The nation’s largest department store, Macy’s Herald Square, is arguably its most famous too. Located on busy West 34th Street in Midtown, this mega-emporium has been in business at its current location for well over a century. (It started as a small store on the corner of 14th Street and Sixth Avenue in 1858.) During that time, the retailer has become much more than a shopping destination: it’s now a tourist attraction in its own right. Generations have come here to purchase clothing, housewares and accessories, which are spread out over its 11 floors (or 10.5, depending how you count) and 1.1 million square feet of retail space. It’s also the brand’s flagship, and associated with beloved annual events like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Where is it?
151 W. 34th St. The store covers an entire city block, from Broadway to Seventh Avenue and West 34th to West 35th Streets, with its main entrance on 34th Street.
How do I get there?
Practically every subway goes to 34th Street-Herald Square or nearby 34th Street-Penn Station, including the 1, 2, 3, A, B, C, D, E, F, M, N, Q, R and W lines.
What are the best times to shop?
The store is least crowded on weekday mornings and less busy than normal the last two hours up until closing (midnight on most nights).
What shouldn’t I miss?
The store’s wooden escalators—they date back to the 1920s. There’s also a memorial plaque at the main entrance that’s dedicated to former co-owners of Macy’s, Isidor and Ida Straus, who died on the Titanic.
Is there anything special about their footwear floor?
Approximately 39,000 square feet on the second floor is devoted to women’s shoes—a place where any shoe lover could get lost for a few hours. High-end brands like Gucci and Burberry are displayed next to the more affordable Dolce Vita and Vince Camuto. (For a full listing of offerings, floor by floor, see the store directory.)
Is there anywhere to eat?
There are plenty of in-store dining options including indoor food trucks Taquitoria and Tabo Noodles; the Herald Square Café; Au Bon Pain; Rowland’s Bar and Grill; and the sit-down Stella 34 Trattoria.
I’m ensemble challenged. Can anyone help?
Yes: My Stylist @ Macy’s program is free and available to all customers. Macy’s pairs customers with a stylist who can help inform them of options and put outfits together. You must make an appointment for this service.
I’m in town for the Thanksgiving Day Parade. How can I watch?
Macy’s held its first Thanksgiving Day Parade, actually advertised as the Christmas Parade, in 1924. It was organized by its immigrant employees to celebrate American customs. Featuring music, floats, animals and the chance to meet Santa Claus, the event drew an estimated 250,000 spectators along its route, which started up at 145th Street. Today, millions line Manhattan’s streets for a glimpse of their favorite floating balloons. The parade begins at 9am at Central Park West and 77th Street, heads south and ends in front of Macy’s Herald Square, with Santa’s float being the main attraction.
When else has Macy’s been on television?
Macy’s is best known on the silver screen for being featured in the opening scene of the classic 1947 Christmas movie Miracle on 34th Street. However, that wasn’t the first time it appeared on film; that honor goes to the 1905 silent short The Kleptomaniac. Since then Macy’s has been in a number of films and TV shows including King Kong (the 2005 remake), Ocean’s Eleven (again, the remake, from 2001), Seinfeld and Friends.
Anything else I should know?
- Macy’s was the first major retailer to hold a New York City liquor license.
- It was the first to have a female in an executive-level position: Margaret Getchell was promoted from clerk to superintendent in 1865.
- Macy’s was also the first department store to feature holiday window displays.
- There’s an NYC Official Information Center on the mezzanine level, where you can get a visitor savings pass that gives you 10 percent off of Macy’s purchases.