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Lyman Bloomingdale

(1841 - 1905)

Lyman Bloomingdale was an American businessman and philanthropist. He is best known for retail, and in April 1872 founded Bloomingdales Department Store on 56th Street in New York City with his brother Joseph.

Lyman Bloomingdale was born on February 11, 1841 in New York City. The son of the Bavarian-born, German Jewish immigrants Benjamin Bloomingdale and Hannah Weil, Lyman and his brother Joseph were trained in the retailing of ladies clothing at their father's store. Lyman Bloomingdale was educated at various public schools in New York, and also atteneded Smith's Collegiate Institute. He served as a non-commissioned officer in the Kansas Volunteers in the Civil War.

Going into the retail business for themselves, on April 17, 1872, the Bloomingdale brothers opened their first store at 938 Third Avenue, New York City, between 56 and 57 streets. Lyman and his wife Hattie Cullenberger lived in an apartment above the store.  With Lyman as the sole proprietor, the Bloomingdale brothers' new store sold a wide variety of European fashions, anchored through their own buying office in Paris. Their success resulted in the business outgrowing its premises and in 1886 they relocated operations to 59th Street and Third Avenue. His brother Joseph retired from the business on New Years Day 1896, but Lyman remained involved until his death. By 1898, the first of Jesse W. Reno’s patented "inclined elevators" (early escalators) were incorporated into the Bloomingdale Bros. store at Third Avenue and 59th Street. This was the first retail application of the devices in the US, and no small coincidence, considering that Reno's primary financier was Lyman Bloomingdale.

Involved in other business as well, Bloomingdale was president and director of the Walters Piano Company and Arcade Realty Company. Bloomingdale furthermore was a director for both the Vulcan Detinning Company and the Hudson Oil Company. In late August 1902, the newly formed Consolidated National Bank elected Bloomingdale as a director. He was a member of the Chamber of Commerce, as well as various civic institutions and the Lafayette Post. After his death in 1905, Lyman's sons Hiram and Samuel took over as heads of the department store. In 1929, Bloomingdale Brothers, Inc. was sold to the Federated Department Stores.

Source: Lyman Bloomingdale, Wikipedia, (January 22, 2018).