Today in Apple history: Apple shows off its amazing Fifth Avenue store

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May18May 18, 2006: The world
— and, more specifically, the Apple-watching press — gets its
first glimpse at Apple’s swanky new Fifth Avenue Apple store in
New York City.

Hidden behind
black plastic wrapping during development, the covering is
removed one day before the store’s grand opening — revealing a
32-foot glass cube adorned with a white, floating Apple logo.
At 10am EST, members of the press get an exclusive tour of the
new venue.

Steve’s store


As I’ve
written previously in “Today
in Apple history
,” May is a significant month for Apple
stores. Five years before the Fifth Avenue Apple store opened
its doors, Apple opened its first retail outlets — located at
McLean, Virginia, and the Glendale Galleria in Glendale,
California.


A few years later, however, it was
ready to make a big splash, and few locations could do that
like the aptly-named Big Apple. Although Steve Jobs had been
heavily involved with Apple’s retail store strategy all along,
the Fifth Avenue Apple store bore his fingerprints
throughout. “It was really Steve’s store,” is how Ron
Johnson, Apple’s former senior Vice President of Retail once
described the Fifth Avenue Apple store.

For
architects, Jobs hired Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, who also
once designed a
massive Seattle home for Bill Gates.
 Because the
actual retail space was located underground, accessible via a
glass elevator, the design brief called for the firm to create
something spectacular enough to lure people in.


It clearly
worked, since not only did the Fifth Avenue Apple store become
the most spectacular Apple retail store of its time, but it
also — quite astonishingly — became New York’s
most photographed landmark
.


Its
opening, the day after the May 18 press preview, was attended
by a variety of actors, musicians, movie directors and TV
personalities including Kevin Bacon, Beyoncé, Kanye West, Spike
Lee and Dave Chappelle — along with more than a dozen
others.

The grand (re)opening

At present, Apple is working to expand the size of its Fifth
Avenue store by
doubling its size
from 32,000 square feet to a massive
77,000 square feet. With the store currently moved to a nearby
location, the reopened original site will open its doors in
late 2017.

An Apple spokesperson described the upcoming new Fifth Avenue
Apple store as “incredible,” and said it is somewhere
“customers will [be able to] enjoy new services and experiences
in a much larger space.” Among other features, the reopened
store will reportedly
feature a Beats 1 broadcasting booth
, possibly for Beats 1
DJ Ebro Darden, who currently broadcasts from another location
in Manhattan.

Have you visited the Fifth Avenue Apple store? What is your
pick for the most spectacular Apple store in the world? Leave
your comments below.