When one thinks of the common denominator of many of the upscale national clothing store chains in the U.S., one finds that many have Jewish names, such as Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue. Many may not be aware that Bloomingdale’s falls into the same genre.

Lyman Bloomingdale, founder of the department store featuring his surname, was born on February 11, 1841, in New York City to a Bavarian-born German Jewish immigrant, Benjamin Bloomingdale, and his wife, Hannah Weil. Along with his brother Joseph, Lyman learned the clothing business while working in their father’s ladies clothing store. Eventually, on October 3, 1872, the Bloomingdale brothers opened their first store called “The Bloomingdale Brothers Great East Side Bazaar” in New York City, featuring a variety of European fashions, which were dispatched to New York City from their buying office in Paris.

Lyman, his wife Hattie, and two sons Samuel and Hiram, lived above the store. In 1876, the family moved to larger quarters and added more children, Irving and Corrine. Due to their success, they moved the store in 1886 to 59th Street and 3rd Avenue in New York. It was on those premises in 1898, where the first patented “inclined elevator” (today we would call it an escalator) was introduced. Lyman Bloomingdale was the primary financier of this innovation, created by Jesse W. Reno. Among Lyman’s social and charitable associations was his presidency of the Isaiah Lodge, Independent Order of B’nai Brith, a founder of the Montefiore Home Country Sanitarium for Consumptives and Treasurer of Temple Beth El.

Lyman died on October 13, 1905. His sons Samuel and Hiram assumed the leadership of Bloomingdale’s, which was sold to the Federated Department Stores in 1994, and is now affiliated with Macy’s Department store. The holding company was re-named Macy’s. As of May 2020, the Bloomingdale’s name is affixed to 54 stores of which 34 are department stores throughout the United States.

This Treat was originally posted on October 3, 2018.

Copyright © 2020 NJOP. All rights reserved.