By Lucy Foster
17 Feb 2006

fao schwarz caroline digonis

   What is the oldest toy store in the U.S.? The answer is FAO Schwarz which dates way back to 1862 founded by German immigrant Frederick August Otto Schwarz. It also has the distinction of being “one of the oldest retail establishments of any kind”.  
   This magical toy store located on Fifth Avenue at the corner of 58th Street, is a whimsical treat for all those who visit. A toy soldier greets each visitor at the entrance and poses for photographs. When you enter the store, a  three story clock tower plays “Welcome to Our World of Toys.” The store is two floors of every type of unusual toy your mind could imagine. A vast collection of stuffed toys are located throughout the store and includes a collection of replicas of endangered species sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History. The store has something for every collector from a  fantastic collection of dolls to an impressive collection of Star Wars merchandise to exclusive jewelry and figurines.
   This FAO Schwarz store has the giant floor piano that was featured in the 1988 film “Big” with Tom Hanks.
   FAO Schwarz also offers some great customer service options to make your shopping experience a breeze. All of your purchases can be shipped to your home address at your request so you don’t have to worry about purchasing that oversized item. Some free services from the famed toy store include a personal shopper assistant and complimentary gift wrapping of your purchases.
   The impressive landmark toy store even has sweet treats to take with you throughout your shopping experience or you can enjoy your snack at the old-fashioned ice cream parlor area. The hot chocolate and fudge cake are recommended. 
   During the holidays, FAO Schwarz is also one of the busiest tourist attractions in NYC, so you may want to get there early to avoid long lines.

   Directions by subway include taking the N,R, or W, to the 59th street stop at Fifth Avenue or you may take the 4,5, or 6 to the 59th street stop at Lexington Avenue.

Photo: courtesy of FAO Schwarz

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