Free enamel pin when you buy any two Atlas Obscura products. Shop now.

New York, New York

Macy's Wooden Escalators

A bit of retro transportation flair preserved in the world's largest department store. 

Macy’s Herald Square is famous for a lot of things: Its animatronic window displays are the talk of the town, and it is the site of the “Miracle on 34th Street” as well as home to the world’s top Santas. The store pioneered the department store model, but perhaps the best preserved piece of its history lies right underneath shoppers’ feet.

When the flagship store underwent massive renovations in 2015, it swapped many of its old-world features for more modern accoutrements. However, 20 wooden escalators stayed put.

They were built between 1920 and 1930 by Otis Elevator Company, which pioneered the machinery. They’re made of sturdy oak and ash, wood that’s traditionally used in hardwood flooring. The mechanical parts have, for the most part, been updated, and modern safety measures have been put in place. 

They might be updated regularly, but the nearly century-old escalators aren’t going anywhere, despite how much they might creak.

Know Before You Go

They are currently replacing the wooden slatted escalator stairs with metal stairs. As of yesterday (October 22, 2016) only the top 2 floors remain wooden.