Thursday, May 17, 2018

Barbers of Schenectady

Something that surprised us recently, there were over 100 barbers in 1925 Schenectady. Men would frequent barbershops weekly, sometimes daily to get a shave. Barbers in Schenectady got up close and personal with some of the most prominent people in Schenectady and in some cases, formed close friendships. The popularity of barbershops declined throughout the 1960s (with longer hair being popular) and into the early-2000s. With beards and more complex haircuts being more fashionable, there has been an increase in the popularity of barber shops throughout the U.S.

The list of barbershops in the 1925 Schenectady Directory. Note that the Wedgeway Barber Shop is still in business and is one of Schenectady's longest running businesses. It was established in April 1912 in The Wedgeway Building at the corner of State and Erie and tonsorial artistry is still practiced in the same room. In a letter to Larry Hart, owner Richard DiCristofaro wrote that "many civic leaders, judges, attorneys, clerks, and notable business persons" used their services.

The interior of Schmidt's Barber Shop shows customers getting a quick cut and shave. This photo is undated, but August Schmidt's shop was listed in city directories as early as 1881 and possibly even earlier. Courtesy of the Grems-Doolittle Library Photo Collection.
In addition to running a barber shop, August Schmidt also dealt thoroughbred canaries. 
Luxury Barber Shop at 104 Clinton caught on to the hair bobbing craze of the flappers. Courtesy of the Grems-Doolittle Library Photo Collection.
Speaking of bobs, the NRA (National Recovery Administration, not the National Rifle Association) set the prices for hairdressing. Courtesy of
The Carley House was built by Andrew Devendorf on the corner of Broadway and State. It would eventually become the Hotel Vendome. William Young's barber shop, complete with barber pole, can be seen on the left side of the building. 

A nice interior shot of Tilly's Barber Shop lit by GE Mazda Lamps. Attilio Mengarelli was known as "Tilly" to friends and customers. Tilly's started out in 1905 in the Mohawk Hotel & Baths on Broadway. He moved his shop to the newly built railroad arcade in 1909 when Union Station was built. Tilly's had the most modern equipment and GE Mazda lights. 
An ad introducing barbers Edward Tario and Henry Froehlig as partners in Tilly's. Henry would go on to take ownership of  Tilly's in 1922. 
An action shot of a barber on South Ferry Street, possibly at John Friday's barber shop.