Macy’s New York store was founded by former whaler and businessman Rowland Hussey Macy in 1858 at 6th Avenue and West 14th Street. From the start, Macy’s trademark has been a red star: Macy had one tattooed on his hand during his whaling days. On the rear of Macy’s original location on West 13th near 6th, red stars can still be seen as part of the building ornamentation.
This painted sign, which was on West 148th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues (which is easier than saying Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard and Frederick Douglass Boulevard) was probably the oldest Macy’s ad in existence. Judging from the design and letterforms it dated to the 1875-1880 period. At the time, Macy’s rented stables uptown that housed wagons for shipping parcels.
Around the mid-2000s this old ad was eliminated when the building it was on, adjacent to a police precinct parking lot, was razed. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a way to landmark painted ads like this.
That very same police parking lot, however, has a trio of monumental 1915-era Omega Oil liniment ads facing it, but the coppers won’t let you into the lot to photograph them, unless you do it when no one’s looking.