The new store helped transform “middle” Fifth Avenue from an elegant street of small shops and mansions to a commercial boulevard fronted by several department stores.
B. Altman went out of business in 1989. Yet the lovely flagship building still stands, taken over by CUNY’s Graduate Center.
The Fifth Avenue facade is stunning: the columns, the bays, and especially the “curving, Art Nouveau style metal and glass canopy, supported by elaborate wrought-metal brackets” above each entrance, in the words of the CUNY Graduate Center website.
These ornate entrances are essentially unchanged. “The B. Altman & Company building remains an exemplar of American neo-Renaissance commercial design, and a landmark in the cultural history of New York,” the CUNY site notes.
It’s a little slice of old New York beauty amid the express buses and Empire State Building crowds and throngs of shoppers.
Tags: Art Nouveau entrance, Art Nouveau in New York City, B. Altman & Company Fifth Avenue, B. Altman Building, Defunct department stores, Fifth Avenue department stores, Fifth Avenue street, ionic columns New York buildings