The Macy’s at 34th Street in Herald Square is still undergoing renovation but one question on many a vintage-fan’s mind is: Will they replace the historic wooden escalators? The original commercial escalators were manufactured by Otis Elevator Company in 1902. A 2012 New York Times article reports that plans include “preserving 42 of the store’s 43 wooden escalators. (The 43rd is being dismantled and cannibalized for parts to keep the others going).”
It’s unclear whether this plan means keeping the wooden treads on some of the escalators, which make the elevators even more unique. Websites like VanishingNY and Forgotten NY have all reported on the replacement of wooden steps with metal over the years. You can see the metal treads in the photograph we took this past weekend:
The Macy’s escalators (wooden and metal) have caused injuries over the years with three reported cases of children severing fingers. In 2010, VanishingNY properly tracked down the culprit of the escalator to be one of the metal ones, in defense of the wooden escalators. Macy’s spokeswoman Elina Kazan released a statement saying their escalators were “properly maintained” in spite of a report just 8 months earlier that the department store owed $48,000,article, for “failed escalator inspections,” (via Gothamist).
Let’s hope in the next renovation there’s a way to preserve history and make the escalators safe