Good-bye, Downtown Macy's (Nee Foley's): Six Oddities You May Not Know, Featuring Massive Fallout Shelters, Ghosts & Spider-Man
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.
No more frenzied lunchtime shopping for that gift you forgot.
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:
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.
5. Spider-Man and the Hulk once battled there.
We guess the hulk is undercover as a parade watcher.
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.