Inside Apple's Biggest U.S. Store

After years of waiting, planning and bickering, Apple has finally opened its flagship retail store in downtown Boston. Bostonians eagerly awaited the grand opening of the Boylston Street store at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 15. Interest had been piqued as the store was hidden from view, made up to look like the famed "Green Monster" left field wall of Red Sox home Fenway Park. The score board image proclaimed "Opening Day. Coming Soon."

Bostonians caught their first real glimpse of the structure on Tuesday, two days before opening day, when work crews peeled off the covering that had been hiding the new building from view.

Window washers dangle off the top of the new Apple Store at 815 Boylston Street in Boston, preparing for its grand opening.

No name adorns the front of the Apple store, just its famous logo. Observers got their first glimpse of the store front on May 13, two days before the grand opening festivities.

A clear glass facade fronts Apple's newest retail store. At 20,000 square feet, it is the largest Apple store in the U.S, second in size only to Apple's London Regent Street store. The Boston location houses three floors, two dedicated to Macs, iPhones and iPods and a top-floor Genius Bar, where some of the store's 165 employees dole out service with a smile.

Opening Day arrived on May 15, 2008. Thousands of people crowded outside the store to get inside, hoping to score a commemorative T-shirt, see some Boston Red Sox baseball players and maybe even buy some cool Apple gear. Many passers-by wondered what all the fuss was about. One mused, "What's the big deal? It will still be there tomorrow."

The line to get into the new Apple store stretched around the corner and down several blocks. Overheard on the line: "We definitely have to have a drink after this."

One lucky store visitor displays her commemorative shirt, which Apple employees were handing out as folks passed through the doors. She waited on line for an hour-and-a-half and spent about 30 minutes inside (Nope, she didn't buy anything). Her critique? "It's loud in there."

Several activists were on hand pushing a campaign to eliminate digital rights management (DRM), the technology used by publishers to restrict user access to digital content.

Other Boston storefronts did their best to cash in on Mac mania. The Samurai Boston sushi bar, located a few doors down from the Apple store, welcomed its new neighbor and tried to lure customers inside with a chalkboard sign that read "Welcome Apple. Samurai is open until 2 a.m."

Once inside, many store visitors flocked to the front of the store to gaze down at the crowd below.

Apple employees and security personnel monitored the long line, letting happy Mac addicts enter the store one small group at a time. The group on the left is about to get its chance.

Once inside the Mac Mecca, store visitors are run through a gauntlet of cheering, whooping, screaming, clapping Apple employees. Each visitor received a star's welcome, a commemorative T-shirt and several high-fives. When asked by a shopper what all the screaming was about, one Apple Specialist replied, "It's because we're very excited. I've been screaming for three hours." And that was at 7:30 p.m. Only three-and-a-half more hours until the store closes for the day.

The centerpiece of the Boston store is a glass spiral staircase that takes shoppers between its three floors.

A view of the first floor from the spiral staircase above. Here turquoise-shirted Mac specialists show off rows of iMacs to curious shoppers.

So Three Mac Specialists Walk Into a Bar ...

How many Mac specialists does it take to scan the barcode on an iPod? The answer, it seems, is three.

Thursday was an off day for Boston's beloved Red Sox, so many of the team's players were on hand to celebrate Apple's opening day. Here, shortstop Julio Lugo poses for the paparazzi.

Boston Red Sox shortstop Julio Lugo, seated, right, got a guided tour of the store, including technology demonstrations from Apple employees.

Shoppers browse a wall of iPhone and iPod accessories.

Michael Oh, president of Apple solution provider Tech Superpowers, which is located just behind the flagship Boston Apple retail store, decided to play a joke on his new neighbor while the building was still going up.

Oh, with a little help from construction workers, burried a Tech Superpowers T-shirt under a sidewalk outside the store just before the concrete was poured. For more on the prank, click here.