4. Edwin Goodwin started out as a simple merchant in upstate New York

Bergdorf Goodman holiday windows
Little did Goodman know that he would take over the lavish store, known for its Christmas window designs.

Edwin Goodman grew up in Lockport in upstate New York (where the first district steam system was installed, coincidentally), coming from a family of German-Jewish shopkeepers. He dropped out of high school to work for a local tailor, and at 23 he took up an apprenticeship at Herman Bergdorf’s tailor shop around Union Square. The handsome Goodman, who came from humble origins, greatly impressed Bergdorf, and the two partnered together in 1901.

Just five years later, they moved the store to a new location on 32nd Street. Soon after, Bergdorf retired to Paris. Now that Goodman had full control of the business, he moved it further up 5th Avenue, opening up right near St. Patrick’s Cathedral. He did this to maintain proximity to his clients, many of whom lived along Fifth Avenue and near Central Park.