MAS Proposed Downtown Landmark #4

landmark
Where: 418-434 Fulton Street
When: 1870s
Why: Abraham & Straus was founded as Joseph Wechsler & Company in 1865. In 1883, the owners purchased the recently constructed, mansarded French Second Empire style cast iron “Wheeler Building” on Fulton Street, converting it into their fashionable emporium. In 1884, a handsome Romanesque Revival style warehouse of golden brick and stone was added on Livingston Street.
Architecturally Significant Buildings [Municipal Arts Society] GMAP

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  • This one’s my favorite so far. Looks like it belongsin Soho. Must get amazing light.

  • Unfortunately, the windows don’t open into the selling floors, probably offices or stockrooms. Before A&S was gobbled up and became Macy’s, it was one of the finest department stores in the city. The main floor elevator court is an Art Deco dream. It’s now been turned into a selling space, but the architecture is untouched. Many years ago during the Christmas holidays, A&S would suspend a huge, lighted and decorated Christmas tree from the ceiling of that elevator court. It was something truly beautiful to behold, and the colored lights reflected and sparkled in the mirrored walls above the elevator doors. The store used to be a destination at Christmas time for families because of how beautiful their holiday windows were and how gorgeous the interior looked all decked out. There used to be 8 floors of retail space in the old A&S, in addition to an annex at the corner of Livingston & Hoyt Streets (the annex closed decades ago). Now the store has barely six floors of selling space filled with largely mediocre merchandise. What a shame. At least the exterior is mostly intact. Let’s hope it stays that way.

  • I can’t believe this hasn’t been landmarked already. I thought the elevator court was landmarked years ago, which is the only reason it’s survived thus far…

  • The building is great but I dont know what era of A&S you are talking about b/c at least since the 80′s, that A&S (and probably all) was a crappy store, with crappy merchandise and crappy sales people – and Federated kept the tradition with the current Macy’s

  • David, the era I’m talking about for A&S was the 1960s…maybe you weren’t born yet….

  • That explains it then! :)

  • The funny thing about the preservation discussin for this building is that those cast iron columns were frowned upon in the late 1800′s as the “prefab construction” of their day. They were created in two-column and an arch at a time and (usually in Brooklyn) sent to the site. Lots of downtown Manhattan buildings have the same columns. The book Gotham has a great discussion on it.

  • Can anyone tell me if there are any pictures around of the elevator bank and suspended christmas tree that you are talking about.
    Is the store still open? Has it changed?

    I have been long since gone from there and need to find some information for a book.

    Please write me at my email address if anyone can help.
    thank you NS

  • I have a photo of the tree from the late 50s early 60s – it was a post card issued by A&S.

  • NS – what is your email address – I can provide a photo for your book if you need.

    Michael.
    516-662-1927. I work right near the store and my wife’s uncles were VPs there. I can provide any information as needed.

    mlettera@aol.com