Wandering in the streets of New York, you will never have enough of the city’s big attractions. We are talking about “the Big Apple” here —and so should be your expectations, BIG! But, if you want an expert opinion, we recommend that you add shopping to your agenda and put Macy’s on the very top of that.
From a small shop selling dry goods to an 11-level department store, Macy’s in New York City is now an icon of America. With its Red Star trademark now known to the globe, this department store has become the flagship of New York City.
Macy’s is one of the oldest department stores in the US, with multiple branches in different states. But Macy’s Herald Square in Manhattan is by far the largest—it is the largest in America! Built over an entire city block, Macy’s Herald Square has more than a million feet of retail space. They are selling almost everything from the latest fashions to furniture.
If you want to know more before you go, this article will give you good information about almost everything related to Macy’s: its history, its location, its sections and its holiday celebrations. Read on for a thorough review of the department store that will make your shopping experience the best there is!
Table of Contents
The History of Macy’s: When & Where It All Began
Macy’s story with New York City started in 1858 as a new goods store coming to compete with peers located on Manhattan’s Sixth Avenue. It opened between 13th and 14th streets as “R. H. Macy Dry Goods”.
Run by Margaret Getchell, a cousin of Macy, the department store prospered thanks to an excellent advertising strategy that was further bolstered by a reputation for good value. That was after the American Civil War, which ended in 1865.
In 1887, an acquisition deal was sealed, granting Nathan and Isidor Straus part interest, and it became official in 1888. They had complete control over the department store in 1896 and moved it to its current location in Herald Square in 1902. From there, the Straus family started expanding their store by building branches across the US.
In 1994, the department store was acquired by Federated Department Stores, a holding company based in Cincinnati. It was not until 2007 that the company renamed itself Macy’s Inc. After 150 years in business, Macy’s has 504 stores in 46 American states, all bearing the red star trademark, derived initially from a tattoo borne by the store’s founder.
Macy’s Herald Square: The Start of a Booming Business
Relocating to New York City’s Herald Square, an active shopping hub, Macy’s has since been standing on the iconic intersection between 34th Street and Broadway. This is the main outlet of Macy’s, which is considered the largest department store in terms of retail sales in the US.
Macy’s Herald Square is 2.5 million square feet with a retail space of 1.25 million square feet. Yes, you got those figures correct! Now you have an idea why it is the largest department store in the US and one of the largest worldwide. A store as big as Macy’s Herald Square was rightly named the flagship of New York City. It is now a New York attraction in its own right.
If you haven’t seen Macy’s, you haven’t seen New York.New York City Fair 1964-1965
For generations, Macy’s has been the go-to mega store for an all-out shopping experience that goes beyond everyday purchases. This legendary department store in Herald Square is home to high-end brands, such as Burberry and Gucci, and more affordable marques, like Dolce Vita and Camuto.
Ladies will definitely like that! Macy’s is offering all female visitors free styling services. The My Stylist @ Macy’s program was launched in 2015 to help ladies choose the best outfits for different occasions. Remember: an appointment should be made ahead of time.
What Is Left of the Old Macy’s?
Dating back to the 1920s, the wooden escalators of Macy’s are all that is left of the old department store, which underwent renovations in 2015 to give its current touch of modernity.
Those old escalators were made of oak and ash that remained intact until today. However, the mechanical parts of the escalators have been equipped with modern safety measures. The old escalators of Macy’s Herald Square were built between 1920 and 1930. Remember to use them to get a sense of what “old is gold” really is!
Macy’s Holiday Celebrations
Macy’s is not only about shopping. Visiting the department store during the holidays will be like adding fun to the shopping experience. Why? Because Macy’s is celebrating as well!
Thanksgiving Parade Ending outside Macy’s Herald Square
If you happen to be in New York City on Thanksgiving Day, remember to witness a three-hour parade that roams the streets of Manhattan and ends just outside Macy’s Herald Square.
Macy’s has been holding this parade ever since 1924. Set your clock to 9;00 a.m. — that’s when the annual parade begins. The parade has been aired on NBC since 1953.
The Thanksgiving Parade in New York City is the world’s largest. Macy’s employees take to the streets to participate in the different shows that feature helium balloons that are so large that they could be the height of a six-storey building. The Thanksgiving parade will also be exciting for children, who will enjoy watching massive balloons of their famous cartoon characters on the streets.
Trivia: Remember that Friends episode “The One Where Underdog Gets Away”? Yep, that’s the Thanksgiving Parade we are talking about here!
Macy’s Christmas Celebration
The idea to celebrate Christmas at Macy’s was first made public in 1861. Back then, the store announced that Santa arrived at Macy’s to offer the best Christmas gifts to visitors. The advertising strategy was one reason the department store prospered in its first years in business.
Welcome to Macy’s Santaland!
“Merry Christmas, everyone!” shouts Santa Claus, who is brought to Macy’s Herald Square every year for a meet-and-greet event at this flagship store. This is Macy’s Santaland, an annual event which also includes a puppet theatre.
This attraction continued through 1997. Other interactive elements were then introduced, adding to the entertainment and fun featured at Macy’s Santaland as guests wait to meet the jolly man in the red suit.
In 2010, guests were allowed to reserve their meeting with Santa in advance. Life was even made easier with a Santaland Express train installed to ferry those guests to the North Pole to see Santa at their scheduled time.
After a Covid-19 recess, Santaland was back in 2021, with Santa Claus sitting behind his desk to enforce social distancing among visitors who came to celebrate Christmas at Macy’s Herald Square.
Marvel at Macy’s Holiday Window Displays for Christmas!
Bracing for the holiday season, Macy’s Herald Square also dresses up for Christmas with out-of-this-world window decorations that are usually unveiled the Thursday before Thanksgiving Day and are kept until 1 January.
Macy’s window displays are not only the best but also the oldest in the US. Macy’s was the first department store to decorate its windows on 14th Street in 1874. The trend continued even after they moved to Herald Square.
Each year, Macy’s Herald Square gets decked out with festive materials that are carefully picked to promote a unique theme and reflect the magical message they want to send. Macy’s window displays are a key part of Christmas celebrations in New York City. You will surely want to see that!
Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks
Macy’s flagship store in Herald Square has its own way to mark America’s Independence Day. The Fourth of July fireworks are an annual show organized by Macy’s Herald Square that will leave you jaw-dropped.
Thousands of shells are fired every year from five barges along the East River, filling the night sky of New York City with gleaming sparkles—quite an explosive celebration! The fireworks last for 25 minutes of the festivities, which begin at 8:00 p.m. with live music performances. Macy’s is indeed the biggest Independence Day celebration in New York City that you should not miss.
Macy’s Flower Show
This is a two-week show that starts on March 26 through April 9 of each year. The floral-filled exhibition is organized by Macy’s Herald Square, which is decorated to fit a specific theme.
Macy’s first floor gets decorated with thousands of flowers, plants and even trees as part of this awe-striking show, which, by the way, is free! You will enjoy the blooms while shopping at Macy’s Herald Square in New York City.
A Wow Experience at Macy’s Herald Square
One visit to Macy’s Herald Square is sure not enough to explore this mega store, benefit from its big deals and purchase its chic brands. All those details make shopping at Macy’s Herald Square such a WOW experience. The 11-storey department store is a must-see for an unforgettable trip to the city so nice, New York.