What an 1895 photo of a Midtown shop tells us

This is Charles Westphalen and his wife, Anna, with their two young boys outside their German specialty food store on Seventh Avenue and 31st Street.

Charles Westphalen and Co

It’s 1895. Charles, in his 30s, is the son of German immigrants who arrived in New York in the 1830s—part of the first great wave of German immigration that reshaped the city.

The specialty food shop the couple ran was their livelihood for many years. Tea and coffee must have been big items; they’re named on the store awning.

Pennstation1911Jars with cloth tops, canned goods, what looks like fresh fruit and vegetables as well as a crate of soap powder can be seen.

It’s something like the corner bodega of today’s New York but aimed at Germans looking for a taste of their homeland.

You won’t find a trace of Charles Westphalen’s store today, however.

He was forced to move, along with other businesses occupying the block, in the early 1900s to make way for Penn Station.

[Thanks to H.W. for sending this photo of his great-grandfather, great-grandmother, and grandfather (the tow-headed toddler) and sharing his family history.]

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4 Responses to “What an 1895 photo of a Midtown shop tells us”

  1. Walk About New York Says:

    That is SO sweet: a family relative 100+ years on keeping this history alive. Good show!

  2. Herbert Says:

    Thanks, we are very proud of our family history, which goes back to the 1460s.

  3. Shaun Hervey Says:

    Thanks for sharing, Herb

  4. Lady G. Says:

    I love when families takes the time and effort to preserve their histories. That’s a beautiful photo. A real treasure.

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