Skip to main content

Flagships of New York: Bloomie's and Barneys

The series Flagships of New York: The Great Department Stores continues with a look at Bloomingdale's and Barneys New York.

Bloomingdale's
1000 Third Avenue, 59th St.

In 1861, the sons of entrepreneur Benjamin Bloomingdale, Joseph and Lyman, opened Bloomingdale's Hoopskirt and Ladies' Notions Shop on the Lower East Side. Ten years later, with the hoopskirt going out of style, they opened their East Side Bazaar, expanding the business to offer a wider variety of women's fashions. In 1886 the brothers moved uptown to 59th Street and Third avenue. In 1930 Bloomingdale's built the grand Art Deco building that houses the current store, an ambitious presence that commanded a full city block. The opening of the Lexington Avenue subway line in 1915 took shoppers directly to the store, and the company capitalized on this convenience with the advertising campaign "All Cars Transfer to Bloomingdales."

Bloomingdale's flagship store. 1000 Third Avenue (pictured on Lexington side)

Bloomingdale's currently operates forty stores nationwide, including a store in the SoHo neighborhood of New York (504 Broadway). The store's parent company is Macy's Inc. (founded as Federated; R. H. Macy & Co. had merged with Federated in 1994). In 2006 the parent company, under the old Federated name (the change to Macy's Inc took effect in 2007), sold another famous New York department store, Lord & Taylor, to NRDC Equity Partners. (See Wikipedia entry on Macy's for the details. It's OK to be slightly confused following the storyline of New York department store ownership.)

Bloomingdale's features several places for hungry shoppers including Le Train Bleu, a fun dining experience in a replica of a French train car, on the 6th floor, 40 Carrots on the 7th floor (with a great frozen yogurt counter for a quick treat), and David Burke at Bloomingdale's on the 1st floor.

Check out the store's in-store display of holiday decorations. A "We Love New York" Christmas tree is decorated with elaborate ornaments representing the city, including taxis, the subway, tourist busses, the skyline,and the New York Yankees logo.

For this year's holiday window displays facing the street, Bloomingdale's went digital, moving away from the traditional mechanical and artisan windows of traditional displays. The windows are filled with flat screen displays showing images of winter landscapes.

As a personal recommendation, the winter coat sale at Bloomingdale's is worth checking out for bargains on quality coats. The Lexington Avenue line (4,5.6) makes getting in and out of Bloomindale's very easy, especially convenient during rough weather conditions.

Below, listen to a little of the sights and sounds of New York as pedestrians stroll past a window at Bloomingdale's during the holiday season. (Walking Off the Big Apple TV)




Barneys New York
660 Madison Avenue, between 60th and 61st

In the 1920s, Barney Pressman pressed pants. That was while working in his father's store. Barney founded his own store on Seventh Avenue and W. 17th St. in Chelsea, specializing in boy's and men's clothing. The store became successful, so over time Barney added floors and acquired additional space across the street. His son Fred joined the business following World War II. The father and son decided to concentrate on quality menswear, as opposed to inexpensively made clothing. According to the company history on fundinguniverse.com, by 1973 the store "was stocking 60,000 suits and employing 232 tailors for alterations."In 1976 the store introduced women's clothing. In the late 1980s Barney's America stores opened nationwide, and the company opened a store in the World Financial Center downtown.

Barneys, 660 Madison
The present-day flagship for Barneys New York, an expensive and opulent store on Madison between 60th and 61st Streets, opened in 1993. A few years later, financing for the company's rapid expansion ran into trouble, leading to bankruptcy proceedings. The company did recover. The original Chelsea store closed in 1997. (The store's shell has been repurposed in a nice way by the Rubin Museum.) According to Hoovers, the company is currently owned by "an affiliate of Istithmar PJSC, an investment firm owned by the Dubai government." (source) Barneys New York operates several stores around the country, along with co-ops and outlets. Fred's at Barneys Madison Avenue is a full-service restaurant.

The holiday windows at the Barneys Madison Avenue store are usually among the most clever in the city. Remember, once upon a time Andy Warhol designed them. For 2010, designer Simon Doonan created a "foodie" theme featuring well-known celebrity chefs. Read an interview with him at the wnyc website.

The celebrity chef divas in a window at Barneys
Paula Deen, Ina Garten, Martha Stewart, Sandra Lee
The men's turn
Anthony Bourdain, Daniel Boulud, Mario Batali, Bobby Flay, Emeril Lagasse, Wolfgang Puck

Images and video by Walking Off the Big Apple.


