Table of Contents

A Walk Around the Commercial District of Los Angeles 1850 1860

Information from: Jackson Graves. My Seventy Years in California 1857-1927 (pp.110-111)

(The principal firms owned by the Jews were Hellman, Haas & Co., Newmark & Co., Jacoby Brothers, the City of Paris, owned by Eugene Meyer, Isaac Lankershim, Kalisher & Wartenberg, Polaski & Goodwin, S. Nordlinger, Levy & Coblentz, the Nortons, the Cohns, M. Laventhal, Sam Hellman and I. N. Hellman, all of whom were customers of the Farmers & Merchants Bank, except, possibly, Newmark & Co., who were customers of Temple & Workman. p.426)


On Main Street, at the southeast corner of Commercial, Polaski & Goodwin conducted a dry goods store. L. C. Goodwin, of this firm, came here in 1849, after the Mexican War. In 1853, he went into business with Polaski. In 1857, he sold out, went to Memphis and was engaged in buying and selling cotton. When the Civil War broke out he was long on cotton but short on patriotism. The federal troops burned his cotton. He entered the Confederate cavalry service, served through the war, and in 1865 returned to Los Angeles and again entered business with Polaski, at the same place in which they started in 1853.

On Commercial Street east of Polaski & Goodwin, Mr. Charles Prager had a dry goods store, and next to him Samuel Meyer a crockery store, and still east of him, W. J. Brodrick was engaged in the fire insurance business.

On Main Street, at the northeast corner of Commercial Sam Prager had a gents' furnishing goods store, and in the same building Charles Ducommun had a hardware store. He was the father of the Ducommun brothers, of the Ducommun Corporation, still in business in Los Angeles.

On the east side of Main Street opposite Temple Street, the Lanfrancos owned a two-story building, with an extensive frontage just south of the building which the Commercial Bank erected. The family lived on the upper floor. There, Mrs. Lanfranco died, in January, 1876, of the smallpox. Dr. Wise, dead some years ago, was her physician, and it was reported that he would not enter her room until he was first paid five thousand dollars in gold.

Next to the Commercial Bank Building beneath and in the corner of the Lanfranco Building, Mr. A. C. Chauvin had a grocery store, and adjoining him on the south, Dr. A. Heizeman conducted a fashionable drug store. Workman Brothers (one of whom, Mr. William Workman, was the father of Mr. Boyle Workman, recently president of the city council of Los Angeles), had a well-stocked harness and saddlery shop. Dotter & Bradley came next, with a well-equipped furniture store, the forerunner of the present Los Angeles Furniture Company.

At the corner of Main and Requena Streets, over Joe Brison's beer saloon, Dillon & Kenealy had a very excellent dry goods store. Where the Harper & Reynolds hardware store later stood, Sanguinetti & Rivera conducted the largest retail grocery store in Los Angeles.

Further down Main Street, in a two-story brick building, Matfield and Germain also had a grocery store, and nearly opposite them, Seymour & Johnson conducted a similar store, called The Grange. Still south of The Grange was Louis Lichtenberger's wagon-making shop, and next to him a man sold eastern-made Gates buggies and carriages.

At the northeast corner of First and Main Streets, Tommie Rowan had a bakery, inherited from his father.

On the northeast corner of Los Angeles and Commercial streets the wholesale district was established. Hellman, Haas & Company and Newmark & Company were the wholesale grocers. The former was on Los Angeles Street, the latter opposite, in the Stearns Block.

At the southeast corner of Los Angeles and Aliso streets Kalisher & Wurtemberg, dealers in hides, were in an adobe building. Years afterwards, a new three-story building was erected there by Hass, Baruch & Company, successors to Hellman, Haas & Company, who occupied the same for many years. Lips & Craigue, wholesale liquor dealers, were also in the Stearns Block, north of Newmark, and between the liquor store and Arcadia Street, some commission houses, including one conducted by Ralph Ellis, former Sheriff of Napa County, were located.

On the west side of Los Angeles Street in a one-story brick building south of Newmark & Company, Samuel C. Foy for many years conducted a harness shop and between him and Commercial Street was M. W. Childs' hardware, tin and stove-ware store.

At the northwest and southwest corners of Commercial and Los Angeles streets Frenchmen conducted wine stores.

On Los Angeles Street south of Commercial was Page & Gravel's wagon making shop. Several members of the Cohn and Norton families, besides Mendel Meyer and E. Laventhal, had clothing stores in various parts of the business section.

On Spring Street, north of the building where the city council met, Barrows & Furrey conducted a hardware and tinware store, for many years,. All of the clothing merchants carried shoes and I remember of but two strictly shoe houses in the city, one owned by Joe Mesmer, in the United States Hotel building, and one by W. J. McDonald in the same building but farther south. Where the Nadeau Hotel now stands, William Buckley had a stage office and barns for his animals. He ran a stage line over the coast route to San Jose. South of him, Louis Roeder had a blacksmith and wagon shop. Joseph Mullally burned all of the bricks used in the community, and Jake Witzler laid most of them up into buildings.



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