One of the most prestigious areas in the world for expensive shops and a luxury retail experience is Fifth Avenue, New York. The cream of designer brands including Cartier, Tiffany, Louis Vuitton and Prada come together in one opulent street to create a customer experience few can imagine.
Today's consumer paradise is a far cry from the rural beginnings of the area where Fifth Avenue is located today. First appearing on an 1846 map, the location is identified as being on the perimeter of a farm belonging to John Peters. However, by 1862, the area gained social status as a residential area when wealthy socialite Caroline Schermerhorn Astor settled on the corner of 34th Street. In 1893, the Astoria Hotel was built on the site of her former home and was later linked to the neighbouring property to become the prestigious Waldorf–Astoria Hotel. It's now the location of the famous Empire State Building.
The street remained largely residential until 1896, when entrepreneur Benjamin Altman bought the plot on the corner of 34th Street to erect his department store, B Altman and Company, which opened in 1906. This marked the establishment of the high-end shopping district that was patronised by well-to-do, fashionable women of the era.
Fifth Avenue was widened in 1908 in recognition of the increasing amount of traffic, as commercial interest increased. In 1910, the trolley bus was extended to the area to transport in more shoppers and employees each day.
Stretching from Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village to West 143rd Street in Harlem, today’s Fifth Avenue is one of the most famous and prestigious retail districts in the whole of the US – and indeed, the world. A premier name in elegant fashions, Saks Fifth Avenue still stands proud in Herald Square where it was built in 1924.
Specialising in luxury jewellery, watches, leather goods, fragrances and accessories, neighbours include Cartier – where services include everything from private viewings to personalised concierge services. The famous Tiffany & Co.’s flagship store on Fifth Avenue was opened in 1940 and the famous granite and limestone Art Deco building is a familiar landmark thanks to its 9ft tall bronze statue of Atlas carrying a massive clock. Famous fashion house Louis Vuitton also has a flagship Fifth Avenue store, where discerning shoppers can buy the very best shoes, handbags, accessories, fragrances and more. Also selling a range of accessories, designer clothing and jewellery, the Prada store is located near American president Donald Trump's famous Trump Tower.
Other world-renowned retailers who grace Fifth Avenue include World of Disney, Fendi, Escada, Hugo Boss, The Apple Store, Abercrombie & Fitch, Armani, Gianni Versace and the legendary toy store FAO Schwarz.
It's not only the retailers that attract shoppers - Fifth Avenue has its fair share of landmark attractions too. In a section known as Museum Mile, visitors can see no less than nine museums including the Museum of African Art, the Museum of the City of New York and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Landmark buildings include the Empire State Building, St Patrick’s Cathedral and the Rockefeller Observation Deck, while the famous Central Park attracts thousands of people, especially in the summer.
Fifth Avenue today is considered as one of the best shopping streets in the world, attracting an international clientele to its varied selection of retail stores, where the architecture is as amazing as the products on sale.
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