"It feels like time to say goodbye to this part of my life,'' Streisand said during her parting words at a sold-out Madison Square Garden.
The crowd seemed touched but, as the long standing ovation might attest, was reluctant to say goodbye.
"There's a magic about her. Chills just go down through your spine. It's hard to let her go,'' said Alan Zaslow, who came from Philadelphia for Streisand's curtain call.
The show, titled "Timeless,'' was a retrospective of Streisand's life and career. Between songs, she shared memories of her early days playing small clubs in Greenwich Village, singing with Benny Goodman's orchestra and doing duets with Judy Garland and the Bee-Gees' Barry Gibb.
The show opened with a skit of Streisand, portrayed by 15-year-old Lauren Frost, and her mother at the young singer's first recording session.
As Streisand recalled, the piano player told her she would never make it because she was "too undisciplined,'' that she "could never sing the same way twice.'' Streisand then joined Frost for a duet of "Something's Coming.''
Streisand, whose live performances have been few and far between, also explained to the audience why she couldn't bring herself to perform live for nearly 30 years.
She described playing in Central Park in the late 1960s and being struck by such tremendous stage fright that she couldn't remember the words to three songs. "I was so traumatized,'' she said.
Streisand appeared to be over her stage fright Thursday, quickly warming up and singing with a full orchestra backing her.
Although Streisand at times seemed flat, or her notes clipped, for the most part she was vintage Barbra.
She performed a 28-song set, including such notable numbers as "There's a Place for Us,'' "Send in the Clowns'' and "Don't Rain on My Parade'' from the show "Funny Girl.'' She closed with her signature "People.''
At one point, Streisand performed a duet with herself, standing in front of a screen playing a scene from the movie "Yentl.''
Streisand reminded the crowd that she had no intention of retiring but said she wanted "what everybody else wants: more time to do things for myself and to live my life. I have been working since I was 11.''