Albert Flesch left his native Hungary to come to Chicago alone when he was 13. Albert carried not only much of his family’s hopes, but he also carried a small red diary with him on the trip. In his diary, he tells of buying a new winter coat and visiting relatives on the day of his departure. He describes the life on board ship and his arrival in Chicago, where he went to live with an uncle.
Years later, Albert Flesch started his work career in the camera department of Siegel-Cooper, one of the large downtown department stores of its day.
With this initiation to photography, he opened Central Camera in a storefront at 31 E. Adams St. in 1899.
The 1893 Columbian Exposition put Chicago on the map as an international city. By 1899, downtown Chicago already had staked its growth on vertical construction with the first generation of skyscrapers such as architect Louis Sullivan’s Auditorium Theatre Building at 430 S. Michigan Ave; and the Elevated tracks already defined the “LOOP”.
Albert Flesch offered the innovative service of commercial developing and print processing at his store in 1900 and also introduced a mail-order catalogue. Central Camera prospered and, after a move to another location on Wabash Avenue, settled in 1929 at its present location, in what had been a piano store.
Albert Flesch had a heart attack and died in 1933 at the age of 56. Together Stanley and Harold branched into new areas such as Albert Specialty Co., a manufacturing business that made tripods and other equipment, which was disbanded in the late 1950’s. Harold’s son Albert “Don” Flesch, the current owner, started working in the store as a schoolboy in the 1950s.