Solomon Lazard: Major Jewish Pioneer of Early Los Angles’ Infrastructure

Solomon Lazard

Values Codes I – H – E – L – P

 

Solomon Lazard was born in 1826 in Fromberg, Alsace-Lorraine, France.

He was a cousin to the owners of Lazard Freres, then a leading import-export house and today a French banking giant.

 

Along the way . . . .

Solomon Lazard arrived in New York in 1844, where he was employed as a clerk at Lazard-Freres before being sent to their branch in New Orleans.

In 1848, Lazard left New Orleans for California by way of the Isthmus of Panama, traveling across Lake Nicaragaua, down to the Pacific, and then up to Yorba Buena (now San Francisco) on a steamer.

After working at branches of Lazard Freres in San Francisco, San Jose, and Stockton, Solomon Lazard purchased a stock of goods intending to open his own store in San Diego.

The captain of the ship on which he was heading south suggested that he settle in the little town of Los Angeles.

Los Angeles

Solomon Lazard’s first Los Angeles store was in Bell’s Row in 1851.

He soon partnered with his cousin, Maurice Kremer.

Because of their good reputation, Lazard & Kremer faced a problem, soon to be followed by many Jewish merchant’s throughout the West: Customers wanted to leave their extra gold and silver with a Jewish merchant for safekeeping!

Solomon Lazard’s store at Bell’s Row.

S. Lazard & Co. had a large new brick store built in 1866 on Main Street, which eventually became known as The City of Paris after Lazard retired in 1873 and turned the company over to his cousin, Eugene Meyer.

City of Paris store, Los Angeles, CA [1890’s] on Spring near Temple, #WS1007

Civic

In 1852, Solomon Lazard became a citizen of the United States.

Lazard was a Third Lieutenant in the Los Angeles Guards in 1853-1857.

In 1853, Lazard was elected to be a delegate to the County Convention of the Democratic Party.

He was elected to the Los Angeles City Council 1n 1854.

In 1858, he was appointed Inspector of Elections.

He also served on the Committee on Police, Committee on Streets, and Committee of Lands.

He was a member of the first Library Association and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Chamber of Commerce.

DWP Main Offices Today

DWP Main Offices Today

In 1869, Lazard, along with John S. Griffen and Prudence Beaudy, took over the failing existing civic water company and received a 30-year lease from the City of Los Angeles.

Lazard was President of the company.

The company developed a major water supply system using iron pipes, most of which are still functioning today.

After 30 years, the City of Los Angeles bought back the lease of the water company, and it evolved into the current Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

Most of the money Lazard received from the sale of the water company was invested in the firm of Brownstein & Louis, a Los Angeles apparel company that is best known for its invention of the sport shirt.

Prudence Beaudry, Solomon Lazard & Michael Levy as owners of the Los Angeles Water Co., late in their 30-year lease

Community

When the Hebrew Benevolent Society, first charitable organization in Los Angeles was chartered in 1854,Lazard was first a trustee and soon afterwards its president.

He was an active member throughout his life in the affairs of Congregation B’nai B’rith (today’s Wilshire Boulevard Temple).

 

Fraternal

Lazard was a member of the Los Angeles Social Club, the Odd Fellows, and a charter member of the Pioneers Society.

Family

Solomon Lazard residence on Westlake Avenue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The wedding of Solomon Lazard and Caroline Newmark in 1865 was considered the social event of the year.

The bride’s father, Joseph Newmark, performed the ceremony.

Together, Solomon and Caroline had ten children, six of whom grew to maturity.

Lazard retired from business in 1873.

He died in 1916 and is buried at the Home of Peace Cemetery in Los Angeles

Sources

  • Francine Landau, “Solomon Lazard of Los Angeles,” Western States Jewish Historical Quarterly 5/3.
  • Francine Landau, “Solomon Lazard: Major Pioneer of the Infrastructure of Los Angeles, 1826-1916,” Western States Jewish History 38 3&4.
  • “Solomon Lazard’s American Citizenship,” Western States Jewish History 16/1.
  • Norton B. Stern, “Notes on Solomon Lazard (1826-1916),” Western States Jewish History 41/3.
  • William M. Kramer, “In Praise of Lazard, Los Angeles, 1874,” Western States Jewish History 42/2-3.

Max Lazard family portrait, Solomon Lazard in middle right.