Read all the posts in this series, Flagships of New York:











Popular posts from this blog

Museums in New York Open on Mondays

Update: As of March 12, 2020, many New York arts institutions have temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 public health crisis. Please see this post for announcements of reopenings.

Several museums in New York City are open on Mondays, including MoMA, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Whitney.

This list has been expanded to include free or pay-what-you-wish hours.


American Museum of Natural History Central Park West and 79th Street
See the post, Big Things to See at the American Museum of Natural History.
Cooper Hewitt
2 East 91st St.

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 1071 Fifth Ave

Jewish Museum 1109 Fifth Ave

Metropolitan Museum of Art 100 Fifth Avenue
See the post 25 Things To Do Near the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Met Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park is also open 7 days a week from March - October.

Museum of the City of New York
1220 Fifth Avenue

MoMA (The Museum of Modern Art), 11 West 53 Street: * Also, consult the post 25 Things To Do Near the Museum of Modern…

The Lonesome Metropolis: A Walk from Grand Central Terminal to Rockefeller Center

As New York City reopens, why do the attractions of the great metropolis still look mostly deserted on a summer morning? A morning walk from Grand Central Terminal to Rockefeller Center sought to address this question. As it turns out, there are several adequate explanations. But for what happens next, there are no right answers.

Many neighborhoods outside of tourist New York are still buzzing along. While some residents of wealthier neighborhoods have largely decamped to mountain cabins, beach houses, and other second homes, the less wealthy have nowhere to go and may still be working. Just visit Washington Heights or Corona or Flatbush, and you’ll see sidewalks full of shoppers and summer evening street partiers. Those who fled the city remain only a fraction of the total population.  

Other renowned parts of the city such as City Hall and Brooklyn Bridge have been frequently occupied, as in Occupied, with crowds protesting police violence. This week, NYPD officers in riot gear remove…

The Company of Nature: Walking With Butterflies in Fort Tryon Park

If wandering the empty urban canyons feels a little lonely and depressing, a better idea would be to head to the nearest park. This past Saturday, a day that was sunny but not too hot, Fort Tryon Park in northern Manhattan turned out to be the perfect place to not only satisfy wanderlust but to rediscover the company of nature. Butterflies were there. Hundreds of butterflies - Tiger Swallowtails, Monarch Butterflies, Black Swallowtails, Cabbage White Butterflies, and Silver Spotted Skippers, among them. Moths, too, although I have not yet learned their names.  The Heather Garden is situated just beyond the entrance to Fort Tryon Park. With seasonal plantings, the garden is always a serene spot.  Observing butterflies involves watching their interaction with blooming flowers and shrubs. The Tiger Swallowtails are easy to find and found here in significant numbers. Just look for the Butterfly Bushes. The Cabbage White Butterflies are here in abundance, too, though not as showy as the swallow…

The City Turned Inside Out: A Walk from Battery Park to Fulton Street

While the cast of HAMILTON sings “The World Turned Upside Down,” New Yorkers could easily hum along to “The City Turned Inside Out” this summer. (not a real song) Where once a city’s important work took place indoors - within the soaring office buildings, famous restaurants, legendary museums, and storied performance halls, the COVID-19 epidemic has literally turned the residents outdoors. 

At least it’s summer in the city, when spending time outdoors is common and pleasant enough. Still, the city remains strange this summer of 2020. 

With the absence of tourists, and with office workers connecting virtually from home, many of the city’s main attractions aren’t attracting many visitors. A walk from the Battery to Fulton Street on a pleasant Thursday afternoon bore this out. 

It’s uplifting to at least find plants that are alive and happy. Thanks to the city’s gardeners and landscapers, the city parks are looking particularly lush and splendid this summer. The grounds of Battery Park feel…

A Weekend Walk on the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail

Imagine strolling from town to town near the eastern shores of the Hudson River, walking a well-trodden path lined with trees and stately architecture and with easy access to cafes, local shops, and train stations for an easy ride home. Imagine a weekend when the sun is bright and the sun is warm, and many other people - but not too many - are out enjoying the same weather and the same stroll. Such were the pleasures on a recent Sunday, in the latter part of this unseasonal winter, along the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail not too far north from New York City.


The Old Croton Aqueduct, the system that once delivered fresh water from the Croton River to New York City, was a huge and complex marvel of engineering. The trail sits on top of the aqueduct system. This post describes a walk along just a section of the trail, the one that begins at the Keeper’s House in Dobbs Ferry and ends in Irvington.


