the demise of Lord & Taylor








Lord & Taylor's

Lord & Taylor, New York City; photo by Roger W. Smith





photo by Roger W. Smith



The following is an exchange of emails from today between me and the poet and essayist/writer Luanne Castle, host of the popular website (of which I am a fan)






hi, Luanne

I am in the Lord and Taylor’s department store (great store) shopping for a pair of gloves, and I suddenly thought of your great post about the closing of stores.

Apropos this, see link to NY Times article from October below


“Lord & Taylor Building, Icon of New York Retail, to Become WeWork Headquarters”

by Michael J. De La Merced and Michael Corkery

The New York Times

October 24, 2017



best wishes,







from Luanne Castle to Roger Smith


Ugh, I really hate to hear that (the article’s story). So sad. And what a beautiful old ceiling in the photo you shared. Thanks, Roger.

I watched a 20-year-old movie the other day and was astonished at how rapidly the world has changed in the past 20 years!








from Roger Smith to Luanne Castle


Thanks, Luanne.

I don’t know if you know New York City or have been there.

I grew up in Greater Boston, have lived in NYC since my early 20’s; my wife is a native New Yorker.

I am not a clothes horse (I’m actually the opposite) and I’m not a shopper, but my wife introduced me to Lord and Taylor’s department store and I love it.

It’s located on Fifth Avenue between 38th and 39th Streets, two blocks from the New York Public Library, my home away from home … people come to see the Christmas display in the front windows at the Fifth Ave entrance.

It’s such a nice store to just be in … I will go there on breaks from the library and get a coffee and snack in the cafe … sometimes will do a little shopping or hang around … the staff is so pleasant.

It’s an oasis … my wife and I are so disappointed that it’s essentially closing next year (shrinking from the current ten floors to two).

My wife loves to shop there … she goes on Sundays when there’s parking in midtown Manhattan.

I loved to go Christmas shopping with my Dad and siblings in Jordan Marsh, the main department store in Boston, when I was growing up. They had wonderful displays of toys, such as a big, elaborate electric train display.

We have family photos of my older brother and my sister with the Jordan Marsh Santa — my brother was sitting on his knee … they both have that starry-eyed look of wonderment.

The demise of Lord and Taylor’s is a real disappointment. There is a Macy’s in a mall near where we live; shopping there is downright unpleasant.







— Roger W. Smith

   December 13, 2017








Check out Luanne Castle’s post

“RIP Dreamland”

RIP Dreamland

about the decline of retail over the years as viewed by Luanne through the prism of her family’s experience and hers growing up.





My friend Ella Rutledge commented as follows on Facebook:


Ella Rutledge, December 14, 2017:

You probably know that Jordan Marsh was long ago replaced by Macy’s and the Filene’s across the street has also been closed down. No more Filene’s Basement! I agree with you and your wife about department stores. Japan does them really well, and I used to love wandering through the many floors of beautiful things and smelling the perfume when I walked in the front door. Too bad about Lord & Taylor. [All of the US stores Ella mentions are in Boston, except for Lord and Taylor.]



Roger Smith:

Really interesting input, Ella. I was vaguely aware that Filene’s Basement was gone, didn’t know what had happened to Jordan Marsh (or Filene’s itself). Then, there was the bargain clothing store Raymond’s, where I bought a favorite sport jacket I had forever (wouldn’t fit me now) in college for $19. Interesting about the Japanese department stores. Wish I could visit them. I was in Tokyo once in the 1990’s. Strolled along Ginza but didn’t actually go into any of the department stores with the dazzling window displays, unfortunately.

6 thoughts on “the demise of Lord & Taylor

  1. Luanne

    Roger, I’m dipping in quickly here as my kids are in town, and we are having a party and other activities, but want to reblog because it’s an issue dear to my heart. Best,

  2. Luanne

    Reblogged this on Writer Site and commented: “More from Roger about the subject I talked about a few months ago: the demise of the department store. The loss is particularly hard at this time of year.”

  3. John W. Howell

    Super post. When I lived in Connecticut, we furnished our house from Lord and Taylor. We would save our money and buy a piece at a time. The store was classic and I always enjoyed going.

  4. elainepinkerton

    Sad comment on the time in which we live. I used to work at Lord & Taylor’s in the DC area long ago, loved the store. Your post is a fitting elegy for this iconic institution.

  5. notdonner

    So many iconic stores are closing as technology took over. Chain stores replaced mom n’ pop stores, then the big box retailers overpowered them. Amazon is crushing brick n’ mortar stores now. Someday that will change for Amazon also.

    But about L & T — my most recent visit, in 2015, was in winter and I have great pictures of those store window displays. Great memories.

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