Thursday, November 27, 2008

Macy’s Department Store

Rowland Hussey Macy opened the doors of his "fancy dry goods store" in lower Manhattan in 1858. He was part of the movement which established Thanksgiving as the 4th Thursday in November and now defines the start of the holiday shopping season. In what’s become just as much of a tradition as turkey dinner with the family is watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving’s Day Parade. This year is extra special as Macy’s Department Store is celebrating is 150 anniversary. Scott sent me the following info about Macy’s Store history and souvenirs.

“Since 1924, Macy’s flagship store in Herald Square New York City, has been billed as the “World’s Largest Store.” The company produces the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which also started in 1924. Back in the 1920s, many of Macy's Department Store employees were first-generation immigrants who were very patriotic and proud of being new Americans. They wanted to celebrate the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving with the type of festivals they had loved in Europe.In 1924, the Thanksgiving Day Parade began with Macy’s employees who dressed in vibrant costumes and marched together. There were also floats, professional bands and live animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo. At the end of that first parade, as has been the case with every parade since, Santa Claus was welcomed into Herald Square. With an audience of over a quarter of a million people, the parade was such a success that Macy's declared it would become an annual event. Through the 1930s, the Parade continued to grow, with crowds of over one million lining the parade route in 1933. The annual festivities were broadcast on local New York radio through 1941.The parade was suspended for the duration of World War II, but resumed in 1945 using the route that it currently follows. The traditional parade became a permanent part of American culture after being prominently featured in the 1947 film, Miracle on 34th Street. The event was first telecast nationally in 1952. Today, every Thanksgiving morning when you’re cooking the turkey, you can watch the parade.There are only three known version of the Macy’s Department Store building. Most versions of the building are hard to come by. One example is a 4” tall lithograph tin. It’s thought to have had candy or popcorn inside, when it was sold at the store in 1987. Another version is the resin version of the building. It’s a bit smaller than the tin box, but accurately depicts the Macy’s flagship store down to the large shopping bag. It is more crudely made and most likely comes from a manufacturer in China.The latest version is a current one that depicts the department store inside of a snow globe. Made for the Christmas season, it features the familiar Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons surrounding New York City buildings (including the twin towers of the Word Trade Center) as the snow swirls around them. The end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade signals the official start of the Christmas shopping rush. Maybe you should consider a version of this historic department store to get or give this upcoming holiday season.” – Scott

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