5. Saks Fifth Avenue Was the First Department Store to Comply with Setback Requirements

Built in 1922-24, Saks Fifth Avenue was designed by department store specialists Starrett & Van Vleck. The “neo-Renaissance style retail palazzo” was constructed with consideration to the conservative, architectural character of Fifth Avenue, and the modern requirements of a luxury retail shop.

At the time of its construction, Starrett & Van Vleck needed to adhere to New York’s zoning law, which mandated that the upper floors of the buildings above a certain height had to be progressively setback from their lot-lines; Saks Fifth Avenue became the first department store to comply with these requirements. Its setback stories, which begin on the seventh floor, were reserved for administrative offices.