Reflection Four – History Project Reflection


I suppose that in the heart of my hearts I wish that this project had given me more grief, because I do so love to whine about how hard projects are to the people that are grading me (joke). However, I found myself enjoying the history project as I spent the two weeks writing it. It wasn’t necessarily the process that was exciting, but rather, it was the pride that I took in my work after I had finished. Going through it, I felt as though I had written a quality paper.

When I first embarked on the task of writing up the project, I was a little confused and hesitant. “Write however much you need to,” I was told, when I asked about length of the paper. Usually when I ask this question and teachers answer me, I can get them to confess what they are looking for. “How long have other papers been in the past?” I had asked innocently. “I don’t know,” you said. “I’ve never done this project before.”

So. I decided that I would ask around at what everyone else was doing, and then double it. But I felt a little bit more comfortable with the arduous task of writing however much I “needed to”. I could do that. I would write and write until I had nothing left to say.

I found myself becoming more enthusiastic about my paper as I learned more about it. In my head, the quintessential New Yorker is someone that is able to spout history about a place in the city, as if a chip was placed in their brain at birth. This is obviously not what happens – the Manhattan babies grow up learning things about the places that surround them, and they grow up to be Manhattan adults, casually lecturing the awestruck people that have the fortune to be with them. I meant what I said in my history paper, too. Macy’s is important to me. It’s silly to think so highly of a store, but Macy’s has been there my entire life. My father courted my mother in her Macy’s clothes, while her maternity wear was newly bought from the women’s sections. As a child, my mother would take us shopping to the upstairs dresses, picking out matching Christmas velvets and Easter pastels to wear in photos taken in another section of the mall. To see how professional and progressive the store was, even at such an early age, helped me to see how important it was to tell the story of the historical department store.

I learned that it is indeed difficult to be a historian, when making a current observation. It’s awkward to take notes on your phone and scout out different customers around the store. It felt weird taking pictures of the things that I wasn’t about to buy, but more than that, it felt weird to enter such a large store alone. I don’t really ever shop without another person there to accompany me, so simply being in a department store by myself held a certain aspect of perversity to it. However, I am sure that had I taken someone along with me, I would not have been able to deliver the current observation that I was supposed to make properly. A good portion of my paper is devoted to the emotions that I felt when I stood there, alone in the Macy’s, being sheltered by the rich fabrics and protected by the breathing walls. I wouldn’t have noticed this if I was there with someone else. That was an experience that I needed to have all on my own.

I was a little surprised on the history that I had found in the Macy’s – I continually expected that there would be some sort of hiccup in the progress of the expanding store, a black mark that wasn’t framed in the red and gold of the website, but spoken of on universities and governmental sites. The only thing that I could find that was remotely unsavory was the tiny deli that refused to sell to the growing department store. Instead of putting up any sort of fuss, the shop simply built around the deli. It’s now decorated as a large shopping bag, as if to warn off anyone that would attempt to stop Macy’s from progressing, while simultaneously encouraging passerby to take part in getting a bag just like it. To me, success is achieved through conflict, through crushing other businesses and holding a take-no-prisoners philosophy. You can’t have a business like Rockefeller without stepping on a few toes. Even so, this company showed me that perseverance and development and growth can be achieved by being first, being lucky, and being great. That’s what the Macy’s is. Now, every Thanksgiving and Christmas, televisions across the world lovingly enthuse over the shop, making it a cultural icon of not only New York, but America itself.



3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. nycpaulotics
    Apr 28, 2014 @ 16:59:03

    Something about the professional informality attracts me to Anna’s blog. In almost all of her posts she provides written work in the context of her thoughts. I almost feel as if im sitting in her brain, listening to her thoughts while also completely understanding it fully. Grammar can either be your best friend or worst enemy. Often times authors seek to use grammar in order to convey a message in a specific tone. Using dashes as well as other grammatical tools can add everlasting effects on the reader. Anna’s project on Macy’s is still one of my favorite historical narratives. The imagery and organization throughout the piece allows the reader to follow a story line throught the massive department store. Overall, I really appreciate the tone that Anna uses within her blog posts.


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