Remembering FAO Schwarz

Over the last two years, one of my favorite day trips has been going to New York City. The last trip was in November – we took the train from New Haven to Grand Central, and some of the sites we visited included The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the pre-trimmed Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center. Before taking the train back to Connecticut, we stopped at FAO Schwarz. It had been about fifteen years since I had been inside the iconic toy store, but I remembered riding the elevators with friends, checking out the candy and Lego packages, and getting those packets of trading cards “I really needed.” Now I was walking around, looking at the massive teddy bears wearing Christmas bows, watching remote controlled airplanes fly around, and passing an assortment of Minion toys, not realizing that next summer, the toy store would be closing.

FAO Schwarz was founded in Baltimore in 1862 by Frederick August Otto Schwarz, an immigrant from Germany. The store was called “Toy Bazaar” at the time and was known for selling high quality toys. Eight years later, the New York location opened on Broadway. Titled “Schwarz Toy Bazaar,” the retail store moved a couple of times and underwent a few branding changes. In 1931, Schwarz moved the store to 745 Fifth Avenue, and FAO Schwarz held that location to present time. New store locations have opened throughout the United States since.

As of now, owner Toys R Us is saying the company is looking to relocate FAO Schwarz to a new location, citing the rising cost of Fifth Avenue’s lease for the store’s closure. Hopefully some news will be on the horizon soon… where else could you get an epic picture with a life-size Batman built with Legos?

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