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Macy's Department Store (John Wanamaker Department Store)

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John Wanamaker Department Store
1904–1911, Daniel H. Burnham and Co. 1301 Market St.

The Wanamaker building fronts on Penn Square but its history is rooted in the ancient retail zone of east Market Street, while its Renaissance-based design pays homage to the merchant princes of Florence and attests to the national corporate taste of the early twentieth century. In 1861, Wanamaker founded his original store at 6th Street in the old downtown near Independence Hall, which was then the center of Philadelphia government and commerce. In 1874, he correctly foresaw that the location of the new City Hall at Broad and Market streets would eventually move the retail center west. He gambled, purchasing the Pennsylvania Railroad's old freight terminal and converting it into a “Grand Bazaar” complete with Moorish spires. Despite numerous later additions, the store continually required additional space. In 1904, Wanamaker commissioned Chicago architects Daniel H. Burnham and Co., to design his headquarters and store. Taking a page from the markets below Reading Terminal (PH45), Burnham constructed the western half of the new store first, leaving the larger eastern portion in operation. When the first portion was completed, retailing moved there and the eastern building was demolished and replaced with the mirror image. The recently restored stern granite facade belies the splendors within. Like a Renaissance merchant's palazzo, the store opens into a vast court at its center; this is roofed over and surrounded by a ten-story arcade that permits views across the entire building. Given pride of place below is a giant eagle painstakingly described in bronze down to its individual feathers by August Gaul. A highlight of Germany's Court of Honor at the St. Louis Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904, it was acquired by Wanamaker and moved to his great court where it became a favorite meeting spot of the Quaker City. The Wanamaker store's central place in the city gave nearly universal comprehension to the phrase, “Meet me at the Iggle [Eagle].” The gathering place is made more pleasurable by the immense organ with 461 ranks and 28,482 pipes—the largest in the world—that also came from the St. Louis fair.

Writing Credits

Author: 
George E. Thomas
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Citation

George E. Thomas, "Macy's Department Store (John Wanamaker Department Store)", [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/PA-02-PH47.

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of PA vol 2

Buildings of Pennsylvania: Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania, George E. Thomas, with Patricia Likos Ricci, Richard J. Webster, Lawrence M. Newman, Robert Janosov, and Bruce Thomas. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012, 81-81.

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