A recent visit to Macy's Herald Square brought back the hurtful reminder that most (all?) of the wooden treads on the ancient, historic wooden escalators have been replaced in recent years by standard metal trades. Apparently, a series of accidents resulted in the old wooden treads being ripped out. The sides of the Otis escalators remain wooden, but the crowning beauty of the contraptions was really the treads. The wood was warm; the metal is cold. I went up several floors looking for ones that were still wood, but didn't find any. Maybe they lurk at the top of the building.
But when I went home to do some research on the subject, I was delighted and surprised to find a story in the Nov. 1 edition of the New York Times that reported that Macy's is planning an extension, multi-year renovation of its flagship store, to begin this spring. Included in the redo will be the "preservation of 42 of 43 historic wooden escalators in the current store – a unique and distinguishing feature of Macy’s Herald Square." So they're coming back, I guess!
Among the other welcome improvement: "Restoring the first floor “great hall”... The original great hall’s ceiling height will be restored"; and "The ornate “Memorial Entrance” on 34th Street will be restored and reopened. Windows along Broadway, 34th Street and Seventh Avenue, which have been covered up over the years, will be reopened. Windows on the upper floors also will be uncovered to allow more natural light into the building. Sidewalks will be replaced, with Macy’s-branded paved “welcome mats” added at every entrance. Awnings and canopies reminiscent of the original building will be added. New exterior lighting will highlight the building’s elegant architectural details."
For those who wonder what the old wooden escalators looked like, here's a video I took back in 2008.