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Inside Apple's new Upper East Side store (pictures)

The consumer-tech giant is hosting a grand opening for its sixth Manhattan store. Apple built its space inside a 93-year-old Madison Avenue bank building, which includes the original vault remade as a VIP showroom.

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Ben Fox Rubin
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1 of 19 Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

Polishing up an old building

At a Thursday media event ahead of the grand opening, Jason Barlia, Apple's market director for Greater New York, said his company spent a long time looking for just the right building in the Upper East Side and found it at 940 Madison Ave., just across the street from the former home of the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Apple's retail store sales growth has been slowing, as its clean and modern store designs have been mimicked in some ways by Samsung and Microsoft. Locations like the one at Madison Avenue should help Apple stay one step ahead of its competitors by offering a more unique shopping experience and assist it in presenting itself as a luxury brand.

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2 of 19 Via Public Records

A 93-year-old building

The stone building, with two stories and a basement floor, first opened in 1922 as a US Mortgage and Trust Co. bank building.

The second floor is occupied by jewelry house David Webb. Apple has taken up the ground and basement floors, which were previously occupied by VBH, a luxury handbag retailer.

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3 of 19 Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

Welcome inside

Here's Barlia, center, greeting reporters and photographers inside the location. "They're all uniquely different," he said of Apple's six Manhattan locations, which include the iconic Fifth Avenue store with its large glass cube and the Grand Central Terminal location situated atop a marble staircase.

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4 of 19 Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

Apple's sixth Manhattan store

Apple will staff the Madison Avenue location with 200 retail employees, who will now be part of the company's 2,000 total Manhattan retail staff, Barlia said.

The company started with its first Manhattan store in 2002 in SoHo with 40 employees there.

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5 of 19 Via Public Records

This old bank

Apple used historic pictures, like this one, of the former bank to reconstruct elements of the space that were taken away by past tenants. The teller windows along the wall were not brought back.

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6 of 19 Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

The iVault

Walking down the original marble staircase, customers can find the bank's original vault, which was recreated as a VIP showroom.

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7 of 19 Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

Step inside

Here's a closer view of the vault's door. The Madison Avenue store isn't Apple's first with an original bank vault inside; the Paris Opera location also includes one.

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8 of 19 Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

In the vault

The vault for now will be used for trials of the Apple Watch Edition -- a smartwatch that costs up to $17,000 -- and in the future could host workshops and business customers.

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9 of 19 Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

Old chandeliers are new again

Among the elements Apple brought back were the chandeliers, shown here on the ground floor. Apple hired Brooklyn crafts workers to remake the lighting, using the historical photographs as a guide.

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10 of 19 Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

Up-close with a chandelier

These aren't the original chandeliers, but are as close as Apple could get.

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11 of 19 Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

Botticino marble floors

Apple brought back other architectural pieces including the original paint color, which was uncovered after removing layers of old paint. The floors, wainscoting and pilaster were remade using Botticino marble -- the Italian marble used at Grand Central Terminal -- to match the portico and staircase.

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12 of 19 Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

Original bronze doors

Apple also kept the bank's original exterior bronze doors and restored the exterior facade of the building.

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13 of 19 Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

Locally sourced iPhone art

The art on the walls are pieces taken by New York photographers of the Upper East Side using, of course, Apple's iPhone 6 smartphones.

Apple will be giving away books of these photographers' iPhone art at the grand opening Saturday.

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14 of 19 Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

Apple Watch display

A display for the Apple Watch, the company's newest device, is right up front, with a handful of Apple Watch Editions kept under the glass.

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15 of 19 Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

Ahrendts hired to boost retail

The company last year hired Angela Ahrendts -- the former Burberry CEO -- as its head of Apple’s online and in-store sales to turn things around in retail, as well as figure out how to sell the Apple Watch.

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16 of 19 Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

Time to accessorize

On the other side of the basement floor, across from the vault, is the accessories room, which includes speakers, headphones, cords and iPhone cases.

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17 of 19 Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

iPhone case wall

The space includes a display filled with iPhone cases, each with an individual drawer containing cases available for sale.

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18 of 19 Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

Beats speakers

Nearby is a display for Beats speakers. Apple purchased Beats last year for $3 billion.

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19 of 19 Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

Look for the flag

The Madison Avenue store doesn't include a big, bright Apple sign, so just look for the Apple flag waving outside.

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