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Secrets of New York

The ultimate insider's guide to the best-kept secrets of NYC's must-see places and buzzed-about people.

That's why Saks Fifth Avenue is so big:

That's why Saks Fifth Avenue is so big: it's full of secrets (Credit: Philips Communications )

landmarks

Secrets of Saks Fifth Avenue

611 5th Ave New York, NY 10022

Think you know the iconic New York department store? Think again.

What started as a small family business in the early 20th century has risen over the past 100-plus years to become one of the world's most recognizable stores and brands.

Learn about some of its unknown history, shopping secrets and why you must appreciate the Fifth Avenue flagship store today.

Before 611 5th Ave. became a chic department

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

611 5th Ave. wasn't always the Saks flagship

Before 611 5th Ave. became a chic department store, the location was home to the New York Republican Club. The business was originally founded by a German-Jewish peddler, Andrew Saks, in 1867. After his death, his sons took over the company, and opened the massive store on Fifth Avenue on Sept. 15, 1924.

The U.S. military looked spiffy in Fifth Avenue

Credit: Saks

Saks Fifth Avenue manufactured WWII uniforms

The U.S. military looked spiffy in Fifth Avenue style during World War II: Saks manufactured WWII uniforms, Saks publicist Katie Majeski said. Some of the original military coats can currently be found for sale on sites like eBay. Saks still offers discounts to military personnel purchasing glasses and sunglasses through Armed Forces Eyewear.

Sophie Gimbel, the wife of Saks Fifth Avenue's

Credit: Time Inc. / Wikimedia Commons

Saks and Time magazine go way back

Sophie Gimbel, the wife of Saks Fifth Avenue's 1926 to 1969 store president Adam Gimbel, was a famous designer. She was the first American designer to appear on the cover of Time Magazine.

Former Saks Fifth Avenue cosmetic sales associate Jacqueline

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The first woman to break the sound barrier sold cosmetics at Saks

Former Saks Fifth Avenue cosmetic sales associate Jacqueline Cochran, an advocate for female pilots joining the fight during World War II, became the first woman to break the sound barrier on May 18, 1953.

Sadly, the tunnel is no longer active, Majeski

Credit: Saks Fifth Avenue

Saks Fifth Avenue has a secret tunnel that connected the Fifth Avenue Store to Rockefeller Plaza

Sadly, the tunnel is no longer active, Majeski said. You can see Rockefeller Center from upper levels of the department store, including from Cafe SFA, if you don't want to venture outside.

Toronto-based Hudson's Bay Company, which was originally dealt

Credit: Getty Images / Paul Hawthorne

Saks Fifth Avenue is still headquartered in NYC, but it's owned by a Canadian company.

Toronto-based Hudson's Bay Company, which was originally dealt in furs, took over Saks Inc. in July 2013 and the merger was official that November. HBC also owns Lord & Taylor.

Café SFA, on Saks' Eighth floor, is popular

Credit: Melissa Kravitz

Saks' in-store restaurant has quite a following

Café SFA, on Saks' Eighth floor, is popular with both shoppers and celebrities alike. Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross and Mary Tyler Moore are a few names that have popped up regularly on the reservation list. (Before it was a chic restaurant, the space was used as a stockroom.) When it opened, guests had to walk through the lingerie department to reach the host stand. That has since changed with the creation of 10022-SHOE, which also occupies the Eighth Floor. The most popular menu items, chef Alex Reyes says, are the crab and corn chowders, the SFA tossed turkey cobb, and the chicken Mandarin salad. Reyes tried to remove the salad but was practically forced to bring it back to the menu due to overwhelming requests from guests.

Saks Fifth Avenue has its own stamps and

10022-SHOE is a zip code

Saks Fifth Avenue has its own stamps and zip code -- 10022-SHOE, in honor of its enormous eighth floor shoe salon. While the number of visitors each year to the shoe department is not public, in 2007 Saks created a 10022-SHOE Express elevator to take shoppers from the first floor (cosmetics and handbags) straight to the shoe salon, where luxury brands ranging from Jimmy Choo to the more affordable UGG Australia can by found.

Part magazine, part catalogue, this editorial venture sells

Credit: Saks Fifth Avenue

Saks' 'magalog' rivals Vogue's September issue

Part magazine, part catalogue, this editorial venture sells extravagantly priced outfits alongside fashion, beauty and lifestyle articles authored by names recognized from the glossy pages of Conde Nast publications. Fall 2015's 272-page magalog was shot exclusively in Scotland by Hollywood photographer Albert Watson. Saks unveiled the magazine via Instagram at the beginning of New York Fashion Week. Unlike Bergdorf Goodman's in-house magazine, Saks' is totally free.

Saks Fifth Avenue's holiday light display uses more

Credit: BFA

'The Winter Palace' at Saks Fifth Avenue uses a lot of light.

Saks Fifth Avenue's holiday light display uses more than 225,000 individual points of controlled light, per a Saks news release. It took more than 10,000 hours to produce and more than 250 individuals worked on the project.

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