Exploring Ladies' Mile: New York City's Gilded Age Shopping District

Sun Apr 16 2023 at 11:00 am to 01:00 pm

Starbucks (14th Street Entrance) | New York

New York Adventure Club
Publisher/HostNew York Adventure Club
Exploring Ladies' Mile: New York City's Gilded Age Shopping District
New York Adventure Club | www.AdventureClub.com
About this Event

Long before the proliferation of indoor shopping malls, most Americans browsed store collections through window displays facing the street. And in New York City during the 1890s, no 'window shopping' district was more popular than Sixth Avenue in the Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea. Why did this part of the city attract some of the world's largest department stores of the day, and which buildings are still standing over a century later? It's time to walk up one of the most famed shopping streets in American history.

Join New York Adventure Club as we explore the evolution of the Ladies' Mile Historic District — located roughly along Sixth Avenue between 15th Street and 24th Streets, this 19th-century Gilded Age shopping hub was the premiere shopping district in New York City for decades thanks to its collection of department stores that ranked as some of the world's largest.

Led by NYC tour guide, Ginny Poleman, our curated walk up Ladies' Mile to uncover the history and remnants of the former shopping mecca will include:


  • A then-and-now comparison of the neighborhood using maps, illustrations, and vintage photos dating back to the 19th century
  • How the Sixth Avenue shopping hub got its name, Ladies' Mile, and what type of cliental most of the stores targeted
  • A look at the very first Macy’s department store location before it moved to the famous Herald Square location
  • A peek at the remnants inside the lobby of the Siegel-Cooper department store building, the world’s largest department store of the late 1890s, which is now the home to multiple retailers including Bed, Bath & Beyond
  • An explanation of cast iron construction used by many of the Ladies' Mile stores, and how to administer "the magnet test" to confirm if a building is truly made of cast iron
  • A quick stop at one of Manhattan’s earliest Jewish cemeteries hiding in plain sight
  • The fall and resurgence of this former shopping mecca, which devolved into a downtrodden area of warehouses and lofts before returning to a “big-box” shopping area and trendy residential neighborhood
  • A trip to the Flatiron district and site of where the term “23 skidoo” originated from

See you there!

*Please bring a water bottle and comfortable pair of shoes as we’ll be doing a lot of walking!

**This tour concludes at 23rd Street and 5th Avenue

About Ginny

Ginny Poleman is a graduate of Cornell University, a licensed NYC tour guide, docent for the Municipal Art Society, as well as an educational and costume collection guide for New York’s largest art museum. Additionally, she offers private tours for her own company, NYC Encounters, covering New York City Art, Architecture, and History. You can follow her on Instagram and Facebook at @Art_Encounters and @NYC.Encounters.


"Guide was fantastic! I loved all of the photos she had." -Amanda

"It was my first walking tour with the NY Adventure Club and I really enjoyed it! The photos of the buildings as we were walking really added to the tour." -Nancy


Event takes place rain or shine.

By attending a New York Adventure Club experience, you accept our terms of service.

Categories: In-Person, Neighborhood Tours


Event Venue & Nearby Stays

Starbucks (14th Street Entrance), 510 6th Avenue, New York, United States


USD 32.00

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