Bruckner Bros, 408 to 412 E 161st St, New York

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The NYC Copartnership and Corporation Directories listed the Bruckner Brothers as John A and Henry Bruckner. The business bottled mineral water and soda. Henry was also a prominent Bronx politician serving as an Assemblyman in 1901, Commissioner of Public Works from 1902 to 1912, a Congressman from 1913 to 1917 and Bronx Borough President from 1918 to 1933. Bruckner Boulevard and the Bruckner Expressway were named after him.

An early Bruckner Bros bottle listed on the Internet is embossed “Successors to Stephen Garland.” Garland was listed as waters in the Directories between 1875 and 1892. He was located at East 163rd Street near 3rd Avenue through the mid 1880’s, and at Elton Avenue and E 162nd Street until 1892. Bruckner Bros was first listed in the 1894 NYC Directory in the same neighborhood at 668 East 161st Street so they must have purchased and moved the business sometime in 1892 or 1893.

Sometime between 1906 and 1908 they moved to 408 East 161st Street and continued to be listed at that address throughout National Prohibition. In the 1940’s they were still located there but had changed their name to Bruckner Beverages. Henry Bruckner died in 1942 but the business survived through most of the 1950’s. In 1957 they were listed at 450 Thompson Place.

The “American Bottler” contained the following story of a robbery that occurred at the business in July, 1917. The story gives a little insight into Henry Bruckner’s sense of humor.

The Uses of Adversity

Sweet are the uses of adversity. Sometime during the night of July 28th last, burglars forced an entrance to the soda water plant of Bruckner Bros., at 412 East 161st Street, New York City, and blew a large safe in the office on the second floor, securing $1,000 in cash and a number of checks. They then went to the private office of Congressman Henry Bruckner and blew the safe there, securing a number of checks.

Turning his misfortune to advertising account Mr Bruckner immediately furnished the local newspapers with the following copy.

Burglars recently robbed the safe in the establishment of Bruckner Bros. The cracksman drank several bottles of ginger ale before departing. It must be good. Try it. Sold by first class grocers, delicatessen dealers and confectioners in the Bronx.

U-NO-US

Henry Bruckner, Sole Proprietor

Interestingly, Henry listed himself as sole proprietor in the above story but two years later, the 1919 Copartnership and Corporation Directory continued to list both Henry and John as principals. The 1925 NYC Directory listed the business as Bruckner Bros., but only named Henry Bruckner. I guess it’s safe to say that John left the business at some point during this period.

In 1921 they registered the U-NO-US slogan as a trademark (No.148198; Published Date Sept. 27, 1921) although they claimed to have been using it since 1896. They describe the product as non-alchohlic, non-cereal maltless beverages sold as soft drinks. This was their big seller during the prohibition years. I’ve seen bottles listed on the Internet with “U-NO-US”embossed in large letters below the shoulder and the company name and address in smaller letters near the base.

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408 to 412 East 161st Street is located in the Morrisania section of the Bronx, about 10 blocks east of Yankee Stadium. The former addresses are now encompassed by a new apartment building that takes up the west end of the block on the south side.

The bottle I found is a 28-ounce, machine made crown. It has the 408 to 412 address embossed on it but does not have the U-NO-US trademark. They were using this trademark as early as 1916 and it apparently was popular during Prohibition. This leads me to believe the bottle was made before the trademark really caught on; say sometime between 1915 and 1920. It was found with the porcelan stopper still in place but no wire bail.

Bajorath, Long Island City

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Charles Bajorath appears to have been a small-scale bottler of lager beer that worked out of his residence. According to the 1910 census records he immigrated to the U.S. in 1886 but the first mention of him in the NYC Directory was in 1892 as a bottler with just a home listing at 428 E 92nd Street. Subsequently, he was listed sporadically (1903 Trow Business Directory and 1909 City Directory are the only listings I could find) as a beer bottler at 1735 Second Avenue.

In 1910 he moved to 461 Washington Avenue in Long Island City. The 1910 Census Records indicated that he had a beer bottling business that he ran out of his house and the 1912 Queens Business Directory listed him as a bottler of lager beer at the Washington Avenue address. In addition, the Annual Report of the State Commission of Excise listed him as a liquor tax certificate holder for the years 1911 and 1913. He was listed in the 1920 Census Records (name spelled incorrectly) but at this point he’s in his 70’s and did not list a business or occupation.

Washington Avenue was later renamed 36th Avenue in Long Island City. I can’t relate the No. 461 to any specific block.

The bottle I found is a brown champagne style bottle. It has “L. I. City” embossed on it, dating it to after his move to Long Island City in 1910. Interestingly it is machine made but has a blob finish (almost all machine made beer bottles that I’ve found have a crown finish).