As New York’s Oldest Toy Store, Mary Arnold Toys has something for everyone— from board games and legos to scooters for adults.
Mary Arnold opened the store in 1931 between 69th and 70th on Lexington. An exceptional businesswoman, she was an expert in her craft and guided the shop towards success during her time. The store was passed down to her daughter and remained within the family until the 1970s, when Pamela Hirsch became the owner. Hirsch, a local from the neighborhood, created a strong brand for the store; she made a gingerbread-like facade, and designed well crafted wrapping paper that is still used today.
In the 1980s, the store moved onto a new era of leadership. Ezra Ishayik, the current owner to this day, purchased Mary Arnold Toys with his siblings, David and Hope. Ezra, who originally came from Iraq, left his home country at seventeen years old for Iran in 1955. From there, he traveled to Israel and England, before arriving in the United States in 1966 on the Queen Mary.
Today, Ezra works side by side with his daughter, Judy. The two believe that it isn’t just the two of them, however, that keeps customers returning. They attribute their success to the amazing team of employees, who took the lead in virtual shopping, enforcing social distancing measures, and helping customers over the phone during Covid. Though the shop is no longer in its original location, the Ishayik family keep Mary Arnold’s legacy alive by providing quality toys for the community. They work with over 450 companies to ensure that they keep their chock-filled shelves loaded with the very best inventory.
As they have moved locations along Lexington Avenue over the years, Judy warmly stated, “Our customers have been so welcoming and supportive. We are so grateful to be a part of this community. Many are now grandparents. How wonderful to see the next generation shopping with us. We all get to do the cycle again. Not something you see every day in NY.”
The mid-century apartment building at the southwest corner of Lexington Avenue and East 81st Street replaced six different late 19th century buildings on Lexington Avenue, East 81st, and East 80th Street. At the corner, two six-stories apartment buildings were designed by architect Fred. T. Camp and built in 1885. The pair was designed to look like one large building with symmetrical facades both at Lexington Avenue and East 81st Street and was commissioned by German descendent Frederick Correll. At East 81st Street, a row of three five-story brick tenements commissioned by John Casey were also demolished. 112, 114, and 116 East 81st Street were built in 1887 and designed by the prominent architectural firm Thom & Wilson. Arthur M. Thom and James W. Wilson were very prolific architects of the end of the 19th century. They designed hundreds of rowhouses, apartment and tenement buildings, and civic structures throughout the city. Two of their most prominent works were the 1894 Manhattan Criminal Courts, demolished in 1939, and the Harlem Courthouse, which still stands at 170 East 121st Street. A three-story brownstone at 121 East 80th Street was demolished to make way for the new building's garage entrance. The rowhouse was built in 1886 as part of five brownstones designed by architect and developer Charles Buek & Co. Buek was a German architect who designed and built speculative rowhouses in the 1880s. The existing 15-story building that replaced the historic structures was built between 1954 and 1958, and designed by Brooklyn born architect Paul Resnick. Resnick, of Russian and German ancestry, was responsible for over 100 buildings throughout New York City, most notably, the 20-story apartment building at Sutton Place South that spans over the FDR.