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.
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.
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.]