Wayfinding: Retail in Alexandria

The 500 block of King Street has long been associated with retail trade in Alexandria. Adam Lynn, Sr., a baker, owned a quarter of the block in the 18th century, and his son, a silversmith, became a major speculator in Alexandria real estate. By the early 1850s, more than thirty Jewish families, most from Germany, had moved to Alexandria.These new immigrants were all involved in the retail trade, selling goods in small shops and emporiums along King Street and its adjacent side streets.

Page updated on Mar 28, 2018 at 3:55 PM

Retail in Alexandria

500 block of King Street

Retail sign sign (click for larger image)The 500 block of King Street has long been associated with retail trade in Alexandria. In the late 18th century, Adam Lynn, Sr. owned the quarter-block at this corner of King and St. Asaph Streets, where he operated a small bake shop selling biscuits and breads. Upon his death in 1786, his holdings passed to his children and, with the cooperation of his sisters, Adam Lynn, Jr. built several homes and “tenements” on the two streets, providing the resources for him to become a major speculator in Alexandria real estate. Lynn earned his income as a silversmith, jeweler, watch and clockmaker, and his remarkable skills as an artisan were surpassed only by his business savvy and risk-taking during the early 1800s. This period was known as the “Era of Good Feelings,” a time when Alexandria’s economy prospered. When the “Panic of 1819” struck, Lynn was hit particularly hard and he ultimately lost all of his properties at public auction. However, Lynn’s dedication to Alexandria never wavered, and he was an important participant in the political, military and religious activities of the City. Despite his setback, he remained a much-loved and respected member of the community until his death in 1835.

Jewish Alexandria

By the early 1850s, more than thirty Jewish families, most from Germany, had moved to Alexandria seeking dignity, freedom and fortune in America. These new immigrants were all involved in the retail trade, selling clothing, shoes, dry goods and scrap in small shops and emporiums along King Street and its adjacent side streets. Within several years of migrating to Alexandria, the close-knit community had formed a Literary Society, Hebrew burial ground and two congregations for worship–one reform, one Orthodox. By 1871, a permanent temple was constructed in the 100 block of North Washington Street, and the newly hired Rabbi began delivering his sermons in English. Temple Beth El served Alexandria’s Jewish community at this location for 84 years. 

Among the many Jews who succeeded in Alexandria was Joseph Hayman (born Hait) and his descendants who maintained a 90-year retail dynasty in the city, starting out with a small variety shop at 118 North Royal Street and ending with Hayman’s legendary store for ladies wear.

Where to find this sign

In Old Town, mini kiosks are located at designated intersections along King Street, Cameron Street, and the Waterfront to provide an orientation for pedestrians. 

This wayfinding sign is located on King at the corner of N. St. Asaph Street. (For those taking the King Street Trolley, please check the schedule as times may have changed.)

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