Program Recap: At Lunch with Julie Satow

June 27, 2024
by Rebeca Miller

This program originally aired on June 26th at 12:30pm Eastern.

Julie Salamon (New York Times bestselling author) sits down with Julie Satow, award-winning journalist and author of the New York Times bestseller, When Women Ran Fifth Avenue. The book dives into the height of the department store era and the women who ran them.

Department stores were socially acceptable spaces for women to publicly socialize without men, but also work and advance. In addition to shopping, the stores contained beauty parlors, childcare centers, and cafes. For those who were looking for careers, the stores provided job training, employee cafeterias, and paid vacation. Women could work up from dust girl, being paid a few dollars a week, to a buyer managing huge staffs and budgets with yearly trips to Paris. The book follows three female department store presidents: Hortense Odlum; the first female president of Bonwit Teller starting in 1934, Dorothy Shaver; president of Lord and Taylor starting in 1945, who is listed as having the highest published salary of a woman at that time, and Geraldine Stutz; president of Henri Bendel for 29 years starting in 1957.

Julie’s book highlights other amazing women such as Beatrice Fox Auerbach, Jewish president and director of G. Fox & Co, who took over the business from her father after he passed and ran it successfully throughout the depression without any employee layoffs. I. Magnin in San Francisco was founded by the daughter of a rabbi and named after her husband, Isaac Magnin. Lena Himmelstein, a Jewish immigrant woman founded Lane Bryant.

Topics covered in this program: Ladies Mile, shopping, New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, history of women in work, the history of the department store, history of the mannequin, research, genealogy.