Saturday, April 22, 2017

Vintage New York City

I listen to a LOT of podcasts. Disney related, pop culture stuff (movies and TV), skepticism, and tech are some subjects that I enjoy. And I recently started listening to a podcast called "The Bowery Boys", devoted to the history of New York City. Nobody can deny that NYC has an incredible history full of amazing places and fascinating characters. Nobody, do you hear??

Anyway, listening to these shows made me want to dig out my very small box of vintage New York slides in order to scan some and see if there was anything interesting. In my opinion, there is! Like this 1958 photo taken at a train platform. It's full of vintage goodness! Unfortunately I have no specifics as to the exact location of this train station - if anybody recognizes it, please chime in!

Next is this undated (but 1950's?) shot taken from 5th Avenue looking west on 42nd Street. That's the wonderful New York Public Library to our left. The odd gothic structure in the distance is the 16-story Wurlitzer building, finished in 1919. I can find remarkably little info about this building (are you there, Chuck?), such as when exactly it was demolished, though I believe it was within the last few years. At some point the Cinematheque Theater opened in the building, and it showed some of Andy Warhol's movies back in the 60's. The Velvet Underground performed there as well.

Here's a screen grab from Google's "street view" as the scene looks today.


Nanook said...


Who doesn't love the Big Apple-? Certainly not I. I'm away from home this weekend, so I haven't ready access to my car ID books, but from left to right in the second image we have a. Chevrolet, a Plymouth and a Chrysler yellow taxi.

Thanks, Major.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I've been to NYC a number of times, and have yet to see an apple. I am thinking of suing the city, but just haven't gotten around to it yet! Thanks for the car IDs, those old autos look so great.

K. Martinez said...

Best vacation I ever took was to New York City. Because I had the time I took the train from Emeryville (home of Pixar) to Chicago via the Empire Builder Route, then on to New York City. Beautiful journey to a great city.

You have a small box of vintage New York slides? Please, share more! I really like the train platform pic. It reminds me of my time there when I'd catch the train from Queens to Manhattan everyday. Again, I hope you post more of these vintage NYC slides. I love 'em!

Thanks, Major!

Chuck said...

Major, I got nothin' on the Wurlitzer Building, but the bus in the second picture is probably a Mack C-45-DT in Surface Transportation System livery, although it's hard to tell from this angle. It could also be a C-41-DT or a C-37-DT, all of which were also operated by Surface Transportation. The main external difference was the length.

This photo was probably taken in the 1950-52 time period, based on the bus paint scheme and the rough model year of the cars.

I found a couple of other photos of Surface Transportation C-45-DTs in this same paint scheme. The first was probably taken under the 3rd Ave El, still operating in Manhattan in the early '50s, but just exactly where is anyone's guess.

The secondwas snapped in front of what was then the RKO Palace Theater on Times Square some time between November 16th 1951 and February 24th, 1952, during Judy Garland's record-breaking, 19-week live run. Note the building-sized poster next door for the William Wyler film Detective Story, released November 6th, 1951.

I agree with Ken - more vintage New York would be just swell!

Major Pepperidge said...

K. Martinez, wow, a cross-country journey by train… not many people do that anymore! Must have been quite an adventure. How many days did it take? I’m not even sure that “a small box” describes the number of NYC slides that I have. More of a small stack, though I wish there were more.

Chuck, ah yes, I forgot that you were an authority on vintage buses! There is something very cool about the way they look - imagine having a nice two-tone vintage bus, and fixing up the inside so that it was the epitome of luxury! Still with a 50’s flair, of course. Thanks for the info!

DrGoat said...

I was born on Manhattan, NYC in '50. My parents moved to Tucson in '55. Mom said she didn't want to raise us there for one reason or another. I'm glad we did, can't imagine what my life would have been like if we had stayed. Loved growing up in the desert. Went back only once. it was actually pretty cool, but a bit overwhelming.

Anonymous said...

Old city pictures are wonderful. Thanks Major. Love to hear about the old cars too.


Clyde Hughes said...

Thanks for the great shots!
The vintage NYC street scenes with the library and Wurlitzer building remind me of "Ma and Pa Kettle Go To Town," which has quite a few vintage NYC scenes. Also...the later seasons of "Rhoda" feature the library in the closing credits.

I love that bus!
I wonder if the Wurlitzer Building was affiliated with the Wurlitzer music co, who make the jukeboxes and pianos?

I did some sleuthing and found this:
"The building ... formerly housed the Wurlitzer Co., which made pianos, organs, jukeboxes, radios and instruments. It has been owned by a limited liability corporation controlled by Paul Curtis, husband of Wayne County Circuit Judge Daphne Means Curtis.

More recently, the building has suffered from collapsing walls and crumbling facade, including a 2011 incident in which a 50-pound piece of the building fell off a high floor and punched a hole into the roof of a neighboring cafe."