Like so many city buildings, it has a fascinating past. High above the building’s name on the facade are five emblems with faded red stars painted inside.
The (admittedly very faded) red stars? They’re all that remains of what once was a Macy’s department store, completed in the early 1890s.
In the boom years after the Civil War, Macy’s became a huge success, spawning other Macy’s stores and many dry-goods imitators along the block and turning this stretch of 14th Street into a shopping mecca (below).
From the very beginning to the present day, Macy’s has used a red star as its logo—reportedly inspired by founder Rowland Hussey Macy’s red star tattoo, which he got while working aboard a whaling ship before becoming a wealthy retailer.
[Bottom photo of 14th Street: By Alice Austen, from the Alice Austen House]