New York City: Celebrating Galentine’s Day on Fifth Avenue

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)

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 Brack

If you’ve got a weekend to spend in the Big Apple during the winter season, I highly recommend exploring the department stores along Fifth Avenue. As your sequined shoes make a brand new start of it, straight through the heart of it, don’t fight the feeling. This still gussied-up stroll will ignite your fire, especially after a cup of Li-Lac’s hot coco. Open since 1923, the Brooklyn-based chocolate factory just opened a new flagship in the West Village. Making no beans about it, it was love at first sip.

Nothing quite like it: I also love the aroma of a hand-rolled, kettle-boiled sesame seed bagel, Murray’s Bagels, Greenwich Village (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Nothing quite like it: I also love the aroma of a hand-rolled, kettle-boiled sesame seed bagel, Murray’s Bagels, Greenwich Village (Photo by Theadora Brack)

New York, New York

I’ve been walking the New York streets since the age of eight. I love the days when nothing gets between your blood and the city’s cacophony. The noise of honking cars. The sound of high heels click-clacking. The squeal of taxi brakes. The ringing of church bells. I’ll take it all. Especially the aroma of street food: falafel, french fries, pretzels, and hotdogs. I don’t even like hot dogs, but you haven’t really lived until you’ve feasted on one from a cart parked outside the Met on a frigid day in January. With relish, please.

Here’s how Anaïs Nin described New York City to Henry Miller during 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.”

Oh, you said it, Ms. Nin. Now, shall we stroll?

Gaze up at the Empire State Building, but before crossing, do look both ways or else you, too, will have a star-crossed affair to remember! (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Gaze up at the Empire State Building, but before crossing, do look both ways or else you, too, will have a star-crossed affair to remember! (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Miracle on 34th Street

Let’s launch our window-shopping outside Macy’s at Herald Square. 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 and Deborah Kerr left the building years ago.

Hurtling into the beauty spotlight: Let’s launch our window-shopping outside Macy’s at Herald Square. (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Hurtling into the beauty spotlight: Let’s launch our window-shopping outside Macy’s at Herald Square. (Photo by Theadora Brack)

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

Rowland Hussey Macy’s “World’s Largest Store” has been shining at Herald Square since 1902. Are you 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?

Here’s how Macy’s wooed Francophiles in the newspapers during the 1950s:

“Walk into Paris through Macy’s windows! We’ve removed the glass. We’ve reproduced a Paris boulevard right down to the last kiosk! See the fashion accessories that Macy’s stylists spent weeks abroad collecting. Macy’s copies of handbags, scarfs, belts, gloves, and umbrellas are twin to the French in everything but price.”

Tip: 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. #Nevergetsold

Curious about the store’s “star” logo? It’s a salute to the tattoo that Macy got when he worked on a Nantucket whaling ship in the 1830s. (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Curious about the store’s “star” logo? It’s a salute to the tattoo that Macy got when he worked on a Nantucket whaling ship in the 1830s. (Photo by Theadora Brack)

In January 2019, Lord & Taylor’s Fifth Avenue flagship closed its doors. I’ll admit it—I got weepy looking up at its once majestic façade. (Photo by Theadora Brack)

In January 2019, Lord & Taylor’s Fifth Avenue flagship closed its doors. I’ll admit it—I got weepy looking up at its once majestic façade. (Photo by Theadora Brack)

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

Sadly, in January 2019, Lord & Taylor’s Fifth Avenue flagship closed its doors. The banners and signs were removed, along with nearly every brass-plated ornament. I’ll admit it—I got weepy looking up at its once majestic façade. See, here at “The Dress Address” is where I spent many a lunch break, trying on perfume after perfume—often during the same browse—much to the chagrin of the patient sales associates, I’m sure.

Here’s a photo of my final purchase at Lord & Taylor: A red cat bag by Karl Lagerfeld. RIP, Lord & Taylor and Monsieur Lagerfeld, too. (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Here’s a photo of my final purchase at Lord & Taylor: A red cat bag by Karl Lagerfeld. RIP, Lord & Taylor and Monsieur Lagerfeld, too. (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Never a thumping bore: The year of the grand opening at Saks was 1924, to every flapper’s delight, I’m certain. (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Never a thumping bore: The year of the grand opening at Saks was 1924, to every flapper’s delight, I’m certain. (Photo by Theadora Brack)

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

Now, let’s power-push it up to Saks. Look at the flags in the distance. The year of the grand opening was 1924, to every flapper’s delight, I’m certain. Setting the scene: At the crack of dawn on Monday, September 15 that year, hundreds of sightseers 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.

