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In 1860, the Bavarian-born Bloomingdale brothers, Joseph and Lyman, began selling ladies’ hoop skirts in a storefront on the Lower East Side; by 1872, they’d expanded their trade to a wider variety of European-made garments for both men and women, and moved their operations to a row house in then-unfashionable Midtown.

Within a few years this area would become home to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, streetcar service and a wealthy clientele, inspiring the brothers to open their flagship department store on 59th Street and Lexington Avenue. Encompassing an entire city block, the building was reconceived in the Art Deco style in 1930 by architects Starrett & Van Vleck, who also designed the flagships for Bloomingdale’s competitors Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor and more.

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