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Early years, 20th century
In 1899, when he was in his 20s, Belarusian immigrant Hyman Mushcot arrived in New York City through Ellis Island, where his surname was shortened and changed to Moscot. He settled down in Manhattan’s Lower East Side neighborhood, and having already worked in the optical business in his home country, he began selling ready-made eyeglasses from a wooden pushcart on Orchard Street. He spoke only Yiddish, and served the many immigrants that poured into the Lower East Side at the turn of the century.
Hyman Moscot in front of the first Moscot shop on 94 Rivington St.
In 1910, Hyman married fellow immigrant Leba. Five years later, with a family rapidly growing, he opened his first retail store at 94 Rivington Street, filling its Windows with signs, posters, and drawings of giant eyes and glasses. (Because of this, some journalists have speculated that the shop, which sat close to the Williamsburg bridge, was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s inspiration for the Doctor T. J. Eckleburg billboard in The Great Gatsby, which the novelist was writing during the same years.)
Sol Moscot sitting in a vintage Ford on Rivington Street in 1934
Hyman and Leba had six children. In 1925, at 15 years old, Hyman’s youngest son, Solomon, nicknamed “Sol,” took over the business, and in 1935, moved the shop to its location at 118 Orchard Street, where it would be located for nearly eight decades. The bright yellow sign with giant, black-rimmed glasses that adorned its storefront became synonymous with the brand, the neighborhood, and downtown New York, and while most of New York's historical businesses fell during the Great Depression, the Moscots made it through the 1930s.
Sol's son, Joel, began presiding over the House of Moscot in 1951. Charming, dedicated, and devoted to his customers, Joel would manage Moscot for over fifty years‚ overseeing the Shop's activities, while conveying the family's values to his sons,
Frame Kacamata Moscot Original
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