Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — East Federal Street

East Federal Street

East Federal Street, probably some time in the 1940’s or early 50’s. Stambaugh Building and Realty Building are in the foreground. Photo source unknown.

One of the things that I’ve discovered is that there is a real gap in my memories of Youngstown east of Central Square. For a short time in the 1960’s my father worked at Haber’s Furniture at 200 East Federal and as a kid, I went to the YMCA on North Champion every Saturday for a couple years. I honestly have a hard time remembering much else. I remember the Stambaugh and Realty Buildings opposite each other just east of the square. Most of my memories of downtown, particularly because I worked at McKelvey’s during high school and college, were west of the square. I went to an orthodontist in Central Tower and remember stores like Strouss,’ Lustig’s, Reicharts, Fanny Farmers, Stambaugh-Thompson’s, Record Rendezvous, and of course, the Home Savings Building.

89.119 B1aF325 N. View from Walnut and Federal Streets looking W

East Federal Street in the 1960’s. Photo from Mahoning Valley Historical Society archives.

Looking at old photographs of East Federal Street, I am amazed at the sheer number of stores and businesses, many with awning fronts, that lined East Federal from the 1940’s to the 1960’s. In one photo, I can make out Rocky’s Tavern, Castle Jewelers, East Federal Furniture Company, Factory Shoe Store, Lewis Apparel on Credit, Volunteers of America Opportunity Store, Fishers Dry Goods, and a partially obscured sign for Modern…. Another has signs for the Bargain Store, Marlane, The Atlas Grille, and Downtown Tile Center. Others have signs for Nick’s Shoe Repair, a camera and jewelry store, Leonard’s Clothes Shop, Best Cleaners, Philco/Royal TV Service, the Regent Theater, LeCar Furniture Store, an Army-Navy store, and a Sherwin-Williams paint and wallpaper store. All of these can be seen in a Homeplate TV/MetroMonthly video of East Federal Street in the 1960’s. At one time Rulli Brothers had two stores on East Federal, at 345 and at 21. Eventually the consolidated to the 21 E. Federal location.

I noticed two things from the pictures. One was that this was usually a busy place, cars lining the streets and a number of people on the sidewalks. The other was that the names suggested that these stores may have served a more economically-challenged part of Youngstown than the stores on the other side of Central Square. Bargain stores, stores offering apparel on credit, repair shops for shoes and appliances probably served those who lived paycheck to paycheck.

All these old storefronts are gone. The Realty and Stambaugh Buildings remain (the latter now a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel) as does the Haber Building now owned by Ohio One with an additional story. East Gateway Community College now occupies the block between South Champion and South Walnut. The YMCA is still on North Champion. But the cityscape has totally changed.

The gap in my own memories of East Federal seems to be matched with a lack of information in books I have or online articles apart from a few videos. I’d love to hear from others who have memories of downtown east of Central Square. It’s plain to me that downtown wasn’t just on West Federal back then. I’d like to know more about what I missed.

 

 

8 thoughts on “Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — East Federal Street

  1. There was the Central Store and a pet shop, we didn’t shop at the end too often, but, I liked to see the chicks in the window.

  2. Had to be in late 1950s and i went to east federal street with my grandfather to a butcher shop where they slaughtered live chickens. Dont think i a making that up.

  3. Hi Bob–my first job out of high school was in the Leedy Building on East Federal as a stenographer at the Mahoning County Welfare Department. There was the Central Store on the same side of the street and I stopped at the Brass Rail for my morning coffee (always busy). Around the corner was Moore’s Tavern where we went for lunch especially on Fridays–always crowded with the legal crowd. Great food there. Samuel’s Jewelry Store there and later a pizza shop where you could just get a slice. There were markets across the street where you could get stuff to make a salad. At one time my mother and I would go down further to the Far East Restaurant where you went up the stairs to get a great Chinese dinner. It was dingy but delish! During steel strikes people would be lining the street to head up to the MCWD for food stamps. My aunt took me to the Central Store to pick out my prom dress which I put in layaway and paid for with my baby sitting money. There was also an A & P Grocery Store. My grandmother would walk to town when she saw a bargain there. Some of my memories–it was a long time ago–1956.

  4. I forget the addresses…but the Salvation Army had a building on E. Federal as did Wilkerson’s Drug Store. The Youngstown Paint and Glass Co. had a since and warehouse from 1904 until 1969 next to the Salvation Army. It moved to Mahoning Avenue. The Warehouse was removed for the extension of Commerce Street (?) in the mid 60’s. I worked at the Paint Glass and walked to YSU, 66-70.

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