FAO Schwartz is the oldest toy store in America and one of the most famous in the world. It was founded in Baltimore in 1862 by German immigrant Frederick August Otto Schwartz, thus the initials FAO. In the beginning the store was called the Schwartz Toy Bazaar and before the entrepreneur opened the New York site in 1870, there had already been one in Boston and Philadelphia. By the end of the 19th century the New York store had changed three locations and become the largest toy store in the city, where it was known as "Original Santa Claus Headquarters." However, its official name by then was FAO Schwartz.
The Schwartz family sold their shares in the enterprise in 1961 and the business moved to its present location on Fifth Avenue in the General Motors Building in 1986, when it was bought by Morse Partners Ltd. Currently, the store is owned by the giant American toys corporation, Toys "R" US.
FAO Schwartz is known throughout the world for its expensive, high-quality toys, which include life-sized stuffed animals and dolls, intricate children's gadgets, elaborate games and clothes. It also boasts a floor piano that is played with one's feet. This instrument was immortalized in the film Big with Tom Hanks. Whether you are a child or not, the store will definitely leaving you gaping.