Now out of Business, Lord & Taylor Began its 200-Year Run on the Lower East Side

Posted on: September 9th, 2020 at 5:00 am by

Lord & Taylor is bankrupt, and closing all of its remaining stores. Every last one.

The financial ruination is a result of online competition and diminished mall traffic, further exacerbated by the novel coronavirus. Burying the big-box company after 194 years in business.

All 38 remaining stores and official website are offering liquidation sales.

So, it’s definitely worth revisiting the Lower East Side origins of Lord & Taylor

In 1826, Lord & Taylor put down roots at 47 Catherine Street. Founded by 23-year-old Samuel Lord and his wife’s cousin George Washington Taylor, the eponymous business had been considered the “oldest upscale, specialty-retail department store chain in the United States.” They specialized, as now, in “fashionable dry goods” that catered to women. The original location was inside a three-story dwelling, and doubled in size within a year of its opening. The growth continued, and the company annexed 49 Catherine six years later.

47 Catherine Street

Growth and good fortune were on their side. Lord & Taylor continued to expand, first with a relocation to 61-63 Catherine in 1838 where it would remain for fifteen years. Then the formidable company built itself a new headquarters at 255 Grand Street (southeast corner of Chrystie). According to the Landmarks Preservation Commission, this Lower East Side building had “a domed rotunda and large windows which allowed natural light to flood the interior.”

Not too long after, Lord spotted an empty parcel at 461-467 Broadway, and began construction of its flagship palatial digs. The five-story “marble emporium” debuted on August 29, 1859, and became the “first of the major retailers to move to Broadway after the opening of A. T. Stewart’s department store at Broadway and Chambers Street.”

Fifty-five years later saw the move to the once-mighty Fifth Avenue flagship, designed by Starrett & Van Vleck, and erected in 1914.

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