In spite of rubber-neck wagons and personally con- ducted tours, the best way of seeing Fifth Avenue remains the cheapest —the upper deck of a stage. And the least observant tourist, viewing the street from this dizzy platform, must notice the sudden transformation at Thirtyfourth Street…
From ten o’clock to six, it is as though twenty matinees were letting out at once —in winter a dark, rich mosaic of fur coats; in May, a rippling flower-bed.
You are entering by its main gate the Woman’s City, the Ladies’ Acre, the eight or ten square blocks of New York which the spending sex holds as its very own. For here, after the last nervous northward movement, settled the more ambitious department-stores and the larger specialty shops. The business of ministering to woman’s more expensive wants is massed in this district as definitely as the theaters are massed between Times Square and Columbus Circle. A few stragglers have settled in the region of Thirty-fourth and Broadway; one daring establishment, as though anticipating the future, has erected its new building at Fiftieth Street just opposite St. Patrick’s Cathedral; the oldest of all has held the fort for fifty years at Astor Place. These, I think, are the only important exceptions.
In the Woman’s City — eight blocks of Fifth Avenue with spurs running westward along the cross-town arteries of Thirty-fourth and Forty-second —the rest have erected their eight or ten story buildings with ground areas of half a block.…Your grandmother, middleaged madame, bought her crinolines and basques in Canal Street; your mother her shirt-waists and brush braid in the Ladies’ Mile between Union Square and Madison Square; you purchase your transparent hose and your sport sweaters in the Woman’s City above Thirty-fourth Street. And it is not unlikely that your greatgranddaughter will shop for her synthetic diamonds and her Tibetan sandals in this identical spot.…
The street is smartest at about ten or eleven in the morning, when the rich, taking advantage of their leisure, shop early and avoid the rush.…
So at this time of day gleaming limousines and imported berlines line all the curbs, and correct chauffeurs, guarded by equally correct and important chows or police-dogs, gaze impersonally on the distance. Presently madame emerges, usually in the expensive simplicity of clothes that are all lines and a hat that is all shape.…
Before the war there may have been some excuse for a woman’s going to Europe for the purpose of adorning her person or her house. But since New York became by a capricious gift of the gods financial capital of the world, her only excuse is the excitement of the trip.
Abercrombie & Fitch Company , Madison Avenue and 45th Street. The greatest sporting goods store in the world. Outfitters for travelers everywhere.
Farr Company , 10 East 48th Street. Tailored sportswear of exceeding smartness for the traveler. Sport hats, scarfs, sweaters.
R. H. Macy & Company , 34th Street and Broadway. New York’s Largest Department Store. This store, which has won a national reputation for selling good merchandise at lowest-in-the-city prices, is notable also as a point of interest to visitors, by virtue of the fact that its recent addition is the tallest department store building in the world.
Lord & Taylor , Fifth Avenue and 38th Street, one of the foremost retail establishments in America, is conveniently situated for travelers, because it is within a five minute walk of the Grand Central and Pennsylvania Stations and many of the largest hotels.
Saks , Herald Square. Specialists in exclusive, moderately priced apparel for men, women, and children. Located in the heart of New York’s shopping and traffic centre at Broadway and 34th Street.
James McCreery & Company , 5 West 34th Street. A modern department store with fine old traditions and a history dating back to 1858. Eight selling floors are laden with choice merchandise from the markets of the world. Home of the famous McCreery Silks.
Best & Company , 372 Fifth Avenue. Importers and leading fashion outfitters to women, misses, children, infants, men, and boys; established in 1879 in the time of “old” New York as the Liliputian Bazaar, has steadily grown until today its reputation as one of the leading fashion houses of the United States is international in scope.
Worth , 34th Street. Dresses, coats, suits, furs, millinery, the entire product made in their own plant. An unusual store centrally located.
Mark Cross , 404 Fifth Avenue. Leather goods, gifts, luggage, and all travel accessories. Trunks, bags, suit cases, toilet cases, etc., for short or long trips.
B. Altman & Company , Fifth Avenue and 34th Street. One of the institutions of New York City where the traveler always goes to shop.
Von Lengerke & Detmold, 349 Madison Avenue. A place of rare values moderately priced for the traveler who is looking for anything in the way of equipment for camping, hunting, and fishing.
Bonwit Teller & Company , Fifth Avenue and 38th Street. One of the leading women’s outfitters of the city of distinct appeal to the traveler.
C. G. Gunther’s Sons , 391 Fifth Avenue. Furriers for more than a century.
The Gimbel Brothers New York Store —major unit of the greatest retail institution in the world —is an establishment consisting of ten selling floors filled with a vast stock of all good sorts of merchandise for the home and for personal adornment. The Gimbel Store is situated at the conflux of traffic, being contiguous to both subways, the Pennsylvania Railroad Station, and in the midst of the great hotel district.
— The Rand McNally New York Guide, 1926