Once Upon a Time…08.10.2018

Posted on May 22nd, 2019 by

The Baltimore Jewish Times publishes unidentified photographs from the collection of Jewish Museum of Maryland each week. If you can identify anyone in these photos and more information about them, contact Joanna Church by email at jchurch@jewishmuseummd.org

JMM 1996.54.13

Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times: August 10, 2018

PastPerfect Accession #: 1996.054.013

Status: Unidentified – do you recognize either of theses members of the Rifkin family celebrating a Bar Mitzvah, circa 1930?

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Travels with Grace: Algiers, 1929

Posted on May 21st, 2019 by

Welcome to this week’s segment of our 2019 #TravelTuesday series: Traveling with Grace. Today Grace shares her first visit to shore in the city of Algiers. As mentioned earlier, Grace’s language and word choices are not always progressive – this entry in particularly contains insensitive and classist language.

July 4, 1929

Algiers, North Africa. When we come out on our balcony this morning a beautiful scene greets our eyes. There on the shore of the blue Mediterranean hangs a diadem of pearls, the white houses of Algiers gleaming softly in the morning sunlight, tapering up to a point on the hills. Soon a number of little boats of every description are swarming around us and little boys and men, almost nude, are diving into the water for coins which are thrown to them. They look exactly like frogs swimming about, their agile bodies browned to a bronzy hue. Then there is laid a long pontoon bridge which is quickly lined with native merchants displaying their several wares, notably rugs, tapestries, articles in copper and brass, curved knives and silver jewelry. Over this bridge we cross to the shore. It is very got in the sun, a dry heat, but pleasant in the shade and when driving. The city is half French, half Arab. The architecture is predominantly Moorish, though in the European quarter the houses are strongly reminiscent of Paris and they even have a park named after the Bois de Boulogne.

The city and harbor of Algiers, Algeria, from Collier’s New Encyclopedia. Volume 1, 1921. Via.

The Arab men wear the long white bernous, white turbans twisted around and around their heads, they are usually bare-footed and wear scraggly beards. The women are also swathed in white (not unfortunately spotless however), their faces veiled up to their eyes, no stockings but high-heeled slippers and a bracelet around each ankle. Nearly all of them carry babies. There are also a number of Turks wearing the red fez. These people are far from clean. Many of the little boys have monkeys on a leash and these are the commonest household pets. I was told they are caught over in the Atlas Mountains where they live wild. The manner of their capture is as follows: being very fond of nuts, they are enticed by gourds filled with this delicacy, into which they thrust a hand. With this hand full of nuts they cannot extricate it and they will not relinquish the prize. Thus struggling they are caught.

Former stronghold of Barbary Pirates, ocean front approach and mosque in distance, Algiers, 1925. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

We visited a carpet factory where oriental rugs are manufactured. Little girls from five years of age up to ten or twelve work at the looms. At each loom are two little girls and one older girl who sits between. They follow their patters with rich and deep colors and make the knots with incredible speed. (It is pitiful to see such tots work but it teaches them a trade and keeps them from mischief or from begging on the streets.) Their long plaits are wrapped closely in strips of cloth, they look like a chinaman’s queue and this is to prevent the hair from getting mixed up with their threads. Some of the little girls are quite pretty in a dark, roguish way. They beg slyly when the forelady is not looking. Next door is a shop where they sell the rugs and also beautifully embroidered shawls, scarves and dresses of the purest wool.

We next visit the governor’s winter palace, archbishop’s palace, Cathedral and Post Office, all handsome structures in the Moorish style, richly ornamented with mosaics in which light blue and gold predominate against a white background, and slender fluted columns of marble. Heavy doors of hard wood are embellished with carvings and large copper nail heads. The walls are covered with lacy arabesques while tall minarets and sparkling domes dominate the exteriors. We ride through the old Arab quarter and look up the little side streets which are in reality narrow winding stairways over which the walls of the houses almost meet. They lead up to the Kasbah or fortifications on the top of the pyramid formed by the buildings.

The Kasbah, 1920s. Via.

Here the natives live in the utmost squalor with no notion of sanitation. The wider thoroughfares are nearly all arcaded as a protection from the dazzling sunshine. Men are frequently seen sprawled out on the pavement fast asleep. We see the flea market where odds and ends of junk are sold and the produce market where the fruits and vegetables look very fine. We see a mosque and a synagogue, both similar in architecture. Most of the Jews look like Turks. On the principal shopping street, Rue de la Marine, are some pretty stores, the Bon Marche being similar to the one in Paris and the women seen in this section look very stylish. The Library, Opera House and National University are very nice buildings. We ride out in the open country, up through the hills where the breeze is blowing fresh from the sea. Here the vegetation is green and abundant. Numerous are the fruit trees of all kinds and there are very pretty farms, one we saw being the property of an American, Lovett Henn. There is a country club and extensive golf course, many of the villas are covered with the brilliant bouqainvillia via. We see the handsome summer residence o the Governor which commands a beautiful view, in fact there are many beautiful panoramas opening up form the hills down to the sea which remind me strongly of Nice and the Cote d’Azur. Palm trees abound and the air is fragrant with mimosa.

Jardin d’Essai du Hamma. Via.

On our way back to Algiers we pass the Pasteur Institute where there are lots of cows and we visit the Jardin d’Essait or botanical gardens where the most beautiful tropical plants and trees are growing in almost wild profusion. There are huge hibiscus trees, magnolia, rubber, banyan bamboo, and a lovely tree bearing yellow flowers and thin fringe-like leaves. A part of the garden is laid out in formal French style copied from Versailles, and they are building a new museum of fine arts which, when completed, will look like the Trocadero. We ride along the Quai. Many of the better class homes facing the sea are closed as the wealthy inhabitants live elsewhere during the summer.

