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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • THE TOY DEPARTMENT, 1913

Rocky II: 1954

Rocky II: 1954

1954. "Boxer Rocky Graziano walking streets in New York with local boys." From photos for the Look magazine article "The Fight of My Life." View full size.

 

School on 1st Avenue

That would be PS 19 on First Avenue, not PS 9.

Signs

The beautiful street corner lamppost was typical throughout the New York City area, and were eventually replaced over the next two decades. I remember playing playing around lampposts such as this growing up in Queens in the 60s and 70s. The sign that reads QUIET School Drive Slowly is probably in reference to neighboring P.S. 60 with the back entrance on 11th Street, and the main entrance on 420 E12th Street.

In Living Color

Some buildings still there. Some delivery vans updated.

Time and tide

I was thinking that Rocky looked tired and out of shape in these photos, and sure enough, a web search shows his last fights in 1952. Therefore, his boxing prime was well over at this point. I remember watching him on the Martha Raye TV show where he was a regular.

Looking north on First Avenue

Rocky and his friends are on the southeast corner of the intersection and the view is to the north along First. Many of the buildings are still there today, though needless to say they house a more upscale array of businesses than 1954's humble neighborhood stores. The building one over the head of the man in the checkered shirt and those to its right, located on the west side of First between 11th and 12th streets, were not long for the world at the time of this picture. Public School 9, the Asher Levy Campus, opened in that location in the fall of 1955. [No, that is not a mistake; in the 1950's it was still possible for the city to build a school in a year. Times certainly have changed.]

Speaking of changes, this neighborhood has seen a few. In 1954 it was known as the Lower East Side and was mainly a working-class area. Nothing fancy, not by a long shot, but a decent place in which to raise a family on a workingman's salary. By the 1960's, however, it began a steady decline. It never quite became a slum, but was close. Just one block to the east, the Alphabet City neighborhood (along avenues A, B, C and D) became infested with drugs and gangs, and even in broad daylight could be dangerous. Starting around 25 years ago, however, the area seen here got much nicer. Today, generally known as the East Village, it probably houses more "Trustafarians" than working-class families.

It's not surprising that Graziano looked worn-out in these pictures, as another comment noted. He fought 83 times in his 10-year professional career. That would be almost unthinkable today, when a boxer who fights four times in a year is unusually busy.

Meatland

And how did Rocky and his pals get so strong?

By doing lots of shopping at "Meatland" the carnivore store behind the boxer!

 
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Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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