Good-bye, Downtown Macy's (Nee Foley's): Six Oddities You May Not Know, Featuring Massive Fallout Shelters, Ghosts & Spider-Man

Categories: Spaced City

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No more frenzied lunchtime shopping for that gift you forgot.
It's a sad sight walking by the downtown Macy's these days -- a cheap-ass "Going Out Of Business" hangs from its walls, and if you go inside you'll find few floors open and everything -- even the fixtures -- on sale.

It's an undignified ending for the old store, which opened as a Foley's in 1947.

Back then the store was considered a $13 million absolute marvel of the modern world, sure to be a magnet drawing Houston shoppers downtown for decades to come. Which it did, for almost seven decades, until Macy's decided it wasn't a moneymaker and had to close.

It's down to its last little bit of inventory now, and when that's gone the doors will shut -- probably no later than this weekend.

You probably haven't been in the store in years, or maybe even ever, so to send it off as a Macy's, here are six things you may not know about the place:

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No shopping during a nuclear attack, please.
6. There are no windows, so you'll know it's got a/c.
You have to admit the building doesn't wow anyone with its beautiful architecture -- it's a box.

It's a windowless box, the nine stories of blank walls (the first floor, ground level, does have windows for passing pedestrians) tending to give the place either an intimidating or utterly bland feeling, depending on how easily you're intimidated.

If people gave it any thought, they'd probably guess the bare outside walls are there to protect against a Russkie a-bomb attack. Actually, according to houstonarchitecture.com, "[t]here are no windows because the owners wanted to emphasize the fact that it was fully climate controlled."

Cold War buffs shouldn't feel ignored, though: In the basement of the building is a huge fallout shelter, now abandoned and off limits, that could hold 39,000 people, according to the City of Houston.

That's some fallout shelter. You could fit four or five Astro crowds in there.




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We guess the hulk is undercover as a parade watcher.
5. Spider-Man and the Hulk once battled there.
Not each other, we assume. (Although we wouldn't put it past Stan Lee.) The superheroes are protecting the rodeo parade and the Foley's in a comic used as a free newspaper insert in 1982.

"But that doesn't look like the downtown Foley's," you say. And that's true. Marvel did not provide individual covers for the three papers involved (the Houston Chronicle, the Austin American-Statesman and the San Antonio Express-News).

But -- there is obviously a rodeo parade going on downtown in this illustration, and if San Antonio or Austin ever claimed they had a rodeo parade, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo would laugh them out of town.

So it's Houston, dammit, with a little artistic license thrown in. This store wouldn't make a good fallout shelter, though, what with the large windows and all. Place probably doesn't even have a/c, for that matter, or they would have advertised that fact with huge, boring walls.

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12 comments
Tangyjoe
Tangyjoe

My favorite elementary school field trip was to the candy factory there at the downtown Foley's.  It must have been more than 35 years ago and I still remember that they gave us a bag of peanut brittle to take home. 

Rebecca Ellen
Rebecca Ellen

Mr. Diamond was the record buyer. I worked in the record department as one of my first jobs. Later in life. RIP Foley's store.

LetterE
LetterE

There also used to be an HISD accredited high school run from the basement for several years in the late 80s/early 90s.

Christopher Woods
Christopher Woods

I worked there the summers of '82,'83 and '84. They had a vinyl record department also.

Dylan Webb
Dylan Webb

i actually went to high school in the basement of that building... those aged pale green floors and beige walls have a special place in my heart

David Rozycki
David Rozycki

Unless my parents took me there as a child and I forgot...

David Rozycki
David Rozycki

Lived here my whole life, I am 42 I never went there once.

Donnol Hem
Donnol Hem

just another place we all say we're going to miss but never visited when it was open

Elisa Flores
Elisa Flores

When I worked downtown a few years ago I worked in the Reliant bldg across the street, i loved going shopping at Macys during my lunch hour...that location always had great sales and bigger discounts. It will definitly be missed!

Terrence Persaud
Terrence Persaud

Still sad. I remember thinking this place was some sort of mythic treat that made the burden of shopping with my parents mundane. Are they tearing the building down or just gutting it out for offices and condos?

Connelly
Connelly

@LetterE Yep,  for "troubled youth."

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