Saturday, April 19, 2008

Department Store Buildings of the Week, No. 4

Missed last week, so here is a double-header from Elizabeth, N.J.

At left, the gray building was officially Levy Bros. of Elizabeth, N.J., Inc., at 76 Broad St. Levy Bros. started as a women's-wear store and grew in the 1920s into a full-line fashionable department store. At right is the R.J. Goerke Co. building at 100 Broad St. Rudolph Goerke had a department store in Newark, which is six miles from Elizabeth. At the time Elizabeth had just small dry-goods stores, so Goerke and partner E.A. Kirch invaded booming Elizabeth with its first real department store. In the 1920s the Goerke family expanded, buying Lit Bros. in Philadelphia. The Depression put an end to that, the Newark store was closed, and the Goerkes were left with just the Elizabeth store, but soon they were back in an expansionist mode, buying the Rosenbaum Bros. store in Plainfield. Eventually it became part of the Steinbach-Howland-Genung's operation referred to earlier.

Elizabeth had quite a run as a shopping hub, but eventually its suburbs and Newark's and New York's all grew together, and Elizabeth's stores and its newspaper (the Daily Journal) all became irrelevant in the broader suburbs and disappeared.

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