Saturday, December 25, 2010

Lord and Taylor, NYC, NY

On December 10, 2010, Susan, Rob and I made our traditional trek to NYC to see the Christmas decorations. On the way down to Penn Station, before seeing Macy's windows, we stopped off at Lord and Taylor's to catch a glimpse of their windows.  Even though they didn't take any pictures of me there, I was curious about how these wonderful Christmas windows began and searched the web.  I have written about the Rockefeller tree and Macy's Department Store.  Here is the last installment, which is the history of Lord and Taylor.

Looks like a city street, doesn't it.  It's actually this year's Christmas holiday displays in one of the windows at Lord and Taylor's department store.  In fact, Lord and Taylor was the first store to use their windows for elaborate holiday displays at Christmas rather than merchandise as other stores had done.

Lord and Taylor was founded in 1826 by Samuel Lord, and immigrant from England, and his wife's cousin, George Washington Taylor.  Their first store was located on Catherine Street in Manhattan and sold hosiery, misses' wear and elegant Cashmere shawls.

In 1861, they moved their store to Broadway at Grand Street and in 1870, they moved again to a newly constructed cast iron building on Broadway and 20th Street, an area known as the "Ladies' Mile". From there they moved again to their present location on Fifth Avenue in 1914, becoming the first store to reside there.  The building, designed by Starrett and van Vleck, became their headquarters and flagship store and is located between 38th and 39th Streets.  Towards the end of 2007, it was designated as a New York City landmark.

In 1916, Lord and Taylor became a founding member of the American Dry Goods Company, soon to become the Associated Dry Goods Corporation. 
In 1921, Dorothy Shaver started at the store in 1921 to promote and market dolls that her sister Elsie had created.  The dolls were known as the "Five Little Shavers."  She joined Lord and Taylor in 1924 and became head of the Comparative Shopping Bureau.  In 1927, she became a part of the Board of Directors and in 1931, she was appointed Vice President.  In 1937, she became First Vice President and 1945, Dorothy Shaver became the first woman president in the United States.  In 1946, she became the first woman president of a major Fifth Avenue department store.  She remained as President until her death in 1959, but her legacy lives on.  Her many innovations at Lord and Taylor are still continued today.

The store began to expand with the opening of the Manhasset, Long Island store in  1941 with several more opening up across the country. This includes stores in Connecticut in 1969, Atlanta, Houston and Dallas, Michigan and four stores in Illinois in the 70's.
In the early 80's, Lord and Taylor expanded to eleven stores in south Florida. At one time, Lord and Taylor had 86 stores across the United States.

Amidst structural changes, Lord and Taylor lost its former position as the fashion leader in the 80's and 90's to Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus and Nordstroms.

Today, thanks to more restructuring changes in 2003, Lord and Taylor has made strong signs in turning around its financial position.  In September of 2010, the store is looking toward its first expansion in 10 years with the opening of a second store in Westchester County, NY.  It is scheduled to open in 2012.

Here are some other links with more history information.

Wikipedia article:

Article in Fortune Magazine, 2008

Lord and Taylor official website

pictures of present and former Lord and Taylor stores


1 comment:

  1. Nice job of searching the web,Clyde, to find out about the history of Lord and Taylor. I really enjoyed reading about it!