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Friday, Jul. 30, 2004 | link
When I was little, like starting in the fourth grade or so, my mother and I would play hookey sometime around the holidays and go into the city for a shopping day. Traditionally we bookended the event with a breakfast of Swedish pancakes at Sears Fine Food (which has gone through its own upheavals) and a nostalgically delicious dinner of fish and chips from the hooker- and cockroach-riddled Old Chelsea on Larkin (we always took it to go). In between, we shopped around Union Square, making sure we stopped to coo over the SPCA puppies and kitties digging around present-wrapped litter boxes in the windows at Gumps. And we always, always went in to I. Magnin's to use, whether we really needed to or not, the glorious deco bathroom with its classy, stand-alone pumps of scented Magnin soap and lotion and foyer packed with velvet settees and flatter-lit makeup mirrors.
Then Macy's bought out Magnin's and lamed everything up. The fancy lotion and soap are gone. The foyer has been converted into a jarring flank of glaringly modern and slipshod bathroom stalls. The solid DOOR doors on each of the old stalls are still there, but the cute, swivelling "Occupied"/"Vacant" locks are gone. And now the marbled walls are littered with the typical unsightly and discordant evolution of towel dispensers. Change is dumb.
But some of the original righteousness still flickers, here and there:
Go and pee for yourself: Magnin's beautiful bathrooms are hidden up on Macy's 6th floor, back by the wrapping counter. And make sure you penetrate past the layer of fluorescently criminal stalls.