Thursday, August 17, 2006

Department Store Escalators Study

Well, if you like escalators (and who doesn't?), you'll like this. Here's some hot department store escalator action for you, via YouTuber, CoastersNSich, who provided this description for the video (and is way too much into escalators, lol):
"Riding the escalators at Famous-Barr in Downtown St. Louis. You will notice three different types of escalators. First, a modern Schindler escalator (used for floors 1-4) with glass balustrades, no more than 5 years old. Next, an earlier Westinghouse model (floor 4 to 5)with steel art deco-style balustrades and design. Finally, two wooden Otis escalators (Floors 5 to 7), possibly from the 1930s - wooden escalators but with steel steps.

Ever since my childhood, I've loved riding the many escalators in the big old downtown department stores - St. Louis is fortunate to have this one. This store is set to be rebranded as Macy's this fall as a result of the Federated-May merger."
Cool video, CoastersNSich! Though personally, I could think of better music to accompany the visuals if I had my druthers. But hey, it's your baby, you rock it. :)

Note: Video is Flash format. If you don't see it, you must temporarily disable your ad-blocking programs.


Blogger Cora said...

Great seeing those old-style escalators again. I remember the art deco steel escalators from some of the pre-WWII department stores of my youth. I always liked to let my hands run along those groves, though it was forbidden. They replaced them sometime in the 1980s. The wooden ones could still be found in 19th and early 20th century department stores in Belgium and France, though they may have replaced them by now. Come to think of it, several London department stores had these as well. Though it's odd to see all three different styles in the same building. It's almost as if they started renovating the store from the bottom up and ran out of money halfway through.

Up to the mid 1990s, you could still see vintage escalators with wooden steps in some of the smaller London underground stations. They got a bad rap after such an escalator caused the devastating King's Cross fire in 1987, which killed 31 people, and were on their way out, when I was at university in London in 1995/96.

Which why even cool as some of these vintage escalators are, replacing them is often a good idea. Because they can easily become bad safety hazzards.

Thu Aug 17, 05:45:00 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

wow, i work right around the corner from this famous-barr. gotta go check it out sometime.

Fri Aug 18, 02:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I prefer the more current escalators to the ones from the 30s.

Sun Aug 20, 11:53:00 AM  
Blogger Anita said...

Oh, I'm in the minority that don't like esclators. I've been terrified of them all my life (getting on and off of them). I got over my fear as a teenager, but then I got it all over again when I fell down one at the Sears at the old Newmarket North/Newmaket Fair mall in Hampton, VA.

Mon Aug 21, 03:28:00 PM  
Blogger Cora said...

I didn't like escalators as a kid either, though I don't recall ever having had a bad experience on one. Though I did manage to slip and fall down a beautiful marble staircase in a 19th century department store once.

Mon Aug 21, 05:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this! Growing up in a small community a couple of hours away from St. Louis, I always looked forward to our yearly holiday shopping trips. Part of the fun was riding up and down all of the big escalators, of course! Having lived in St. Louis for the past 23 years (yikes!)I've seen the various changes made to the downtown Famous-Barr, and the one I dislike the most is the change to new style escalator, such as seen in the video. The escalators on the lower floors used to all be stainless steel, and the one attached to the main level, whether up or down was just gorgeous! I shouldn't complain too much as it's nice to still have a large department store downtown. Thankfully, Macy's recognizes the importance, and the store is undergoing remodel/expansion. Hopefully, they'll stop at stripping out any historic character...

Tue Aug 22, 02:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I'm the one who made this video, so thanks for spreading it around!

The Reibold Building in downtown Dayton, OH also has the same kind of 30's wooden Otis escalators on floors 1-3 found in the St. Louis store. Followed up by some newer Otis ones from 3-5. First built in the late 1800s, it used to be a department store, maybe Elder-Johnston (which later morphed into the Elder-Beerman chain) and now houses Montgomery County offices and services.

There are no longer department stores in Downtown Dayton - the newer Elder-Beerman is now offices, and the old Rike's was imploded in 1999 for the Schuster Performing Arts center, but you can still ride old department store escalators in Dayton!

You can also visit downtown Pittsburgh's Kaufmann's (now Macy's as well). It has the very old wooden Otis escalators with wooden steps from floors 11 to 13, but those no longer operate as there is no retail space up there. Still, there's like 3 banks of newer Otis escalators, and 2 banks of elevators, a great place to get lost!

And don't forget Macy's Herald Square in NYC - the old all-wood Otis' are still working there!

Thu Nov 30, 11:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Tracy said...

Ever notice the wooden escalator in "A Christmas Story?" It's after the parade and right before the visit with Santa. That was Higbee's in Cleveland. It's closed now, and the building is being used for offices. My siblings and I loved riding the wooden escalators whenever we went downtown, so I always watch for that shot in the movie.

Sat Jul 10, 11:56:00 AM  

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