Attman’s Delicatessen at 1019-1023 E. Lombard Street is one of just a few delis the remain at the heart of the old Lombard Street market that once stretched from Albemarle Street to Central Avenue. Imagine New York’s famed Lower East Side, minus the tenements. Here, Russian immigrants became fish sellers offering fresh carp in white-tiled pools; poultry dealers selling live chickens, ducks, and geese from wooden cages; bakers and grocers; dry goods merchants, and shochets (a slaughterer who follows Jewish religious laws when killing animals).
Food has a long history at 1019 E. Lombard Street. After starting their business on Baltimore Street in 1915, Harry and Ida Attman purchased this building in the early 1930s. They bought it from Nathan and Elsie Weinstein, whose grocery business also dated back to 1915. Before that, around 1910, Russian-born Joseph Lusser sold fish and poultry here. His family shared the house with two other Russian Jewish families.
The opposite side of Lombard Street was occupied from the 1930s through the 1970s by the well-known Tulkoff’s horseradish plant, now located in Dundalk. Another local fixture, David Yankelove, sold chickens on the north side of the street until the 1980s. David’s father, Louis, had been a butcher here beginning in the early 1900s.
The next row down from Attman’s at 1005-1011 E. Lombard is an early block of houses with steeply pitched roofs that suggest they were built before the Civil War. The deep-back buildings are later additions, constructed to accommodate immigrant families in search of affordable housing. These houses speak volumes about commercial life on the turn-of-the century Lombard Street. From the 1910 census, we learn that 1105 housed a grocer, 1007 was an Italian-owned fruit store, 1009 featured a butter and egg business, and 1011 was a poultry dealer.
The empty space to the right of Attman’s was formerly Smelkinson’s Dairy. During the Riots of 1968 following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., Smelkinson’s burned to the ground. However, most of Lombard Street survived the riots with little damage and the street remained vital until the late 1970s, when a combination of inner city decline and the rise of the suburban shopping mall caused its small family businesses to close.