Notre-Dame-d’Afrique, early 20th century. Via.

Crowning a high hill overlooking the sea, is the handsome Byzantine Cathedral of Notre Dame of Afrique Birkadem. Many of the Arab homes have flat roofs which serve as the family sitting room at night and here their poor women can unveil their faces and be comfortable. We go to call on the American Consul but do not find him in.

When we return to the ship, we find it full of visitors, this being its first visit to Algiers, they are holding open house and I think all of the European residents are availing themselves of the opportunity to inspect it. Refreshments are served to all. Tonight, a special dinner is served in honor of the 4th of July and the table are decorated with little Italian and American flags. Ice cream is served every night after the dance.

July 5, 1929: We are at sea again and this afternoon sight the Island of Sardinia. Tonight is the Captain’s dinner. Ship treats all to champagne.

Thanks for reading “Traveling with Grace,” a series where we’re sharing (and annotating) posts from the travel diaries of Grace Amelia Hecht, native Baltimorean, b. 1897 and d. 1955. Next week we pick up with the family as they visit Naples. As mentioned in my introductory post transcription errors sometimes occur and I’ve made my best guesses where possible, denoted by [brackets]. – Rachel Kassman, marketing manager


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Chronology: Baltimore’s Downtown Department Stores Part 4

Posted on May 20th, 2019 by

Compiled by K. Meghan Gross, former JMM curatorial assistant. Originally published in Generations – Winter 2001.

1956: Hecht’s opens a branch department store opposite the Edmondson Village Shopping Center.

The Hecht Company, feeling the need to expand its operation west of the city, built a large facility directly across from the already successful Edmonson Village Shopping Center. The parking area was built to accommodate 1,000 cars, and like its Northwood location, it was built as a “complete” store, with all departments represented. That same year Hutzler’s and Hochschild Kohn both open branches in Eastpoint.

1958: Hutzler’s opens in Westview.

Choosing a location father west than Hochschild Kohn and Hecht’s, Hutzler’s opened its second Baltimore branch location at Westview, which served as an anchor for the Westview Shopping Center. The department store and shopping center were situated at the junction of the newly opened (but not yet complete) Baltimore Beltway (I-695) and Route 40.

1959: Hochschild Kohn and Co. integrates its sales force.

Walter Sondheim, Jr. promotes stock clerk Mamie Collins to salesperson in the glove department.

1959: Hecht’s and the May Co. merge, closing The Hub store at Baltimore and Charles.

The Hecht Company made its appearance at the corner of Howard and Lexington Streets in 1959 when it merged with the May Company, which had occupied that corner since it bought Bernheimer-Leader in 1927. The store was then known as Hecht-May, and later, the Hecht Company. Hecht’s continued to operate its stores under its name at Baltimore and Pine Streets and at Howard and Franklin Streets, as well as its suburban stores in Northwood and Edmondson Village.

1959: Gutman’s and Brager’s merge.

Julius Gutman & Co. and Brager’s (formerly Brager-Eisenberg) shared the position of the “popular-price department store” until they merged in 1959. Brager’s vacated its location at Eutaw and Saratoga Streets to move into the Gutman location at Park and Lexington Street. Hochschild Kohn and Company then bought the former Brager building and moved its bargain shop there. Brager-Gutman’s, as it was called, continued to serve the bargain customer until it closed in 1984.

1960: Baltimore department stores integrate their lunch counters.

Responding to pressure from local college students at Morgan State University who protested department store segregation at Hecht’s Northwood branch and elsewhere, the department store managers made a joint decision to serve African Americans at lunch counters and provide equal credit and return policies.

1960: Hecht’s spends millions of dollars to renovate its Howard and Lexington Street store.

Hecht’s also expands its suburban store in Northwood.

1965: Hutzler’s Southdale opens.

The opening of Hutzler’s at the Southdale Shopping Center completed its chain of stores around the city. The shopping center was located at the intersection of Ritchie Highway and Mountain Road in Anne Arundel County. Hutzler’s also expanded its Eastpoint branch.

1968: Hochschild Kohn and Co. opens a new branch in the York Mall, York, PA.

The same year, the Hecht Company opened the largest complete department store on the Eastern Shore, located in the Salisbury Mall.

1977: Hochschild Kohn closes its downtown store.

Hochschild Kohn continued to expand its suburban stores, opening new branches in areas around the city. Despite growth in its suburban business, the downtown store gave way to economic difficulties caused by a declining urban population. In 1983, the former Hochschild Kohn building at Howard and Lexington was destroyed by fire.

1984: Downtown Hutzler’s moves to Atrium at Market Center.

Baltimore’s urban life declined in the late 1970s through the 1980s, causing many long-standing establishments to leave the former retail hub at Howard and Lexington Streets. Hutzler’s remained in the area but moved their operation to the Atrium at Market Center in 1984, only to reopen the Palace building in 1985. Hutzler’s then closed its downtown locations in 1989, making its Towson branch the flagship store. The Towson store and other branch locations closed in 1990.

1989: Hecht’s closes its downtown store.

The Hecht Company which still thrives today, remained at the corner of Howard and Lexington Streets until 1989. This company’s only surviving urban store is at Metro Center in Washington, DC. By 1993, Hecht’s was operating 45 stores in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia with a total of 74 stores on the East Coast.

1990: Hutzler’s closes all locations and goes out of business.

Many of the department store palaces still stand in Baltimore’s historic shopping district. Some are used as office space, while others have been adapted for residential property.

2001: The Jewish Museum of Maryland presents Enterprising Emporiums, an exhibition and catalog celebrating the history of the Jewish-owned department stores of downtown Baltimore.

~The End~

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