Saks, Study how the vitrines mesh with the reflections of the surrounding cityscape. Providing seamless backgrounds, the trees and skyscrapers play nicely with the mannequins. (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Saks, Study how the vitrines mesh with the reflections of the surrounding cityscape. Providing seamless backgrounds, the trees and skyscrapers play nicely with the mannequins. (Photo by Theadora Brack)

What’s new?

Diamond-shaped escalators, that’s what’s new, and shiny, too. Designed by Rem Koolhaas, the dichroic film-coated escalators not only twinkle, but also throw flashes of color on the white walls and columns as you ride between the renovated floors. Inspired by the launch of the escalator at the Exposition Universelle 1900, Koolhaas wants to bring back the thrill with a pimped-up moving staircase ride.

Well, I certainly felt the “groovitational” rush and pulled up to the beauty department, now located on the second floor. No shock to you, I’m certain.

Designed by Rem Koolhaas, the new dichroic film-coated escalators at Saks not only twinkle, but also throw flashes of color on the white walls and columns. (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Designed by Rem Koolhaas, the new dichroic film-coated escalators at Saks not only twinkle, but also throw flashes of color on the white walls and columns. (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Fool-for-fanciful: I could almost hear the Breakfast at Tiffany’s soundtrack softly a-do-doing as I exited 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 exited Bergdorf Goodman. (Photo by Theadora 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 many movies to feature this hotel.

According to the Bergdorf Goodman designer Sam Theis, the current installation gives props to props: Showcasing the collections with “surrealism, comedy, and color.”(Photo by Theadora Brack)

According to the Bergdorf Goodman designer Sam Theis, the current installation gives props to props: Showcasing the collections with “surrealism, comedy, and color.”(Photo by Theadora Brack)

Tip: Last year, for the first time ever, I 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: Historic photos of the vitrines, advertisements, and sketches by Balenciaga and Dior.

Then, as I flew though the fragrance department, I completely lost my head over the spicy Twilly d’Hermès Eau Poivrée. I sprayed it not only my wrists, but also on the back of my neck—letting the cat out of the bag. Where did I not spray it? I could almost hear Henry Mancini’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s soundtrack softly a-do-doing as I made my exit with a tiny new bottle in hand, glowing and feeling toasty to the core.

As Deborah Kerr said to Cary Grant in An Affair to Remember, “Winter must be cold for those with no warm memories.”

That goes double for chocolate and perfume.

Happy Galentine’s Day!

Theadora

Oodles of poodles: Gal pals shopping at Bergdorf Goodman, 1960s, 7th floor exhibition. #ACCESSORYGOALS #HAIRGOALS

Oodles of poodles: Gal pals shopping at Bergdorf Goodman, 1960s, 7th floor exhibition. #ACCESSORYGOALS #HAIRGOALS

 

 

 

 

41 thoughts on “New York City: Celebrating Galentine’s Day on Fifth Avenue

  1. Having lived in the NYC metro area for a number of years you took me back to the place I loved. I used to travel to New York on business and then got the opportunity to live there. We used to ply the stores you describe and enjoy what the city had to offer. It was a great life and ended too soon. We experienced both Connecticut and downtown living. Of the two, downtown was not beatable. Thank you so much for the memories.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And as you know, I’m a big time fan of your vitrine shots. The feeling is mutual. I love the way you plan with the windows and reflections. The Man’s Shop since 1940 is absolutely gorgeous snap. Perfect timing!
      Theadora

      Like

      • I caught a glimpse of him out of the corner of my eye and waited 😊. As we end up with more empty storefronts, there are more opportunities for reflections and mysterious dark spaces! Lemonade I guess

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Love this post Teddy…it’s making me want to hop on the Bolt Bus (about $60 roundtrip from DC) next week and go to NYC just to go to all the places you’ve mentioned. I’m usually there for my work, but I would love to go just to spend a languid couple of days, strolling and looking at “girly stuff”. I don’t get to do enough of that whenever I’m there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great to hear from you, Renee! The Bolt Bus? Sixty dollars? What a great deal. Yes, you should make the time for a trip to the Big Apple for some girly stuff. There are some wonderful shows at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and MoMA, too. I spent an entire snowy day at the MET.See you soon, I am certain. It’s way too long.

      Like

  3. My cafe latte grew cold as I waked 5th Avenue. My nose pressed against the windows of delight. Nibbling on the very best treat – a bagel. The red cat bag. I am pea green with envy. New York shopping is a state of mind. Theadora, dear Theadora your magic carpet took me there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I completely agree, Virginia. New York shopping and window-shopping is a state of mind. I was not on the prowl for a handbag. Oh, no. But as I made my way to photograph the gilded elevators, she caught my eye. Stopped me in my fast-grooving tracks. On sale, of course! So how could I say no? Confession: I also purchased the same bag in black for my sister.

