This month in real estate history

June 24, 2010 03:30PM

Saks-34th Street (l), Macy’s (r)

From the June issue: In 1965, department store giant Gimbel Brothers announced it would shutter the flagship location of its moderately priced clothing retailer Saks-34th Street, across the street from Macy’s in Herald Square, 45 years ago this month. The decision to close was made in part because the building was outdated by modern shopping standards. The eight-story building at 1311 Broadway was constructed in 1902 and had no escalators. In addition, the site was closed because of confusion between the Saks-34th Street store and its more upscale counterpart, Saks Fifth Avenue. News reports said shoppers were not sure which products were offered in each store. And there was a broader trend of higher-quality retail shifting from Herald Square to Fifth Avenue starting in the 1920s. Gimbel’s bought Saks-34th Street and the not-yet-opened Saks Fifth Avenue for $8 million in stock in 1923. The Saks Fifth Avenue location at 611 Fifth Avenue at 50th Street opened in 1924. Discount retailer E.J. Korvette’s opened in the Saks-34th Street location after minor refacing with verticle marble strips on the building’s facade. In 1985 the building was refinished in reflective glass and renamed Herald Center. Click here for more historical real estate news. Compiled by Adam Pincus