The previous post chronicled the 1906-1917 Gloversville, N.Y., shoe shine careers of Michael and Vincenzo “Jimmy” Del Negro — the brothers of my maternal Italian second great-grandmother Antoinette (Del Negro) Curcio.
I wondered what more I could learn about the Del Negro brothers’ various work locations, which were listed in the Gloversville-Johnstown Business Directories. So I turned once more to Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps for the next phase of their story.
Evolution of a shoe shine parlor
By 1909, he was the proprietor of Mike’s Shoe Shining Parlor at 12 N. Main Street — with a commercial listing under Boot Blacking in the Gloversville-Johnstown City Directory.Gloversville, New York, City Directory, 1909, p. 385. Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line accessed 9 Aug. 2021]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Which made me wonder: what was the evolution of his shoe shining parlor?
The detail above — from an 1897 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of Gloversville — shows that when Uncle Mike arrived in town, a cigar store operated at 12 N. Fulton St., the future premises his shoeshine parlor.
The tiny building labeled “Cigars” was a one-story, wedge-shaped wooden structure (yellow on the map) with a slate/tin roof in a long line of stores near the Kasson Opera House.
Uncle Mike builds his career
On the 1902 Sanborn map of Gloversville, the 12 N. Main St. building still housed a cigar store. However, on the 1907 map (see detail below) “Shoe Shining” was added to “Cigars” at that location — the same address Uncle Mike gave as his place of employment in the 1906 Gloversville-Johnstown Business Directory. The “x” indicates the tiny building then had a shingle roof.
A shoe parlor of his own
Fast forward another five years and the cigar store is gone. The 1912 Sanborn map of Gloversville shows “Boot Black” as the sole business operating from 12 N. Main Street (below) — the address listed as Mike’s Shoe Shining Parlor in the 1909 Gloversville-Johnstown Business Directory.
Not only that, but the neighborhood had improved. A fireproof bank with a clock dome had been constructed at the corner of E. Fulton St. and N. Main St., two doors down from Uncle Mike’s parlor — which undoubtedly added some foot traffic to his shop. And the shoe shine parlor had a black dot, indicating a composite roof.
Alas, the building that housed Uncle Mike’s shoe shine parlor at 12 N. Main St. has not survived — but many of the surrounding buildings have. In the next post, we’ll take a look at the once bustling Gloversville neighborhood that made shoe shining a successful career — including for Uncle Jimmy, who shined shoes at various other locations.
Up next: Modern and vintage photos of the Del Negro brothers’ workplaces. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants. Then visit the September 2021 Genealogy Blog Party: What You Learned to check out the skills genealogy bloggers have shared.
© 2021 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.
|↑1||Gloversville, New York, City Directory, 1909, p. 385. Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line accessed 9 Aug. 2021]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.|