Meet me at the eagle wanamakers monorail

Wanamaker's: Meet Me at the Eagle (Landmarks): Michael J. Lisicky: Books

meet me at the eagle wanamakers monorail

A hat box from the Philadelphia John Wanamaker department store that Wanamaker's building and the expression “Meet me at the Eagle”. Wanamaker's: Meet Me at the Eagle (Landmarks) [Michael J. Lisicky] on Amazon. com. I remember riding the monorail, watching the light show, listening to the. Michael Lisicky, author of Wanamaker's: Meet Me at the Eagle, says he has never skipped a holiday celebration and still feels that announcer.

It was too small and due to its wood construction, a fire hazard too. Demolition and rebuilding happened in three phases: The store officially reopened in with the only department store dedication overseen by a US President.

Speaking to a crowd of 35, President William Howard Taft did the honors as an act of thanks for Wanamaker supporting his previous campaign.

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Extra steel girders beneath the floor support the 2, pound statue. He saw the store as incomplete without quality music. Like the eagle, the organ was acquired from the St. Manufactured by the Los Angeles Art Organ Company, the instrument contained 10, pipes and stops. Thirteen railroad cars were required to transport the organ to Philadelphia, and installation took two years.

The Grand Court with its organ on glorious display Photo: Dissatisfied with its sound, Rodman had the instrument enlarged with 8, pipes.

All work was done in a store workshop in a 12th floor attic by a staff of The organ as seen and heard today was finished in with an astounding ranks and 28, pipes. Organists from around the world travel to Philadelphia just to hear and play the worlds largest functioning pipe organ.

Two smaller organs also inhabited the building at one time. A rank pipe organ occupied the second floor Greek Hall until the s when it was replaced by a Hammond Electric organ. Grand Court fully decked out for the holidays Photo: Shadowbat During the holiday season, the organ took center stage as part of a light show held in the center court. Starting inelaborate displays formed what was called the Christmas Cathedral. Carols were accompanied by the Enchanted Fountains in front of the organ.

Based on the fountains of St.

Wanamaker's: Meet Me at the Eagle by Michael J. Lisicky | The History Press Books

The Pageant of Lights changed each year under the direction of store event promoter Fredrick Yost. Rapid suburbanization in the s led to the development of branch stores and later shopping malls. A plan was hatched in the late s for an ambitious redevelopment of Market East including hotels, offices, a train station to replace the Reading Terminal at Twelfth and Market as well as parking garages for suburbanites and tourists.

It was not until the late s and early 80s that the plan was somewhat realized in the form of the Gallery and related developments. By then Lit Brothers, another Philadelphia retail stalwart, had gone out of business. Penney opened as well. However the Wanamaker family had little desire to make significant investment, and they sold their interest in the store to Carter Hawley Hale on October 8, Detailed mosaics on the walls and ceiling of the entryways still bear the initials of John Wanamaker, despite many changes over the years Photo: At over 1 million square feet spanning 14 floors, the Center City location was considered too big for the market.

John Kusmiersky, head of U.

meet me at the eagle wanamakers monorail

An atrium was carved out starting at the ninth floor allowing daylight to penetrate the large floorplates and make the space appealing to high paying tenants. A conference center with two seat auditoriums was added as well. A new Juniper Street lobby provided entry to the new rooms.


To keep intrusions on the first floor viewed by the retailer as its most valuable space to a minimum, the office lobby was placed on the mezzanine level reached by escalators from Juniper Street. From there, tenants took the former store elevators to reach their offices starting on floor six.

Burnhamhad 12 floors 9 for retailnumerous galleries and two lower levels totaling nearly two million square feet. The palatial emporium featured the Wanamaker Organthe former St. Louis World's Fair pipe organ, at the time one of the world's largest organs. The organ was installed in the store's marble-clad central atrium known as the Grand Court.

meet me at the eagle wanamakers monorail

Another item from the St. Louis Fair in the Grand Court is the large bronze eagle, which quickly became the symbol of the store and a favorite meeting place for shoppers. All one had to say was "Meet You at The Eagle" and everyone knew where to go. Despite its size, the organ was deemed insufficient to fill the Grand Court with its music. Wanamaker's responded by assembling its own staff of organ builders and expanding the organ several times over a period of years.

