Albuquerque Jews: The Creator of the Downtown Business District

Photo of American Furniture c1930

American Furniture located in 200 block of South Second Street, c. 1930.
(Courtesy Albuquerque Museum)

Jews were major factors in the creation of Albuquerque’s Downtown Business District, helping to shape its growth and were among those that left in the postwar years. On Sunday, September 17, 2017 at 2:00 pm, UNM History Professor Dr. Noel Pugach’s presentation will analyze their contributions and highlight some of the major figures, such as the Mandells, Weillers, and Weinmans, and their enterprises.

When the railroad came to Albuquerque in 1880, a “New Town” business district began in the area west of the tracks. Many of those businessmen had Jewish roots. There were already Jewish merchant families like the Ilfelds and Spiegelbergs in northern NM who had come with the Santa Fe Trail. Some “New Town” merchants like the Rosenwald brothers had stores in Old Town and opened a branch in New Town. German born Jews and later eastern European born Jews with an entrepreneurial spirit came from the East. There were merchants of all kinds selling everything from food to stationary, watches, jewelry, dry goods, clothing, shoes, saddles. Well known Jewish owned downtown businesses were Maisel’s and American Furniture. Jews were also prominent in banking, medicine and politics.

The program will be held at the Albuquerque Museum in Old Town. Parking is free in the lot south of the Museum. Admission to the Museum and the AHS program is also free.

Photo of Dr. Noel PugachNoel Pugach is currently Professor Emeritus of History at UNM, where he has taught since 1968. He was raised in New York City and did his undergraduate work at Brooklyn College. He later received his M.A. and PhD in history from the University of Wisconsin. Pugach has published essays and book reviews on New Mexico Jewish history. Pugach has written studies of nine Jewish families, the most recent being a study of four Alsatian Jewish families who settled in Albuquerque. Pugach served a two-year term as president of the NM Jewish Historical Society. He also presents first-person characterization of Harry Truman and Lew Wallace.

Photo of Mandell Dreyfuss store.

Mandell-Dreyfuss at 300 W. Central Avenue.
(Photo courtesy of Noel Pugach.)