In 1860, the Bavarian-born Bloomingdale brothers, Joseph and Lyman, began selling ladies’ hoop skirts in a storefront on the Lower East Side; by 1872, they’d expanded their trade to a wider variety of European-made garments for both men and women, and moved their operations to a row house in then-unfashionable Midtown.
Within a few years this area would become home to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, streetcar service and a wealthy clientele, inspiring the brothers to open their flagship department store on 59th Street and Lexington Avenue. Encompassing an entire city block, the building was reconceived in the Art Deco style in 1930 by architects Starrett & Van Vleck, who also designed the flagships for Bloomingdale’s competitors Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor and more.
Known as the home of the “Big Brown Bag,” Bloomingdale’s offers seven-and-a-half floors of luxury goods, sportswear, accessories, jewelry, and home wares, as well as a ground-floor Visitor’s Center where you can consult a shopping concierge, check your coat and packages, receive a $50 gift certificate to be used in the store, and arrange to have your purchases delivered to your lodgings. Home to six different eateries, including an outpost of New York City’s famous Magnolia Cupcakes, you can easily spend half a day or more in this enormous shrine to shopping.