The "Wanamaker Organ" is the largest fully operational pipe organ in the world, with some 28, pipes. It is famed for the delicate, orchestra-like beauty of its tone as well as its incredible power.

The organ still stands in place in the store today and free recitals are held twice every day except Sunday. Visitors are also invited to tour the organ's console area and meet with staff after recitals. News of the Titanic 's sinking was transmitted to Wanamaker's wireless station in New York Cityand given to anxious crowds waiting outside—yet another first for an American retail store.

Public Christmas Caroling in the store's Grand Court began in Other innovations included employing buyers to travel overseas to Europe each year for the latest fashions, the first White sale and other themed sales such as the February "Opportunity Sales" to keep prices as low as possible while keeping volume high. The store also broadcast its organ concerts on the Wanamaker-owned radio station WOO beginning in Under the leadership of James Bayard Woodford, Wanamaker's opened piano stores in Philadelphia and New York that did a huge business with an innovative fixed-price system of sales.

Salons in period decor were used to sell the higher-price items. Wanamaker also tried selling small organs built by the Austin Organ Company for a time. Slow decline[ edit ] After John Wanamaker's death in the business carried on under Wanamaker family ownership. Rodman WanamakerJohn's son, enhanced the reputation of the stores as artistic centers and temples of the beautiful, offering imported luxuries from around the world. He died shortly before the Great Depression, and after his death inthe stores managed for the family by a trust continued to thrive for a time.

The men's clothing and accessories department was expanded into its own separate store on the lower floors of the Lincoln-Liberty Buildingtwo doors down on Chestnut Street, in Over time, Wanamaker's lost business to other retail chains, including Bloomingdale's and Macy'sin the Philadelphia market.

Taubman reorganized the business with a shortened corporate name Wanamaker's Inc. This too was no help, as Taubman's retail interests were heavily in debt and the stores' combined sales were a disappointment.

Believing that the Wanamaker Building space was more valuable than portions of the historic Wanamaker store, the Philadelphia flagship store was reduced to its first five stories, the Juniper Street side became the lobby of an office building for the upper stories, and the former basement budget "Downstairs Store" became a parking garage. The Crystal Tea Room restaurant was closed and eventually leased to the Marriott Corporation for use as a ballroom. Personal effects of Mr.

Wanamaker from his until-then preserved office on the eighth floor, and the store archives, were donated to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Wanamaker and were displayed every year in the Grand Court during Lent were unceremoniously sold at auction.

Meet Me at the Eagle

After consecutive years, the Wanamaker's name was removed from all stores and replaced with Hecht's. The Center City Hecht's temporarily named Strawbridge's was closed for a lengthy renovation and refurbishment that saw the former Wanamaker retail space reduced in size again to three floors, and the former selling floors on the upper floors further subdivided into commercial office space.

The store was not immune to the major change in retailing away from regional chains to national chains. The uniformity of brand offerings and the cost savings available to national chains all worked against the viability of the store as an independent personality, although customers generally had a major say in determining store offerings and the magnificence of its commercial space did tend to cause it to be stocked with better offerings.

Other retailers had also learned to offer goods with much smaller staff rosters.

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The ability of retailers to "go national" in opposition to regional tastes is still an experiment-in-progress with mixed results. The Wanamaker's flagship store, with its famous organ and eagle from the St. Retailers continue to reap significant monetary returns from the elegance of this unparalleled retail space. Ina nonprofit group, the Friends of the Wanamaker Organwas founded to promote the preservation, restoration and presentation of the famous pipe organ.

With a long tradition of parades and fireworks displays, Macy's has taken a prominent civic role in fostering historic Wanamaker traditions, especially the Wanamaker Organ and the Holiday Pageant of Lights Christmas Show.

InMacy's celebrated its th birthday in the Philadelphia flagship store with a concert featuring the Wanamaker Organ and the Philadelphia Orchestra that attracted a capacity audience.