Moe Levy, Union Ave. at 160th St., Bronx, NY, 1988
Moe Levy "Outfitters to Man & Boy" (established 1882) was in business as Moses Levy, tailor, at 119 Walker St., New York City in 1896. Over the years Moses became Moe, then Moe Levy & Co., then Moe Levy & Son (Isador, in 1917).
Moe Levy (1865-1939) manufactured and retailed men's clothing and specialized in low prices. From the home base of 119-125 Walker St. (which would now be considered a part of Chinatown) he opened numerous branch outlets in the city including Brooklyn, the Bronx and Jamaica, Queens. Particularly long-lived was the branch store on East 149 St. in the Bronx, first at 409 E. 149 (1921-1939), then across the street at 380 E. 149 (1940-1951).
Moe Levy's obituary in the New York Times, 19 Aug. 1939, read in part, "Moe Levy, pioneer in the low-priced retail men's clothing field and founder of the chain of stores which bears his name, died of heart disease early yesterday morning in his home, 300 Central Park West. His age was 74. An outstanding figure among the clothing merchants of the city for many of the fifty-seven years since he started business in a tiny shop in Walker Street, Mr. Levy had been forced by his health to take a less active part in the business in recent years. His health had been failing for some time and he had been confined to bed for a week when death occurred. Mr. Levy's first little shop was on the site of the company's main store at 119 Walker Street. Seven other large stores scattered about the city make up the chain built up by the man who started to work at the age of 14. He was born in Suvalk, Russia, on Jan. 1, 1865, and was brought to this country when he was 3 years old. He went to work when he was graduated from grammar school and was still a boy when he went into business for himself. Despite his youth, Mr. Levy had a flair for retailing and he soon won a steady clientele. As his business increased and additional stores were opened and subsequently enlarged, Mr. Levy made a point of keeping in personal contact with his customers. Until his health failed he could be seen at his stores, always impeccably dressed and with a flower in his buttonhole. ... A few years ago Mr. Levy's failing health forced him to relinquish active management of the business. His son, Isadore, was made president of the company, while Mr. Levy became secretary-treasurer. ..."
Moe Levy & Son went out of business in the early 1950's.
This sign can be precisely dated to the range 1906-1908. (The branch locations at 1457 Broadway & 380-382 Fulton St., Brooklyn existed conjointly only in these years.) Click here for 1906 ad from the New York Times.
A beautiful photograph (which can be enlarged to show lots of nice detail) of another Moe Levy sign (from around 1927) can be found on Richard Kovacs' Greenwich Savings Bank web site. Oops! Richard seems to have left Earthlink; I'll try to track him down...
This ad for Moe Levy & Co. appeared in the New York Times, 23 March 1901 when the store was located at 119-125 Walker St. near Centre St.
A photo on www.shorpy.com shows a building with signs reading "Let Us Clothe You" / "Outfitters to Men and Boys" / "119 to 125 Walker St NY" / "Branch 1457 B'Way ..." / "Moe Levy & Co." The photo is identified as "Coney Island, New York, circa 1905."
Manhattan's Chinatown, by Daniel Ostrow, 2008, in the Postcard History Series, available as a google book shows a Moe Levy & Son outlet at the corner of Canal St. and Baxter St. in 1910.
This ad for Moe Levy & Son appeared in the New York Times, 20 June 1919 when "Our Only Store" was located at 119-125 Walker St.
This ad for Moe Levy & Son appeared in The Evening World, Friday, 15 July 1921. Stores were located at 119-125 Walker St., 173 Broadway, and 409 E. 149th St., the Bronx.
This ad from the 1924 Manhattan Telephone Directory claims over 40 years in business! The addresses were the same as in 1921.
A photograph on the New York Public Library's Digital Collections shows a Moe Levy sign next door to 195 Worth St., reading Moe Levy & Son Clothiers to Men and Boys. This is a photograph by Percy Loomis Sperr, dated 3 April 1926, with the comment "adjoining the N. E. corner of Mulberry Street."
The Moe Levy & Son location on 149th St. near 3d Ave., the Bronx, appears in another photo from the New York Public Library's Digital Collections.
A photo in the Mystic Seaport, Rosenfeld Collection is described as "8x10 safety negative photographed by Rosenfeld and Sons on April 30, 1930. Image of Moe Levy & Son Building at 173 Broadway, New York City."
As on Nov. 2011 artnet.com Galleries was showing a Walker Evans photograph with a Moe Levy & Son sign. This is dated circa 1934-1938.
Copyright © 2002 Walter Grutchfield