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Louis Bamberger, date unknown
15 May 1855|
|Died||11 March 1944(aged 88)|
Louis Bamberger (15 May 1855 – 11 March 1944) was Newark, New Jersey's leading citizen from the early 1900s until his death in 1944. He is noted for co-founding (with his sister Caroline Bamberger Fuld) the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. He was a businessman and philanthropist and at his death all flags in Newark were flown at half-staff for three days, and his large department store closed for a day.
He came to Newark in 1892 and bought at auction a failing general goods store on Market Street, renaming it L. Bamberger & Company. The store was an immediate success, and Bamberger was able to open an ornate chateauesque building in 1912 that covered a whole city block. For decades, Bamberger’s clock was the downtown meeting place for Newarkers. In 1928, the store's sales were $28 million (equivalent to $391 million in 2016), making it the fourth highest grossing store in the United States.
In 1929, Bamberger sold his department store to R.H. Macy and Company, who kept the original Bamberger name. Bamberger knew that he owed his success to hundreds of able employees, and split $1 million among 240 employees. The Bamberger name remained in use for the stores in the New Jersey division of Macy's until 1986.
Bamberger supported both secular and Jewish charities. Bamberger personally funded the buildings for Newark’s YMHA, the Newark Museum, and the New Jersey Historical Society. During the Third Reich he worked to help persecuted Jews escape from Germany. Bamberger was also a major contributor to the Community Chest and Beth Israel Hospital. His largest donation was not to a Newark charity though. In 1930 Bamberger and his sister gave $5 million to fund the Institute for Advanced Study. Bamberger's sister, Caroline Bamberger Fuld, also gave Newark money for the cherry trees in Branch Brook Park.
- Louis Bamberger: Department Store Innovator and Philanthropist by Linda B. Forgosh, 2016, Brandeis University Press/University Press of New England
Bamberger was a shy man who never married. He would accept honorary presidencies of charitable organizations and let his name be known, but he did not use his largesse to make himself more famous. He was always reluctant to speak in public.
- William Starr Myers, Prominent Families of New Jersey in Two Volumes, vol. 1, pp. 46–47.
- Nat Bodian, The Legendary Philanthropies of Newark's Louis Bamberger, Old Newark Web Group