Home View from Underground On the subway’s 107th birthday, a Macy’s store

On the subway’s 107th birthday, a Macy’s store

by Benjamin Kabak

Today is an anniversary of sorts for our beleaguered subway city for 107 years ago on October 27, 1904, the Interborough Rapid Transit company launched the city’s first subway line. To celebrate, the MTA, one of its licensing partners and Macy’s unveiled a boutique in the Macy’s Cellar that will be hawking subway-themed merchandise through the end of the year.

The collection, created for Macy’s by Gouda, Inc., will be entitled NYC Underground, and the shop includes apparel, accessories and a variety of other products adorned with subway maps and route bullets. The store itself will be decorated with subway maps, station signs and benches and old metal straps from the now-reefed redbirds.

For the MTA, the store offers a chance to earn more on licensing. The authority is paying no rent to Macy’s and will enjoy prominent placement throughout the holiday shopping season. “As we look to make every dollar count across everything the MTA does, we’re working to enhance the value of the MTA brand and trademarks,” Paul Fleuranges, the authority’s Senior Director of Corporate and Internal Communications, said. “We are delighted to be able to do that with a prominent presence in such an iconic and world-renowned space.”

In exchange for the space, Macy’s will be slapping its logo on a variety of products for sale — including apparel with the subway map and Macy’s store. The MTA, which makes $500,000 a year in licensing fees and royalties, says this is its first foray into direct, co-branding collaborations. And to think, it took only 107 years.

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Anon256 October 27, 2011 - 6:21 pm

I was never clear why so much emphasis was placed on the 1904 date. There were plenty of elevated subway lines before then, including some sections of today’s J train that date back to 1885. The Park Ave Metro North tunnel opened in 1875 and made local stops at subway-like stations in its early years. I would date the birth of New York’s rapid transit system to the opening of the West Side (9th Ave) Elevated on June 11, 1870, though that structure no longer exists.

Frank B. October 27, 2011 - 6:58 pm

I think it’s because while there were subway stations of sorts made by New York Central down Park Avenue, and el’s throughout the city and Brooklyn, they were not owned or built by the IRT. The IRT leased the el’s throughout the city for 999 years, or something like that, and built the subway in 1900-1904, the oldest surviving SUBWAY (not elevated) line in the city.

The reason most don’t consider the Manhattan El’s the oldest parts of the system was that they were built by entities other than the IRT, the only surviving company from such an opening into the 20th century. While the BMT Broadway is definitely older and is part of the Subway SYSTEM, it is still an elevated line.

It may also have to do with the fact that most people only think of Manhattan as the central epicenter of New York City, and nothing of note can exist outside it, a sentiment that is clearly becoming less and less true.


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