Posts Tagged ‘Macy’s Department Store’

The strangest Macy’s Parade balloons ever

November 21, 2011

Macy’s annual Thanksgiving Day parade has been a city tradition since 1924, and the iconic balloons began appearing three years later.

Since then, beloved characters from Felix the Cat (the first balloon) to Kermit the Frog to Sonic the Hedgehog have made an appearance (or two).

And while most of the balloons are met with great applause, looking back, some seem like, well, weird choices.

Like this Eddie Cantor balloon from the 1940 parade (above).

Cantor was a top singer in vaudeville and on Broadway at the time, but was the bug-eyed star really that popular with the kids of the day?

These days, the reputation of New York City police officers has taken a beating.

But in 1937, a cop appeared in balloon form at the parade, seen here (at left) on Broadway and 56th Street. I wonder how that would go over today.

Santa Claus of course isn’t a strange choice for a parade balloon.Since the launch of the parade, he’s been at the tail end of the procession, the last float to be welcomed into Herald Square.

What I want to know is, why does this Santa balloon, from the 1939 parade, look like he has a penis attached to his chin?

The milk stations that saved the lives of city kids

November 3, 2011

After raking in a fortune as co-owner of Macy’s, Nathan Straus devoted himself to making life better for New York’s poor tenement dwellers.

In the depression years of 1892 and 1893, he gave away food and coal to thousands, and he built homeless shelters.

He also turned his sights toward what was dubbed the “white peril,” the raw, bacteria-ridden milk city children routinely drank—milk Straus and many experts believed was linked to New York’s high childhood mortality rate (two of Straus’ own kids had died young).

“Straus was convinced that the discoveries of Louis Pasteur offered the best hope for a remedy to the milk problem,” states

So in 1893 he built his own pasteurization plant on East Third Street, then opened 18 milk stations in the city, “which sold his sterilized milk for only a few cents and made free milk available to those unable to afford even that.”

Milk stations popped up everywhere: City Hall Park, Mott Street, Cherry Street, Washington Street, East 66th Street, Lenox Avenue, and eventually Columbus Circle (above, circa 1930), run by William Randolph Hearst’s wife.

When Straus showed health officials that childhood mortality rates had been drastically cut in neighborhoods with milk stations, the city—and soon all cities—banned the sale of raw milk.

Central Park and Prospect Park had their own milk stations: the dairies.

Where Macy’s got its modest start

July 1, 2009

$11.06. That amount was reportedly what Rowland Hussey Macy earned on the first day his new dry-goods store opened for business in a small building on the corner of Sixth Avenue and Fourteenth Street in 1858.

MacysBut after that slow start, the R.H. Macy store began grossing tens of thousands of dollars a year. It became a full-fledged department store in 1877 and eventually occupied many storefronts along West 14th Street (like the one in the photo at left).

Fourteenth Street was a more upscale shopping district at the end of the 19th century. But even then, department store moguls could see that the future of retail was farther uptown. 

So in 1902, Macy’s packed it up and relocated to a colossal new store at Herald Square on 34th Street—its current quarters today.

This weekend, Macy’s is sponsoring its 33rd annual Fireworks Spectacular, this time over the Hudson River. Macy’s pledged the first show as a tribute to America’s Bicentennial, and it quickly morphed into an Independence Day tradition.