Olives on the Avenue

Dee Bowers

Interior view of Sahadi's store circa 1983 showing wall of grains and olives in bins
Jim Kalett, [Interior of Sahadi Importing Company, Brooklyn, N.Y], c. 1983, black and white photograph, V1992.35.5. Brooklyn Public Library, Center for Brooklyn History.

Today's Photo of the Week takes us to a Brooklyn institution, Sahadi's on Atlantic Avenue. This photograph of bins of olives and grains inside the store taken by Jim Kalett circa 1983 is similar to one published in Brooklyn...and How It Got That Way by David McCullough, for which Kalett was the photographer. The book notes that the western end of Atlantic Avenue became "Brooklyn's commercial Arab district" in the 1940s, when construction in Manhattan, particularly for the Battery Tunnel, forced the relocation of what was then known as Little Syria to other parts of the city. According to the Sahadi's website, the original store was founded by Abraham Sahadi in 1895 after the Sahadi family emigrated from Lebanon to New York. It was mentioned in the New York Times in 1899, which noted its location as the corner of Rector and Washington Streets. In 1948, Abraham's nephew Wade Sahadi moved the business to Brooklyn, where it has been ever since.

Today Sahadi's is thriving not only in its original Atlantic Avenue location, but at a second location in Industry City as well, as reported in another recent New York Times article. It is still run by the Sahadi family: Wade's son Charles took over in 1967, and his children Ron and Christine are the current proprieters. Charles Sahadi was interviewed in 2016 as part of the Voices of Brooklyn oral history project. You can listen to the interview through our oral history portal.

Interested in seeing more photos from CBH’s collections? Visit our online image gallery, which includes a selection of our images, or the digital collections portal at Brooklyn Public Library. We look forward to inviting you to CBH in the future to research our entire collection of images, archives, maps, and special collections. In the meantime, please visit our resources page to search our collections. Questions? Our reference staff is available to help with your research! You can reach us at cbhreference@bklynlibrary.org.


This blog post reflects the opinions of the author and does not necessarily represent the views of Brooklyn Public Library.


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