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“Weirmen ask for the crack- and snag-proof rubber boot, the best make in the world,” the New York Store declared in 1899. Not to say that milady couldn’t find shirtwaists, capes, ribbons and laces. The New York Store had it all. It stayed in business through nine decades and its name endures on the building that housed its flagship. (There was at one time a branch store at 161 Commercial Street.) Just why it was called the New York Store is something of mystery until some knowledgeable reader lets me know.
My working theory is that the department store paralleled the tracks of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad leading down to Railroad Wharf. By the 1890s, when the store was founded, the New Haven line had taken over the Old Colony operation, meaning it was possible (if tortuous) to get from Provincetown to New York City by rail. To a generation that remembered when there was no reliable overland route to the mainland, this must still have been a sensation. It’s also possible that “New York” was meant to evoke big-city sophistication, though I imagine that weirmen — and most everyone else in the Provincetown of the 1890s — would have been immune to such charm.
What is certain is that the New York Store has been identified for almost all of its existence with the Lewis family: Mark and Elizabeth Lewis (d 1941) and their sons Victor M. Lewis (d 1973) and Israel Bernard “Duffy” Lewis (±1900-1982). Indeed, for most of the 20th century, it was called Lewis’ New York Store. Herbert D. Lewis and Muriel Coill established the New York Store Condominium Trust in 1987. Present-day owners also include Alan L. Lewis, Gilbert W. Lewis and Mark E. Lewis. ¶ Updated 2013-10-10