Despite a $400 Million dollar renovation completed in 2015, the beloved wooden escalators installed in Macy’s-Herald Square, NYC, remain in full working condition! For as long as 95 years these wooden escalators have been moving shoppers from up and down the 14 story department store.
Between 1920 and 1930, as Macy’s modernized its 1902 building, 40 Type L “Escalator” moving stairs (an Otis trademark at the time) were installed throughout the store. Macy’s has stored many elements like steps, rollers, handrails, and side walls preserving as replacements to be used when needed. In the 1990s, 19 were modified with metal treads, keeping the oak side walls. The unmodified escalators are distinguishable by the jumbo cleats on the step treads. They are one-half-inch wide. The treads — cleats and all — were milled from single pieces of ash. Most of the drive motors have been changed.
Best of all, they are still reliable and are in compliance with requirements of New York City construction codes for existing installations.
If you ever visit New York City, visit Macy’s Herald Square and check out these beautiful escalators, it’s worth it!