About Solomon Lazard
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 major French banking giant. Solomon 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, Solomon Lazard left New Orleans for California by way of the Isthmus of Panama, traveling across Lake Nicaragaua, down to the 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 purchased a stock of goods intending to open his own store in San Diego, but the captain of the ship on which he was heading south suggested that he settle in the little town of 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 high reputation, Lazard & Kremer faced the problem, soon to be followed by many Jewish merchant’s throughout the West. Customers wanted to leave their extra gold and silver with them for safekeeping! 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 Eugene Meyer.
In 1852 Solomon Lazard became a citizen of the United States. Lazard was a third lieutenant in the Los Angeles Guards in 1853-1857 When the first charitable organization in Los Angeles was chartered in 1854, the Hebrew Benevolent Society, Solomon 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, currently known as Wilshire Boulevard Temple. 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. Lazard was a member of the Los Angeles Social Club, the Odd Fellows, and a charter member of the Pioneers Society. He was a member of the first Library Association and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Chamber of Commerce.
In 1869 Solomon Lazard, along with John S. Griffen and Prudence Beaudy took over the failing existing water company and received a 30 year lease from the City of Los Angeles. Soloman Lazard was President of the company. During the next 30 years the company developed a major water supply system, using iron pipes, much of which is 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.
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. Caroline and Solomon had ten children, six of whom grew to maturity.
Lazard retired from business in 1873. Solomon Lazard died in 1916 and is buried at the Home of Peace Cemetery in Los Angeles
More information can be found in the following issues of Western States Jewish History:
- Lazard, Solomon; Solomon Lazard of Los Angeles; Los Angeles; Landau, Francine; 5/3
- Lazard, Solomon. Solomon Lazard: Major Pioneer of the Infrastructure of Los Angeles, 1826-1916. Francine Landau.; 38 3&4.
- Lazard, Solomon; Solomon Lazard’s American Citizenship; Los Angeles; 16/1
- Lazard; Solomon; Notes; LA; 1968; Norton Stern; 41/3
- Lazard, Solomon; In Praise of Lazard; LA; 1874; Rabbi William M. Kramer; 42/2-3