Are these the last wood escalators in New York?

It’s the perfect time of the year to visit Macy’s: for holiday shopping, browsing Christmas displays, and to pay homage to the wonderfully creaky old wood escalators that still ferry customers between floors.

Could they really date to 1902, as the store implies here?

Head to the middle of the store to find them, and though the escalators on each floor have wood handrails, only the ones between the eighth and ninth floors have wood steps.

Don’t miss the warnings (not in the photos) about avoiding them if you’re wearing stilettos!

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19 Responses to “Are these the last wood escalators in New York?”

  1. Parnassus Says:

    I recall similar wooden escalators in the Higbees department store in downtown Cleveland, but I understand that these have been removed in recent years.

    • Higbees The Christmas Story Says:

      Ahhh, the wonderful Higbees in Cleveland’s Public Sq. I remember fondly. It’s a Casino now but I think they may have saved those escalators. I think, not sure.

  2. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    When I worked there as stock boy for Christmas some years ago that was my favorite way to go up or down, though there were the elevators.

  3. alpo dawkins Says:

    Thanks for posting them!!! Glad to know they’re STILL alive and creeeeeekin! (always used to scare me)

    Date: Thu, 29 Nov 2012 07:07:38 +0000 To: alpodawkins@hotmail.com

  4. ledamato Says:

    It’s ironic that we were just up in NY for a wedding, did a little shopping and by chance rode the wooden escalator. I was amazed that it exists. I think there were a few left at Abraham and Strauss in Brooklyn when I worked there in the 80′s.

  5. Dave Says:

    They’re an incredible fire hazard, as we found out in Boston in 1994.

  6. Joe R Says:

    I have to look again but I think that the old Abraham & Straus flagship store in Brooklyn (now a Macy’s branch) has a wood escalator.

  7. EV Grieve Etc: Mourning Edition « NYC Real Estate News Says:

    [...] The last wooden escalators in NYC? (Ephemeral New York) [...]

  8. Gary Sullivan Says:

    FYI: My company manufactures escalator steps and many years ago was approached by Macy’s in house maintenance department asking us to quote on wooden escalator steps. At first I thought it was a prank call but visits to their Flagship store proved they existed. The wood that is used on these steps is quite specialized and yes these steps and the landing plates scare the heck out of me when I ride them during trips to NYC. One of the reasons it took many years to replace the wooden escalators at Macy’s was because of the revenue they lost with the units being out of service and the building was constructed around the escalators which made quite a challenge for any company to take on as a modernization project

  9. JPH-NY Says:

    Those wooden escalator steps bring back a ton of memories. My Mother would bring my sister & myself down to Herald Sq to shop when we were kids. I used to ride those steps up and down. They made the sweetest sound that I can remenber to this day!

    Also those trips includes a visit to the local Chock Full O’Nnuts for a treat!

    http://ephemeralnewyork.wordpress.com/2010/04/21/herald-square-then-and-now/

  10. John Says:

    FYI Up until 1996 & maybe still.The old S&C dept storein Philly had a wooden esc. Was about 100 yrs old at that. It was in the sub-basement where stock was kept.

  11. Upstate Ellen Says:

    Yes! I remember those old wood escalators – I can’t believe they are still in operation. When my grandmother was still in good health, she used to take me shopping at Macy’s Herald Square. Great memories.

  12. Joe R Says:

    I passed by Macy’s today and, to my surprise, the wood escalators are actually featured in one of their Christmas window displays on the Broadway side of the store. Here is photo of it (not mine): http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffdobbins/8218446120/in/photostream/ The text on the window says, “Clickety clack… Macy’s wooden escalators date to 1927. Their nostalgic sound still enchants.”

  13. wildnewyork Says:

    Love it Joe R, thanks for the link!

  14. Al Says:

    I swear I read that Macy’s would be restoring the wood elevators as part of their massive renovation. Has anyone seen that stated somewhere?

    Also, aren’t there more wooden escalators than just the middle ones between 8 and 9? I think perhaps some of the 7th Ave. building escalators.

    My only other experience with these was also with Public Square in Cleveland, in the 1990s: I want to say the old Higbee’s was a Dillard’s then? Don’t forget that’s also the store in A Christmas Story! :)

  15. Shannon Finch Says:

    I was just there last week… I haven’t lived in NYC long so it was only my 2nd visit. But I was thinking how cool those wood escalators were! :)

  16. Gina R Snape Says:

    I love the wooden escalators. But aren’t the ones to the cellar also still wood?

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