In the early 1900’s the two buildings once known collectively as Saks-34th Street were one of New York’s glitziest shopping hubs, and they were connected with an equally opulent span now known as the Gimbel Bridge.
After retail giant Gimbel’s purchased the Saks Company in 1923, they became one of New York’s largest retailers, along with Macy’s. Always in competition with Macy’s, whose massive flagship store was just a few blocks uptown, the new conglomerate solidified their position by connecting their 34th Street store to Saks’ Fifth Avenue location with a grand skybridge.
Built in 1925, the second story bridge was designed by architectural firm Shreve and Lamb who would go on to develop the Empire State Building just a few years later. The skywalk is suspended over 32nd and features an Art Deco, copper facade that has turned a vibrant green with the passing of time. The bridge is in itself almost its own building at three-stories tall and featuring wall to wall windows on either side so that people could watch the streets below.
Once open to shoppers, Gimbel’s bridge now connects private floors of its terminus buildings, but visitors rushing to Penn Station can look up and remember a New York where dueling department stores could produce architectural wonders.