December 9, 2011: Apple opens a store in New York’s fabled Grand Central Terminal, the company’s fifth Manhattan retail outlet.
Overlooking the terminal’s Main Concourse, the enormous Apple Store makes a stunning addition to the 140-year-old train station, which is one of New York’s busiest transportation hubs.
Apple Grand Central: Busiest Apple Store around?
Apple had opened three stores since Steve Jobs died in October 2011 — two in Spain, one in Germany. But the Apple Store in Grand Central Terminal was the first new U.S. outlet after the Apple co-founder’s death.
With countless news reports about Jobs, his Walter Isaacson-penned official biography riding high on the book charts, and the iPhone 4s (the first to feature Siri) flying off the shelves, it’s fair to say that Apple mania couldn’t have been at much more of a frenzy.
Around 2,500 people waited in line for the Grand Central Apple Store to open. When it did, nearly 4,000 visitors came and went before noon.
A big Apple Store in the heart of the Big Apple
Apple certainly couldn’t complain about this being a low-foot-traffic area as it did with its CompUSA mini-stores in the 1990s. Around 750,000 people pass through Grand Central Terminal each day (at least prior to the COVID-19 pandemic). That number typically rises to 1 million during the holidays.
To cater to this massive audience, Apple recruited a staff of 315. The company put in two Genius Bars and established 15-minute “Express Workshops” for customers in a hurry. Apple also made sure to include its then-new personal pickup service.
The Apple Grand Central location proved a worthy landmark to show just how far the company (and, really, technology) had come. Occupying a massive 23,000 square feet, it was one of Apple’s biggest retail stores in the world. It was certainly one of its grandest.
At the time, people feared that Apple would disrupt the classic design of the train terminal by injecting some of its minimalist modern design sensibilities. In fact, it did nothing of the kind. As we’ve seen with countless examples since then, Apple is very sympathetic to classic architecture — and here it proved exactly that.
Have you visited Apple Grand Central? Which is your favorite Apple store in the world? Leave your comments below.