2 people

  7. Worked at Alexander’s Dept store 57th and Lexington at Christmas time when I was a student at NYU Washington Sq. College. I loved the window dressings at the holiday, and at least once a week stopped at a Gyro stand for that authentic Greek taste. NYC is so immersive (any city for that matter) it’s not only the sites and sounds, but the smells and the tastes. The musty scent of the subways is one we never forget… the perfumes and the bakeries just this side of heaven. Thanks for a little tour of “The City” (as Long Islanders are known to call it)…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, I agree! I love, love the smells and tastes of New York. Gyros and pretzels! Fragrances and fruit stands, too. Winter, spring, summer, and fall.

      Alexander’s department store! 57th and Lexington. I just found its advertising slogan. It’s pretty darn fabulous. “You’ll find Alexander’s has what you’re looking for; how lucky can you get!”

      Did you get to work on the Christmas windows?
      Theadora

      Liked by 1 person

      • I was a cashier at Christmastime, and got to do every register from fur storage (one ring the whole night, but oh, what furs!) to toy dept. – lines the all night long. Didn’t do the windows but saw Bloomingdales every night… I took the RR train from eight street. Different times for sure!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi, Theodora! I’m coming out of my hole of despair and joining the party again. What beautiful photos! You have a keen eye. And NYC – I haven’t been there in years! How fun to travel with you. Must say, I do love those sparkley bits and bobs. And that Frida and Abe painting! LOVE. Talk soon, love.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anita! Great to hear from you! I also love Ashley’s vitrines at Bergdorf. You can’t go wrong with glitter, I always say. Green with envy: I think the “Time Out” chair is my favorite.

      So are you back on the road again? If so, I’m already looking forward to your dispatches.

      Stay in touch!
      Theadora

      Like

  9. You have made New York sparkle again for me. i lived in and around NYC most of my life and miss it sometimes. My daughter — also a Theodora with slightly different spelling — just graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC. i’m going to send her this post. I know she’ll love it!

    xx
    A

    Liked by 2 people

    • Another Theodora! Fabulous name! 😉 Thanks for sharing my New York City post, Adrienne. I really appreciate it. (Do you have a favorite museum? I’d love to spend time with the dollhouse by the Stettheimer sisters, sitting pretty now at the Museum of the City of New York. Oh, what a treasure.)

      Enjoy the weekend,
      Theadora

      Like

      • I have really fond memories of classes i took at The Metropolitan Museum of Art when I went to NYU. The American Wing is my favorite there (and the Christmas tree). Also love The Frick Collection. I never made it to The Morgan Library but still want to visit one of these days.
        Have a great weekend too.

        A

        Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, window-shopping like a high roller is always great fun at Bergdorf Goodman. Their vitrines are lookers—winter, spring, summer, and fall. It’s true. Paws-down, they’re my favorite. (I’m still daydreaming about the green Time Out chair.)

      Perhaps time to break out my stencil kit?!
      Theadora

      Like

  10. I love how this shows that true New York style of the 1920s and 30s. The connection between the Macy’s logo and Nantucket whaling ships is really interesting. You’ve made me want to go back to New York to smell those pear trees, but I’ll have to settle for a classic NYC movie for now. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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