According to his obituary in the New York Times, 13 April 1955, p. 29, Alexander Samuel Beck "founder of the A. S. Beck shoe company ... emigrated to this country in 1888 from his native Hungary. He opened a butcher shop and a general store in Duquesne, Pa. In 1909, in partnership with a brother, Samuel, he set up a retail shoe store at 363 Fulton Street, Brooklyn. The partnership was dissolved in 1914. Mr. Beck opened a retail shoe store then at 845 Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint. Six years later he owned a chain of thirteen shoe stores here, which he sold to the Diamond Shoe Corporation for $1,000,000. In 1945 the enlarged business was sold to Saul Schiff and his associates, the present owners. The chain is composed of 147 stores in sixty cities in the East, South and Midwest. Mr. Beck retired from business fifteen years ago and moved to California. He had devoted his later activities to real estate and film theatres. He was a Mason."
An earlier A. S. Beck on 34th St. was located a few doors west at 138 W. 34th. This ad from the Manhattan White Pages, Nov. 1930, shows this address. The first Beck store at 128 W. 34th came in 1936. The store facade above probably dates from 1936. This ad from 1939 shows the new address. It also shows the price reduction for Depression era business. This ad from 1942 reflects war-time business when prices need not be shown.
Beck shoe stores proliferated in New York in the 1930s. There were 18 branch stores listed in the Manhattan telephone directory in 1932. But they had faded dramatically by the 1970s. There were only 5 in the 1972 directory. This store at 128 W. 34th St. was the last survivor of the chain in Manhattan. It closed in 1982.
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