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Roeber's Cafe: 1908

Roeber's Cafe: 1908

On the left, champion wrestler and vaudeville impresario Ernst Roeber (1861-1944) and his Manhattan saloon at 499 Sixth Avenue around Easter 1908. 8x10 glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection. View full size. Roeber (aka Ernest or Ernie) also operated a cafe in the Ridgewood section of Brooklyn.


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It was a dank and rainy day.

Everybody is at home having dinner with their family and nobody is out drinkin', even the "Floppy Joes" are staying away today. The shoeshine boy has already thrown in the towel and has gone home, empty handed, to his mother. Roeber, in a mood as black as the day, ponders going next door and making a long distance telephone call to wish his mother a Happy Easter. Jingling his pocket change, he grumbles to Patty, his bartender, that it's gonna be a long night if they get more rain. Meanwhile the bouncer, Gill "The Butcher" Fendley, has just told a loitering tramp to hit the road, who having dealt with "The Butcher" before, does in a blur of motion. Yep, it's gonna be a long night.

Moerlein Beer

I'm related to Christian Moerlein, the brewer. Do you have any more images, like these, that include the Moerlein name? The Moerleins recently had a family reunion in Cincinnati, which my immediate family attended. I'm going to send this link to all of them, and we'll be ordering some of these prints very soon.

Please let me know if you have any other Moerlein images. Thanks!

[As far as I know, this is it. Cheers! - Dave]

Ice, Coal and Wood

"Did people really buy coal and wood at shops like this?"

I would imagine that the "shop" was really a company office where you would order deliveries of ice (for your ice box) wood (for cooking?) and coal (for heating).

Ice, Coal, and Wood

Did people really buy coal and wood at shops like this? It was for heating, right?

Also I love the sign that reads "SIGN"

L'excommunication de Robert le Pieux (1875)

This a painting by Jean-Paul Lauren (1838-1921), now at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.

Wikipedia article.

Anyway... this is one of the greatest photos of this site!

Cut rate vaudeville, beer,

Cut rate vaudeville, beer, wine, whiskey, palmists, massage... It all looks pretty decadent to me!


Speaking of spiritual imagery. What's with the ghostly figure on the right side? Was that person simply moving as the picture was taken?

Robert the Pious

Actually The Excommunication Of King Robert the Pious is a painting, not a newspaper headline.

[Seems to be a little of each. - Dave]


And a closer look at this photograph shows the wrap-around metal banner proclaiming “Moerlein’s Celebrated Cincinnati Lager Beer.” Being originally from Cincinnati, and having never heard of this brand, I did a Google search and discovered that the Hudepohl Brewing Company now owns the Moerlein brand and apparently produces and sells it today. Hudepohl beer (and its lighter companion Schoenling beer) are well-known Cincinnati brands and were my brews of choice when younger, particularly when watching the Cincinnati Reds at old Crosley Field.

What an amazing photograph

This is one of those photographs that just keep on giving. What wonderful detail!! Thanks for putting it on the site.

Don Hall
Yreka, CA

Not So Subliminal Religious Messages

This photo is rife with spiritual imagery. First there is the obvious star of David under the big "Ernst Roeber" sign. Less obvious is the fortune teller that dwells within Joe's Theatre. Finally, there's the newspaper headline, "Excommunication Of King Robert The Pious."

[Maybe not all that spiritual. The star was the logo for the Ehret's Beer Hell Gate Brewery, at one time the largest in the country. George Ehret was from Germany, where the hexagram or Bierstern (beer star) is a symbol of the brewers' guild. - Dave]

Roeber Arrested!

Thanks to the NY Times opening up their archive, there's an article that mentions the address in a brief article on Roeber being arrested for disorderly conduct at his cafe. The address is given as 499 Sixth Avenue, which is the number in the photo.

[Thanks Wayne! I added that to the caption. - Dave]

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