Manhattan, NY

Why Do NYC Tourists Take Selfies at the Apple Fifth Avenue Store?


Picture this: Three people walk up to the corner of 59th Street and 5th Avenue in Manhattan. They take out their phones and begin taking selfies, of themselves, of each other, with a particular building in the background. Can you guess which one?

It's a busy area, one that's changed a lot in recent years. For decades, tourists eagerly sought out the giant toy store, FAO Schwarz at 767 5th Avenue, but due to rent increases, the company decided to vacate the space in 2016.

Across the street, the Plaza Hotel, a longstanding NYC icon, is currently covered with scaffolding, looking anything but photogenic. So why are these three people taking selfies on the southeast corner of Central Park?

The three people, two men and one woman, appear to be tourists, perhaps from Italy. Travel restrictions on Europe were recently lifted in the United States, just in time for the busy holiday season. Two of these tourists are clearly a couple. They pose together, while the third person takes their photo. Then this group splits apart, and the woman proceeds to take several selfies, against various reflective surfaces (photo above).

While this is happening, another set of tourists is preoccupied with the same goal. Two middle-aged men, speaking to each other in a language that sounds vaguely Slavic, engage in an adorable selfie session. One man poses, and the other man bends his knees, hoping to capture his friend in a sympathetic light, from below. Between taking photos, they inspect the photos on their phones and renegotiate the best way to take more photos.

What is in the background of these carefully curated selfies? It's the Apple Fifth Avenue store. Or rather, it's the entrance to the store. A glass cube with a glowing apple logo, suspended, as if hanging midair.

You might see these tourists spend at least ten minutes outside the store, posing and smiling for these selfies. After spending all this time capturing the building behind them, why do these tourists then walk away, without ever entering the store?

The obvious answer might be that these tourists already own what's inside the store. In fact, if it weren't for their phones, they might not be taking any selfies at all. But if you've ever been inside the Apple Fifth Avenue store, you know that these tourists are still missing out.

Because you see, the inside of the store offers its own spectacular view - a giant spiral staircase, wrapped around a central column. And what do you see? More mirrors.

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