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Miracle on Fulton Street: Fate of Brooklyn’s Macy’s stores remains uncertain

Macy’s Closing 100 Stores Across the Country

August 12, 2016 By John Alexander Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Macy’s Downtown Brooklyn Department Store on Fulton St. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
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Macy’s has announced that it will be closing 100 of its 675 department stores across the country, with most set to close by early next year.  Macy’s has already closed 90 stores over the past six years and has only opened 13 new ones.

Since it has not yet been announced which stores will be shutting down, the fate of the Macy’s New York City locations is unclear.  Macy’s has two stores in Brookyn — the Downtown Brooklyn building at Fulton Street and an anchor store at King’s Plaza mall.  

The iconic “Great American Department Store” was established in 1858 and located on the corner of 14th Street and Sixth Avenue in Manhattan. It was founded by Rowland Hussey Macy. According to the Macy’s official website, first-day sales totaled $11.06, but by the end of the first full year, sales grossed approximately $85,000. By 1877, R.H. Macy & Co.  had become a full-fledged department store.

Macy’s became known for its creative merchandising and was also the first retailer to hold a New York City liquor license. By 1902, Macy’s had outgrown its modest storefront and relocated to its present Herald Square location on Broadway and 34th Street. By 1922, Macy’s began to open regional stores, and, according to “Macy’s, Inc. History,” in 1924, Macy’s Herald Square became the “World’s Largest Store,” with more than 1 million square feet of retail space.  

Also in 1924, Macy’s organized the first Christmas Parade with a procession of floats, bands and animals from the zoo.  This would become the forerunner of a Macy’s tradition, the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade. The store and the parade were immortalized in the classic 1947 movie “Miracle on 34th Street,” starring Maureen O’Hara and a young Natalie Wood.

Macy’s Fulton Street location opened in 1873 and was expanded in 1929 and 1947. By 1883, the building became the flagship for the department store Wechsler & Abraham, the forerunner to Brooklyn’s renowned Abraham & Straus (A&S).

According to an Aug. 12, 2015 article in the Daily News, Macy’s agreed to sell a stake in the building on Fulton Street to real estate giant Tishman Speyer, who would pay $170 million in cash for the properties and an additional $100 million to help the retailer renovate its store. Hopefully, this bodes well for the future of the Downtown Brooklyn location.

The Kings Plaza Macy’s opened in 1970 near the Marine Park/Mill Basin section of Brooklyn on Avenue U in Flatbush. The mall’s other anchor store was the now-shuttered Alexander’s Department Store.

While the fate of all Macy’s stores remains unknown at this time, it would certainly be a shame to lose either of the two Brooklyn locations. Here’s hoping for a miracle on Fulton Street … and on Flatbush Avenue.


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