      Karl Lagerfeld often featured his favorite rescue cat in his collections. “Choupette” is a beauty.

      Big hugs,
      Theadora

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Thom! I always enjoy your New York window-shopping strolls. On the day I shot Fifth Avenue, it was cold. Even with my multiple-layers of clothing: Two coats, two scarves, and one pair of kitty gloves. It was worth it though. Not a cloud in the sky. Have I missed any of your fabulous Madison Avenue tours?

      More please!
      Theadora

      Like

    • Oh, thanks for your kind words! I thoroughly enjoyed digging through the old newspapers. Back in the day, the advertising copy really snapped. Beaucoup stars were also featured in the sometimes full-page ads. The Macy’s department store definitely knew how to push the Paris-copies!
      Theadora

      Like

  4. Sounds as if you had quite a time, T. One of my s-i-l’s works for Macy’s, so we have a bit of a connection there, although she’s not in NYC. I was thinking about escalators and how much fun they are and then about the very old days when some places still had elevators with someone inside operating them. Fund memories.

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the flashbacks, Janet. Yes, you’d love the escalators and the elevators at Macy’s on Broadway. Now in Paris, I recently spotted the old Otis escalators at Printemps on Boulevard Haussmann. They are clunky and loud but yet beautiful, in my book. (Are you planning any trips?)

      Enjoy the week,
      Theadora

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This post has been a celebration, a banquet, a festival of joy. You have a marvelous way of generating excitement, seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary. I love the Anais Nin quote – I think you will like this one too! “I look out the window and I see the lights and the skyline and the people on the street rushing around looking for action, love, and the world’s greatest chocolate chip cookie, and my heart does a little dance.”Nora Ephron, Heartburn

    Liked by 2 people

  6. A great post, as always, Theadora. When I lived in England, New York was the one place in the US that I always wanted to visit. Rather ironic then that after nearly 50 years in the US I’ve never yet been there. Your pictures and descriptions still make it seem very enticing. Perhaps one day I’ll be able to visit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, do add New York City to your must-see list. Repeating my words: There’s nothing quite like it in the world. The energy inspires, always. My heart soars.

      One more tip: I recommend staying at one of the old Pennsylvania Railroad Station hotels from 1920s. I’ve stayed at the New Yorker and the Stewart Hotel. Groupon often offers room deals, hovering around one hundred bucks. Beautiful lobbies.

      And located next to fantastical bakeries. I could go on and on . . .
      Theadora

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for the memories of New York. Lived there a few months in ’79. Gone back countless times… Still is one of my top 5 cities in the world. (need to go back soon…)
    A bientôt chère amie.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Top five cities? I completely agree. The sights. The sounds. The energy. Nothing quite like it in the world. I guess Paris is on your list? Please reveal the others . . .

      And as always, thanks for your kind words,
      Theadora

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Theadora, I’ve just ended this tempting shopping with you and found I did not visit New York for a long time. It looks I have to come there to walk along the 5th Avenue and not only. All the time after reading your lovely posts I feel temptations to go somewhere or to do something. You are definitely talented to write so provocative posts. Wow…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Alexander! Oh, the feeling is mutual. You are quite the wordsmith and photographer, too. What thoughtful words! You made my day. My week, actually! Thanks for the Pep Talk. (And yes, do add 5th Avenue to your New York City must-see list. The New York Public Library is a gorgeous building. No admission. Gift shop. And art exhibitions!)

      Are you planning any future trips?

      Theadora

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am planning my future trips in my dream all the time. Unfortunately, I am still pretty busy with my job and cannot fly like bird anytime and anywhere.
        However, I definitely will come to Big Apple some day again. I love it. And I have to meet couple of my friends. Life is short and sometimes we are too late to meet our dear friends.
        Nothing is more important than Love and Friendship.
        I am happy to have you as a Friend and looking forward to read your posts and see your pictures. You are opening the window to your Wonderful World.
        Thank you! 😍

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I live upstate now but grew up right across the river where we’d gaze at the skyline from my aunts’ and uncles’ houses. I attended NYU and took amazing art history classes at the Met. Once married I moved to Brooklyn and mingled with the ultra wealthy women of the Junior League who lived in amazing brownstones with real Cezanne paintings hanging on their walls. When my children were young we’d visit Central and Prospect Park all the time. Such fond memories. I think my favorite thing about New York though was the gruff but good-hearted police men I’d occasionally meet. 🙂 They are a special breed.

    Both of my children hurried back to the city after a few years of farm life. One lives on the Upper East Side while the other in the Financial District. Your post made me very happy today, Theadora!

    Like

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