iPhones 5C/5S launch: Record crowds at Apple's 5th Ave. Store

September 20, 2013: 7:35 AM ET

By 7 a.m. Friday the line snaked down 58th St, up Madison Ave, and across 59th Street.

The corner of 5th Ave. and 58th Street. Photo: PED

The corner of 5th Ave. and 58th Street. Photo: PED

FORTUNE -- Dawn had broken by the time I made it to Apple's (AAPL) flagship Fifth Avenue store Friday morning. The barricades were already in place, and the crowd of would-be customers had filled Apple Plaza and circled the block.

I started a head count at 7:00 a.m. and 10 minutes later reached 1,068 at the end of the line, half-way up 58th Street.

That's 50% more than the 710 I counted at the same time last year for the iPhone 5 launch, which itself was 52% higher than the line for the 4S.

I'll do another count just before the 8 a.m. launch.

Photo: PED

Photo: PED

Final pre-launch line count as of 7:53: 1,213, with new customers joining the queue at the rate of about 15 per minute.

Everybody I asked was there to buy the iPhone 5S. Anybody who wanted a 5C , of course, could order it online.

By 8:45, when I went back to see how much the crowd had grown, the line was snaking up 5th Ave. and the count had swelled to 1,410.

SeeĀ Video: Walking the iPhone 5C/S line at Apple's Fifth Ave. store

Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster's posted a similar count: 1,417 at the big glass cube plus another 405 at Apple's Upper West Side store.

Here, for reference purposes, is Munster's updated line-count chart.

Screen Shot 2013-09-20 at 1.34.55 PM

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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