Macy's Herald Square is famous for a lot of things, most of them holiday-related: Its animatronic window displays during the Christmas season, its starring role in the holiday classic Miracle on 34th Street, and its namesake Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Macy’s, of course, also helped popularize the department store concept, but perhaps the best-preserved piece of its history lies right underneath shoppers’ feet. Macy's department store in New York City has the last functioning wooden escalators in not just New York, but in the world, having steadily trundled shoppers for about 100 years.

Last Wooden Escalator in the World Celebrates 100 Years

Macy’s emerged in 2015 from a $400 million, four-year renovation that opened up and brightened the flagship store at Herald Square. A sealed-up entryway on 34th Street had been reclaimed. So were big bay windows on the sixth floor, which now frame views from the new Stella 34 Trattoria. But the modernizing impulse stopped at 20 Otis escalators of oak and ash that have steadily trundled shoppers from one floor to the next for as long as 100 years.


This escalator was built sometime between 1920 and 1930 by the Otis Elevator Company and still retains its distinctive Art Deco design, having a Steampunk/Dieselpunk feel. They're made of sturdy oak and ash, wood that's traditionally used in hardwood flooring, giving it a unique clacking sound unlike any other escalator. The mechanical parts have, for the most part, been updated, and modern safety measures have been put in place.

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When you watch and listen the video below, it sounds like an old wooden roller coaster more than an escalator. But just like wooden roller coasters, the wooden escalators at Macy's are a ride and attraction all of their own! Yes, while people come to shop, they make it a point to visit the marvel of 20th century architecture!

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