press release iconHistory

MACY’S CENTER CITY HISTORY

July 17, 2015

Macy’s Center City is a unique Philadelphia landmark that marries the modern with the historical, creating a modern shopping experience in the midst of some of the city’s most important attractions.

History and Architecture

  • Macy’s Center City is located in the 157,940 square foot historic Wanamaker building at 13th and Market Street
  • John Wanamaker pioneered the department store concept in Philadelphia when he founded Wanamaker's in 1866.
  • Wanamaker's was the first department store to guarantee a refund policy and to be illuminated by electricity.
  • In 1911, the lavish store became the first of its kind when Mr. Wanamaker built a 12-floor building for its new location.
  • The building was dedicated by President William Howard Taft on December 30 of that year.

The Wanamaker Organ

In 1909 John Wanamaker purchased the 10,000 pipe organ which was created for the St. Louis World's Fair. The organ took two years to install and was played to the public for the first time on June 22, 1911, the official opening date of the John Wanamaker store. Between 1911 and 1930 an additional 18,000 pipes were added to the organ bringing it to today’s grand total of 29,000 pipes, making it the world's largest performing pipe organ. Several years later, it was installed in the Grand Court of the Wanamaker building. A National Historic Landmark since 1980, the six manuals and thousands of pipes allow the organ to play with the capabilities of three symphony orchestras. The organ console weighs 2.5 tons and the entire instrument weighs 287 tons.

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