So, fifth isn’t usually what most people aspire to. Unless you’re talking real estate and New York City real estate at that. Then fifth means Fifth Avenue, the shopping mecca that defines upscale retail in North America. From the mid-19th century, when the retail heart of NYC arrived uptown, location has been a huge driver of success.
In 1869 Lord & Taylor opened at 901 Broadway, on the SW corner of Broadway at E. 20th St., in the middle of the district that would become known as “The Ladies’ Mile”. Between the Civil War and World War I, the district between 8th and 23rd Streets, Broadway and Sixth Avenue was home to some of New York's most famous department stores, including L&T.
By the 20th century the retail centre had moved north yet again, this time to Fifth Avenue. Lord and Taylor was an “early adopter” of the trend, relocating to in 1914 when it moved to its current location: 424 Fifth Avenue on the NW corner of Fifth Avenue at W. 38th St., home of the chain’s flagship store.
Meanwhile, Andrew Saks, an enterprising retailer originally from Baltimore by way of Washington D.C., arrived in New York City and opened his first store, Saks & Co., at Herald Square in 1902. His successors moved the store to 611 Fifth Avenue in 1924. At that time “Fifth Avenue” was added to the name of the store, with the intention of leveraging the reputation and importance of the area to enhance the store’s brand.
As it turned out, over time Fifth Avenue would get as much of a boost from Saks as vice versa. And with its recent acquisition of Saks Fifth Avenue, Hudson’s Bay Company now has not one, but two significant footholds in the heart of retail America.
Not bad for “The Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson Bay”, eh? Mind you, let’s not forget that New York lies at the mouth of the Hudson River, named, with delightful historical symmetry, for the very same Hudson who discovered the Bay. And the city itself is named after James, Duke of York, 2nd Governor of the Company.
One could be forgiven for thinking that this was all meant to be!