Like a museum of millinery

Muhlfelders hats Albany Institute

We were thinking about retail in downtown Albany last week when this photo popped up in one of the streams from the Albany Institute of History and Art -- it's a photo of the hat section at the women's clothing store Muhlfelder's around 1905.

There's something about the way the store is staged here, like it's a museum of millinery. It must have been a fun place to browse.

Muhlfelder's was at North Pearl Street and Steuben Street in downtown Albany. The store was founded by Jonas Muhlfelder, who emigrated from Germany to the United States as a young man in the late 1800s and ended up working in a millinery store in Albany. At the age of 21 he opened a women's clothing store in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, with locations following in Troy, Albany (in 1900), and New Haven, Connecticut. (The company would later add a store at the then-relatively new Stuyvesant Plaza in 1965.) He was apparently successful enough that he could retire at age 55. [The History of New York State Biographies, Part 20] [Knickerbocker News/Fulton History]

Over at the Albany Muskrat, there's a great post chronicling Muhlfelder's newspaper ads from the 1910s through the 1960s. It doubles as a tour through women's fashion of the first half of the 20th century. (Julie notes that Muhlfelder's closed in the early 1970s.)

Image: "Muhfelder's Hats 41 North Pearl Street and Steuben Street," Albany Institute of History and Art, from the collection of Morris Gerber

Comments

Great piece. Albany once had a number of estimable men's stores as well, all of which (with the exception of Spector's, I think) have disappeared. As for Morris Gerber, you might recall that he was the author of a number of collections devoted to old Albany (in fact, they were named that), published back in the 60s and 70s, I think. Great books... I think Dove & Hudson has a few in stock if you wander down there.

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