B. Altman and Company was a luxury department store founded in 1865 in New York City by Benjamin Altman. In 1906, it moved its location from lower Manhattan to a full-block building on the corner of 34th Street and Fifth Avenue. It was the only parcel of land that did not apply to the Murray Hill restriction banning commercial real estate development. In deference to the exclusive neighborhood, Mrs. Astor’s mansion was across the street, Mr. Altman had the building designed to replicate a Florentine palace, and the department store’s name did not appear on the outside of the building until the 1950s.
The rooms on the executive floor were a facsimile of the 1916 interiors of Benjamin Altman’s Fifth Avenue home, the reception area was a replica of Altman’s well-known Renaissance room. Fine art adorned the wood-paneled walls beyond the anteroom, with elaborately carved woodwork accenting the hallways. The President’s Room was a reproduction of Altman’s personal library, while the Board Room was a faithful rendering of his dining room. Oriental carpets lay on the polished parquet floor, and Dana never ceased to marvel at the rich interior of the executive suite and its expensive art collection no matter how many times she entered the area. It had the ambience of a corporate cathedral.