Seventh Street, Northwest

Anchored by the bustling Center Market on Pennsylvania Avenue, 7th Street, NW, became the city’s main business district and a center of Jewish residential and religious life.

Many German-speaking Jewish immigrants got their start on 7th Street, NW. Isadore Small owned a hardware store on the site of what is now the Verizon Center. Amid smaller furniture, jewelry, and millinery shops, Hahn’s opened its flagship shoe store at 7th and K in 1898. Several Jewish merchants with shops along 7th Street expanded them into fashionable department stores.

By the 1890s, Russian immigrants began moving to the area and opening small businesses. Barnett Cohen and son-in-law Hymen Goldman supplied local merchants with wholesale jewelry, hosiery, and gloves. Mayer Dodek opened Dodek’s Furniture & Clothing on 7th Street between H and I Streets in 1898.

The neighborhood was our whole life.

Albert Small Oral History, 1981

We got to Baltimore on a Saturday morning in 1911 and came right to Washington. On Sunday, my uncle took me…(to) 7th Street, and he got me a new suit and made me an American.

Israel Orlove Oral History, 1981

7th street

1890s-1920s: Jewish-owned shops populated the 7th Street neighborhood, including King’s Palace and Goldenberg’s “The Dependable Store.” Saks & Company sold “everything that men and boys wear.”

Courtesy of Library of Congress.

Behrend business card

Bendiza Behrend’s business card

JHSGW Collections. Gift of Lawrence Gichner. 1986.04

Lansburgh business card

Julius Lansburgh’s business card

JHSGW Collections. Gift of Lawrence Gichner. 1986.04

B. Cohn store

1913: This photo shows Barnett Cohen (left) and Hymen Goldman (center) in front of their wholesale goods store at 622 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.

JHSGW Collections. Gift of Aaron Goldman. 1998.60

Rich's shoes interior

1899: A downtown fixture that first opened in 1869, Rich’s Shoe Store is shown here at its 10th and F Street location.

Courtesy of Library of Congress

Lansburgh building

1882: The former Baltimore House expanded to a grand 24,000-square-foot department store renamed Lansburgh & Brothers. A downtown landmark for 114 years, it featured the first commercial elevator in Washington and a skylight that enabled shoppers to see the color of imported fabrics and fine silks in natural light.

Courtesy of Washingtoniana Division, DC Public Library.

Kann's store

1893: Solomon Kann and his three sons opened S. Kann & Co. Their motto “the customer is right” clashed with their “strictly cash” policy. Even the request of the President’s wife, Mrs. Grover Cleveland, to charge a purchase was politely refused.

Courtesy of Bernei Burgunder.

Hecht's store

1896: Alexander and Moses Hecht launched Hecht’s Greater Stores. In 1924, they opened this new store—the first to promote nationally advertised brands—at 7th and F Streets. Hecht’s was the longest surviving link to the early glory days of the downtown department stores.

Courtesy of Washingtoniana Division, DC Public Library.

Mayer Dodek

1898: Mayer Dodek, a 7th Street merchant, left his business to fight in the Spanish-American War. His son Samuel’s first job was running errands for Kahn Optical Company on 7th Street. Samuel Dodek later became one of Washington’s leading obstetricians.

JHSGW Collections. Gift of Samuel Dodek. 1993.04

Isadore Small and family

c. 1910: Isadore Small (back row, right) is shown here with his family, including son Albert (front row, left). He lived at 725 5th Street, NW, just a few short blocks from his 7th Street hardware store.

Courtesy of Carolyn Small Alper.

7th street
Behrend business card
Lansburgh business card
B. Cohn store
Rich's shoes interior
Lansburgh building
Kann's store
Hecht's store
Mayer Dodek
Isadore Small and family