7. Ridley and Sons Department Store

315 Grand Street
Ridley and Sons Department Store exterior shot.

The story of Ridley’s begins with its founder, Edward Ridley, an English immigrant who founded a millenary and dry goods store in 1849. By 1883, Ridley had acquired the necessary funding to convert a series of buildings on the Lower East Side. However, upon his unexpected death, operations were taken over by his sons Arthur and Edward, who commissioned a building that spanned from Allen Street to Orchard Street on Grand Street, which at the time had been a bustling shopping district.

With five stories and copious window and store space, Ridley and Sons Department Store became the largest store on the Lower East Side and one of the largest in New York City. At its peak in the late 1880s, the store employed more than 2,500 individuals, most of them young immigrant women from the neighborhood. Ridley’s would be operated by Edward’s sons until 1901 when the business was sold to different organizations due to declining sales. Today, Ridley’s building is now painted pink and is home to the clothing store, Jodamo International Ltd.