Soup Kitchen (1831) & Bread Line

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Wed Oct 16 21:57:02 UTC 2002

I will not rest until I remember where I saw the illustration of the breadline.  But I at lesast can confirm from the NYTimes Historical Database that there was one.  The will of Louis Fleischmann, the baker, who left 1,000,000+, provided that "the midnight 'bread line' for the benefit of the poor will be continued by his executors.  (NYTimes, October 4, 1904, p. 9)  An earlier article, Headlined "Free Bread with Gospel" states of the minister involved: On his was to a restaurant he came upon a crowd of working men who were waiting in front of Fleischmann's cafe, in Broadway, for the distribution of bread that is made there to the needy.  (NYTimes, September 16, 1896, p. 8)  The minister had just left his church, which was on MacDougal street, so the cafe was south of 8th street.


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998.

----- Original Message -----
From: "James A. Landau" <JJJRLandau at AOL.COM>
Date: Wednesday, October 16, 2002 4:45 pm
Subject: Re: Soup Kitchen (1831) & Bread Line

> In a message dated 10/16/02 12:46:32 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
> george.thompson at NYU.EDU writes:
> > Last summer you folks were kicking about the expression "bread
> line", and
> > someone cited a late 19th C NYC baker named Fleischmann who gave
> away> day-old bread at midnight to the poor.
> That was me who cited the story.  I believe that rather than
> submitting it as
> a fact, I described it as a legend and asked if anyone knew
> whether it was
> true or was a folk etymology.
> One detail---the bakery named Fleischmann is supposed to have
> become the
> company why today sell's Flesichmann's Yeast.
> It is a story I heard circa 1980 from someone long forgotten, and
> I was
> curious as to whether it were true.  I remember the date because
> the story
> was told me some time before a woman I knew in the early 1980's
> married a man
> named Fleischman.
> I was able to find exactly one reference on the Internet:
> F!ArticleDetail-6717
> 0,00.html
> which in turn quotes from
> Ross Wetzsteon _Republic of Dreams: Greenwich Village: The
> American Bohemia,
> 1910-1960_ New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002, ISBN: 0-684-86995-0
> "in the 1880s, Fleischmann's Model Viennese Bakery on the corner
> of 11th
> Street and Broadway donated its unsold products to the poor at the
> end of
> every day, originating the phrase "bread line." "
> Considering that the quotation contains an improbably long list of
> thingssupposedly invented or orginated in Greenwich Village, I
> don't have good
> vibes as to the accuracy of this particular quote.
> ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
> I've never heard of a "soup-kitchen Protestant" but considering the
> expression "rice Christian"  from the other end of Eurasia I'm not
> inclinedto doubt it.
>      - Jim Landau

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