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The Bossy Lamppost: 1943

The Bossy Lamppost: 1943

New York, May-June 1943. "Many accidents are attributed to unpatrolled intersections in Harlem. Here schoolchildren are allowed to run across busy intersections unescorted." Photo by Gordon Parks for the OWI. View full size.


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What traffic?

Looks kind of quiet on the road. So the kids probaly had a viable excuse. And the whole lot looks rather orderly. So I wonder whether there is not somebody "qualified" in the lead, masked by the lamppost, even there is nobody bringing up the rear.

I wonder, too, how I survived my own childhood. No bicycle helmets, roaming around on my own, walking to school unattended (even to pre-school), and so on.

Season ?

With all the leafless trees and heavy clothing it's not likely a May-June scene.

Ashcan Alley nearby?

The Ashcan Alley post had a can that seemed to have "4ST" painted on it. Given this was in Harlem, I had wondered if that meant 134th Street.

Since the Bossy Lamppost shows Gordon Parks was shooting on 134th, I bet the Ashcan Alley is nearby. Could not find it, though, on Google Street View.

[134th is the cross street. As noted below by timeandagain, we are looking north up Seventh Avenue. - Dave]

A historic spot for a crossing

One street up, on the left, is The Big Apple, a bar and club opened in 1934, it was frequented by musicians and entertainers. Bessie Smith was there several times. Opposite it was a more famous club, Smalls' Paradise, which was eventually bought by Wilt Chamberlain. In the 1960s, it was openly a gay bar, but it had almost been that since the 1930,when it was a showbiz hangout.

The upside-down apple sign was a landmark of sorts. Someone rescued it and put it up on eBay, but too much money was asked. It is rumored to be in someone's Florida closet now.

Quiet School

As a 29 year teacher, I don't think I've ever been to a Quiet School.

7th Ave. today

This view is looking north on Seventh Avenue (now Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard) from W. 134th Street.

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