First, catch a Metro-North Hudson line train to Dobbs Ferry, a village in southern Westchester C…

Taking a Constitutional Walk

A long time ago individuals going out for a walk, especially to get fresh air and exercise, often referred to the activity as "taking a constitutional walk." The word "constitutional" refers to one's constitution or physical makeup, so a constitutional walk was considered beneficial to one's overall wellbeing. (Or, as some would prefer to call it, "wellness.") The phrase is more common in British literature than in American letters.

As early as the mid-nineteenth century, many American commentators expressed concern that their countrymen were falling into lazy and unhealthy habits. Newspaper columnists and editorial writers urged their readers to take up the practice of the "constitutional" walk.



One such essay, "Walking as an Exercise," originally printed in the Philadelphia Gazette and reprinted in New England Farmer, Volume 11, 1859, urges the people of farm areas to take up walking. City dwellers seemed to have the advantag…

Starstruck at MoMA

(Update July 31, 2020. Please note: After reopening in 2019, MoMA is currently closed as a result of the pandemic. MoMA has not announced its reopening.) 
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in Midtown Manhattan is undergoing a significant renovation and expansion that will increase gallery space by thirty percent upon completion in 2019. In the midst of renovation and following a long hot summer, the museum may currently look a little rough around the edges and even disorienting for longtime patrons. For starters, you’ll need to enter the museum on W. 54th Street instead of W. 53rd Street while the work is taking place, and the museum store is now currently on the second floor next to the coffee bar which has also moved.


This state of affairs didn’t stop visitors on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend from making a pilgrimage to the museum to gaze at treasures of modern art. In an age of quickly disposable digital imagery, the original and cherished works still exude their aura. Ironically,…

The Most Beautiful Bridge in the World

Swiss-born architect Le Corbusier (1887 - 1965), the leading proponent of the International Style of modern architecture, visited NYC on several occasions in the 1930s and 1940s, and he made much to say about the skyscraper city. He didn’t think much of the faux tops of the tall buildings nor did he care about the haphazard city planning, but he did fall madly in love with one particular bridge: 
"The George Washington Bridge over the Hudson is the most beautiful bridge in the world. Made of cables and steel beams, it gleams in the sky like a reversed arch. It is blessed. It is the only seat of grace in the disordered city. It is painted an aluminum color and, between water and sky, you see nothing but the bent cord supported by two steel towers. When your car moves up the ramp the two towers rise so high that it brings you happiness; their structure is so pure, so resolute, so regular that here, finally, steel architecture seems to laugh. The car reaches an unexpectedly wide apro…

Delacroix’s Cats

Following its record-breaking debut at the Musée du Louvre in Paris, the blockbuster Delacroix exhibit has opened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. While not all of the works could travel, as some are intrinsic to the Louvre, the big cats made the trip to the city. For the Delacroix exhibit poster, the Met has selected Young Tiger Playing with Its Mother, the artist’s great and surprising painting from 1830, as the signature and defining work of the exhibition.


Eugène Delacroix (French, 1798–1863), known as the leading Romantic painter of his era, loved cats. His many notebooks show preparatory sketches of lions, tigers, and several charming domestic cats. The big cats, for the most part, made it into big paintings. At 52 x 76.6 in. (130 x 195 cm), Young Tiger Playing with Its Mother, 1830, is astonishingly large for an animal painting of his time, a size normally devoted to a history painting. His most famous work, La Liberté guidant le peuple, dates from the same year.�…

NYC Re-openings and Travel Advice

As the pandemic crisis improves in New York State, several NYC attractions are scheduling their re-openings. What will open, and how will you get there? This list will be updated following official announcements.
UPDATED August 7, 2020. With the state of New York currently ahead of the class in the pandemic outbreak across the US, many favorite local destinations have started to reopen. The rollout is designed to be gradual, with geographic regions advancing according to a fixed set of metrics. 
New York City, the hardest hit area in the first months of the crisis, entered Phase 4 on Monday, July 20. The local exception: indoors of malls, restaurants, and cultural institutions.

Openings     
Phase 4 began in NYC on July 20. Stay outside! (Forward.ny.gov) NO indoor dining!
• Restaurants: Consult this NYC Department of Transportation map (updated link) for restaurants currently open in NYC. 
• Outdoor dining has been extended through October 31. 
• On July 1, city beaches opened for swimming.
•…