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Apple's Upper West Side beacon unwrapped

The Upper West Side Apple store opens Saturday morning.

By Andrew Heining / November 12, 2009

The Apple Store Upper West Side as seen from the street Thursday. Its arched glass roof and all-glass front light up the neighborhood at night.

Lucas Jackson/Reuters

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What's the secret to selling Apple stuff? Showcase it in gleaming monuments of glass and light.

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That seems to be the message Apple is sending with Wednesday night's unveiling of its fourth Manhattan store, an 8,500 square-foot big-box of Mac-moving might. The store at 1981 Broadway opens for business Saturday morning at 10, and the first 2,500 through the doors get a commemorative t-shirt (to sell on eBay).

Gary Allen, who covers Apple store openings around the world at IFOAppleStore.com (IFO for In Front Of, the place devoted fans often find themselves camping out ahead of store openings), was one of the first to write of the finished store's unveiling, and has put up a large gallery here.

Giant racquetball court? Waste of space?

Early comments on the store's design have been largely positive. An expansive, soft-stone selling floor surrounded by 45-foot marble floors and capped by an arched all-glass roof dotted with spotlights that make the space gleam at night give the space a hangar-like feel. One IFO commenter likened the wide-open design of the store to a jai-alai court.

With all that open space – the pictures at IFO and Gothamist make it look enormous, and it is Apple's largest single selling floor – it's hard not to question the environmental impact requirements of maintaining the store's climate. Nowhere in Apple's press release does it mention any environmentally-friendly features of the new store – not even a green (but not green) roof like Boston's store has. With the pains Apple has taken to ensure its products go easy on the environment, it'd be a shame if its flagship emporiums didn't toe the same line.

International expansion

Apple stores seem to be popping up just about everywhere these days. The Louvre (yes, that Louvre) just got one. And Apple retail head Ron Johnson said Thursday that the company has plans to open 40 to 50 more stores over the next year, with international locations planned for London, Paris, and two in Shanghai.

So far, New York's Fifth Avenue store is one of New York's most profitable, even though it occupies some of the most expensive real estate in the world.

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See also:

A Microsoft cafe in Paris? Oui!

Microsoft tempting away Apple’s retail help?

What's your take on Apple's new store in New York? Know anyone who's waited in line for a store opening? Leave a comment, and catch up with us on Twitter.

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