Southern California Department Stores – Hamburgers

HAMBURGERS/Peoples Store

Downtown Los Angeles . 1910

Alex Hamberger opened his first store, The People’s Store, on Main Street in Los Angeles. Because of the success of that store, he opened A. Hamburger & Son  in 1908 in a new building at 8th & Broadway Streets. The building was Beaux Arts and designed by Alfred F. Rosenheim, a well-regarded architect. The store boasted as having the ‘largest aisle in the West”. The building offered open floors. The Arrow Theatre was located on the fifth floor. The store served the value-oriented customer in Los Angeles. Probably the biggest mistake was to locate the store at 8th and Broadway Streets, one block south of Bullock’s at 7th and Broadway. By then the better stores started to move West on 7th Street. In 1923, the partners of the May Department Stores Company acquired Hamburger’s and converted the store’s name to May Company. Later it became known as May Southern California. The building was closed as a retail store in the 1980′s. Today, the building is the home to the Broadway Trade Center. Hamburger’s claimed the store was the largest in the West. It also boasted about the length of the main aisle and the openess of the construction.

For more history of this retail building,  I refer you to our blog on May Company in Southern California.

Postcard of the Hamburger’s store are shown below. If there is anyone around who has memories of Hamburger’s before it became May Company, I hope you will memorialize your experiences in the Comments Section for others to see and enjoy. Obviously, I only knew the downtown building when it was occupied by May Company- Southern California. My family did tell me that the original store was Hamburger’s, but they did not tell me much about the store other than that there was a public library in the building.

Downtown Los Angeles . 1920

Mail Aisle

Dental and Manicure Departments

Women’s Shoes/Men’s Clothing

Silver & Jewelry/Ladies Restroom/Pictures/Art

Millinery/Trimmed Hats/Coaks/French Gowns

Furniture/Piano/Doll/Drapery/Infant Wear Departments

Soda & Candy/Cigar/Drug/Book Departments

Dinnerware/Cut Glass/Home Decor/Lamp Departments

Broadway and Eighth September 1909 Celebrating Elk’s Convention

NOTE: These postcards are part of the Plummer collection. You must have John Plummer’s written permission to copy or reproduce any of these postcards.

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12 Responses to “Southern California Department Stores – Hamburgers”

  1. Lon Sirin says:

    My partner and I stumbled over here coming from a different page and thought I might check things out. I like what I see so i am just following you. Look forward to looking over your web page again.

  2. Helen Nelson says:

    Some years ago I purchased a small, leaf-shaped metal memento advertising the Fall Opening of Hamburgers, dated Sept 26 to 28, 1904. This predates the 1908 Hamburgers store on 8th and Broadway in Los Angeles, so I’m not sure which store it was advertising.

  3. I enjoy that you place superlative content out that is clear and well-written.

  4. What got you involved with this?

  5. jplummer says:

    I started collecting these postcards many years ago. I would see these stores close and there was not much written about them, let alone pictures saved. Later it grew into an obsession.

    When I started in department stores they controlled a major part of the market share. I watche the market share decline rapidly and could see the reasons why. I could see that those inside the department store segment were so insular that they did not see it coming unitl it was too late. Department stores of today are not even near what those were yesterday, nor should they be.

    I just want to preserve that time in retail history so students will understand why the stores grew to be so large and mostly so ornate.


  6. Chris says:

    Your postcard collection is superlative. I’ve been avidly collecting vintage Los Angeles postcards for about 3 years and you have view of Hamburger’s that No One has!

  7. Hey all, I was simply checking out this blog and I actually appreciate the foundation of the article, very nice work.

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  9. Homer Hopper says:


    My wife’s grandfather (Albert Driver) immigrated to Southern California from Canada. He was hired at Hamburger’s as an “Assistant Buyer” on the Furniture Floor when he was 15, and then worked for May Co. He eventually moved on to Montgomery Wards, and then as a buyer for Jim McMahan, before winding up with several stores of his own (A.W. Driver Home Furninshings) in the Alhambra area.

  10. Excellent article over again . I am looking forward for your next post :)

  11. These are great blogs. Thanks for posting.

  12. Sandy Renshaw says:

    I just discovered today on per my Grandfathers “U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918″ he worked as a “Clerk” for Hamburger’s as of 9/12/1918. He was 20 years old. He later became a Set Decorator for Warner Brothers and for Disney =

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