05 April 2012

The Faded Ad Wall on West 36th: Sam Landorf & Co.

Sam Landorf & Co. is the ad most erased by time on the hanging gardens of faded advertising that is the westerly wall of 64-70 W. 36th Street. You can barely see the "Sam" and the stuff beneath it is almost impossible to read. It says "creator of infants and children's dresses," I think. I wonder by Landorf's paint job faded so much more than his neighbors'. Shoddy paint? Excess exposure to sunlight and rain?

Landorf was a resident of this building for a shorter period of time than any of the other businesses featured in these ads. He moved in 1950 and moved out 1956, decamping to 34th Street. The concern was founded by Sam Landorf, who spent his whole life in the garment trade. Sam was born on the Lower East Side and went to work at the age of 13. The company was founded in 1949. Sam had spent many years at the Joseph Love & Co. before striking out on his own.

Landorf was a quick success. In the 1950s, he produced a line of girls' frocks called "Cinderella" and another called "Youngland." In 1954, the New York Times said Landorf had "pushed the Youngland Dress trade-mark close to the top in the short space of five years." Landorf sold $8 million in goods in 1954. He had nine factories in New York, Pennsylvania and Texas. The Youngland dresses were very safe and traditional, but made more of a fashion statement than had previously been the case with mid-priced girls frocks. Landorf was still advertising Youngblood in New York magazine in the early '80s. The ad said its children's dresses were carried at Macy's.

Here's a sample of a Youngland dress:

Sam had two sons: Howard (who was married at the Waldorf=Astoria) and Floyd (who was married at the Plaza). Floyd had a daughter, Carol, who also went into the garment business. This family was big on placing wedding and birth announcements in the Times. But then, they had more than enough money to buy space in the Paper of Record.

Sam Landorf died on Jan. 8, 1963, of a coronary thrombosis while on a vacation cruise with his wife Lillian. I know so much about Sam's death because his family was the subject of a 1969 U.S. Claims Court case. Something about capital gains and an insurance policy, as I gather. The company lasted until the 1990s.

No comments: