Solomon Lazard, also known as S. Lazard, (1827–1916) was an entrepreneur in 19th century Los Angeles, California, a member of the city council there in 1854 and in 1861–62 and, some say, the founder of the international banking firm Lazard Frères and Company.
Lazard was born in Lorraine, France on April 5, 1827. He married Carrie or Carolyn Newmark, the daughter of Joseph Newmark, on July 5, 1865. They had three boys and three girls, including sons E.M. Lazard and Sylvan A. Lazard and daughters who married Louis Levin and A. Jacoby.
Lazard arrived in the United States in 1844 or 1850 and became a U.S. citizen about 1853, but In 1861 he visited France and was arrested on the charge that he still owed military duty to that country, where he had been born. He served six days in prison and then hired a substitute to take his place.
Lazard died on January 13, 1916, leaving his wife, two sons and a daughter. A funeral service was held in the family home at 657 Westlake Avenue in the Echo Park district, with interment following at Home of Peace Cemetery (East Los Angeles).
Lazard sailed from Europe to New York City in 1844, and then to San Francisco in 1851. He remained there about a year until he went to San Diego, where he intended to engage in the dry goods business. but, finding the town too small for his success, he set up shop in Los Angeles instead, on Aliso Street, a main road to and from such places as San Gabriel, El Monte and San Bernardino. He and a cousin, Maurice Kremer, were partners in the business in a row of shops called Mellus Row, later called the Bell Block, or Bell's Row, on the southeast corner of Los Angeles Street, until Kremer sold his share to Timoteo Wolfskill. In 1867 Lazard moved the business to 53 Main Street, where he named the store as The City of Paris. This was where elegant Los Angeles women sought the latest thing in French fashion. Lazard sold the company in 1874 to Eugene Meyer & Co.
In 1868, the City Council relinquished its rights to the water in the Los Angeles River in favor of businessmen Lazard, John S. Griffen and Prudent Beaudry, and the three created the Los Angeles City Water Company. The contract lapsed in 1898.
Although the international banking firm of Lazard Frères and Company has stated it was founded in 1848 by three brothers in New Orleans, Louisiana, and later moved to San Francisco, other sources give the following story:
As there was no bank in Los Angeles in the mid-19th Century, the residents either kept their money at home or confided it to the Catholic nuns in a convent at Alameda Street and Macy Street. When Solomon's brother Eugène Isaac Meyer joined him in Los Angeles in 1859, Solomon followed the example of his brothers who were directing financial houses in Paris and Strasbourg: He opened a deposit window in his store under the name of Lazard et Frères, "a private banking firm that still exists, with branches around the world."
Still another version:
A famed international banking firm grew out of a homely adobe store which bore the sign, "Lazard Frères," and which resulted from the arrival in 1859 of A. Lazard to join his brother, S. Lazard, who, with a cousin, Maurice Kremer, had become a popular merchant in Los Angeles.
When Los Angeles suffered a smallpox epidemic in 1863, the Hebrew Benevolent Society's Committee on Charity, headed by Solomon Lazard, allotted $150 of the society's funds for the relief of the indigent sick and assumed the responsibility of collecting and distributing additional funds to aid the impoverished victims, many of them Mexicans or Indians.
References and notes
- Consulate general of France, French text based on Guide français de Los Angeles et du Sud de la Californie, F. Loyer and C. Beaudreau (1932), and 1872 Los Angeles City and County Directory
- Jacqueline Cardinal and Laurent LaPierre, "Katharine Graham et le Washington Post," Revue internationale de la gestion, February 2012
- F. Loyer and C. Beaudreau
- His funeral notice in the Los Angeles Times said he was born in "Fromberg, France."
- "The Early Jewish Presence in Los Angeles," Jewish Genealogical Society of Los Angeles
- "Lazard and Lewin" genealogical chart
- An Illustrated History of Los Angeles County, California, Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company (1889), page 534, transcribed by Kathy Sedler at ancestry.com
- "Death Ends Old Family," Los Angeles Times, November 24, 1920, page II-6
- "Sixty-Five Years Here," Los Angeles Times, January 14, 1916, page II-1
- Donald H. Harrison, "Western States Jewish History," April 29, 2006
-  Location of the Lazard home on Mapping L.A.
- "Pioneer Laid to Rest," Los Angeles Times, January 17, 1916, page I-8
- "In 1853 there were three large dry goods houses in Los Angeles and about a dozen smaller general stores. . . . Solomon Lazard and his cousin, Maurice Kremer, both from Lorraine, appeared among the shopkeepers that year." Loyer and Beadreau, page 33.
- Francis Dinkelspiel, "A Hard Rain," Jewish Journal, March 31, 2005
- Loyer and Beaudreau, page 53
- Kahrl 1982, p. 12.
- Lazard website
- William D. Cohan, in The Last Tycoons, Doubleday (2007), states that "The story of the firm's humble origins in a dry goods store in New Orleans in 1848 has been buffed to such a high gloss it is no longer possible to determine if the tale is true" (pages 17–18).
- Meyer was to become the grandfather of Katharine Graham of the Washington Post.
- Fernand Loyer and Charles Beaudreau, Le Guide français de Los Angeles et du Sud de la Californie (English edition) (1932), page 37
- Harris Newmark, "Sixty Years in Southern California, 1853–1913, Knickerbocker Press (1926), page 449
- Los Angeles Almanac
- Reva Clar, Los Angeles Jewry — A Chronology," 2002
- Kahrl, William L. (1982). Water and Power: The Conflict over Los Angeles’ Water Supply in the Owens Valley. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-04431-2.
- Los Angeles v. Los Angeles City Water Co. 177 U.S. 558 (1900)