Tiffany & Co. is one of America’s first and only luxury houses, and with over 300 stores globally, its influence in the world is beyond compare. Charles Lewis Tiffany opened his emporium at 259 Broadway in New York City in 1837. Ten years later, Tiffany moved his enterprise to 271 Broadway, then to 550 Broadway in 1853 and, in 1870, to Union Square and 15th Street. Three years after his death in 1902, the company moved to Fifth Avenue and 37th Street; and in 1940, Tiffany’s iconic Fifth Avenue flagship store first opened its doors at 727 Fifth Avenue—a move that helped to establish the area as the world-renowned luxury shopping district it is today.
Designed by the architectural firm Cross & Cross, the world immediately embraced the seven-story structure as Tiffany’s permanent home in New York. Its graceful façade of limestone, granite and marble anchors the famous Atlas clock: a nine-foot statue of the mythological figure shouldering a clock of approximately four feet in diameter. The clock was initially mounted in 1853 above the entrance of the Tiffany store at 550 Broadway before moving to the Fifth Avenue flagship store.
In 2019, Tiffany began a holistic transformation of the flagship store that has not taken place in the building’s 80-year history. The grandeur and essence of the majestic space will remain and continue to awe guests as they enter the renovated store in 2023. An evolved luxury retail experience will draw consumers inside once again and inspire them to journey from the main floor up through the entirety of the building.
Tiffany partnered with famed architecture firm OMA on select aspects of the transformation, including a three-story rooftop addition that will replace office space added in 1980 with undulating walls made of innovative slumped glass imported from Italy. Appearing as if a shimmering volume floating above the building, the addition is a contemporary reflection of the Flagship’s original main floor and its lofty ceilings and contemporary touches.
The entrance of the flagship store is adorned with Tiffany’s signature wheat leaf pattern, reflecting the jeweler’s deep affinity for nature. Arranged in crisp rows of stainless steel, the distinctive Wheat Leaf pattern originated in the columns of classical architecture that influenced the Art Deco movement.
The spacious 8,400-square-foot main floor was an engineering masterpiece when it was built in 1940 with its column-less space and 24-foot ceiling secured by three 106-ton trusses spanning the building parallel to Fifth Avenue. It was also one of the first retail buildings in New York City to be equipped with central air-conditioning.
The Fifth Avenue flagship store has always been a coveted destination for everyone from illustrious figures and celebrities to tourists and New Yorkers alike. Nearly every United States president since Abraham Lincoln has been a client of Tiffany & Co., including stars of stage and screen, such as Richard Burton, whose gifts of Tiffany jewels greatly enhanced the collection of his wife, Elizabeth Taylor. The main floor has also served as a set for such films as Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) with Audrey Hepburn®, Sleepless in Seattle (1993), and Sweet Home Alabama (2002).
The celebrated Fifth Avenue flagship store has been one of the most sought-after retail destinations in the world for nearly a century and, upon the completion of its transformation in 2023, will continue to inspire the world to experience the magic that only Tiffany can offer.
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