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Sachs Third Avenue: 1940

Sachs Third Avenue: 1940

November 5, 1940. "Sachs Quality Furniture Inc., 150th Street & Third Avenue, New York. General exterior, daylight. Morris Lapidus, Ross-Frankel Inc., clients." Large-format acetate negative by Gottscho-Schleisner. View full size.


Sach's jingle

I too, remember the MElrose 5-5300, along with many other jingles of the time. I'm sure some will recall "National Shoes ring the bell, for all smart women who want to dress well." And, "Nedicks B1." For those of us who were youngsters in the early forties probably remember Tom Mix's song which started "Shredded Ralston for your breakfast" and ended with "Take a tip from Tom, go an tell your mom, Shredded Ralston can't be beat." Ah those memories . . .

Another ghostly remnant

Visible at the upper right corner is some of the track structure for the late lamented Third Avenue El. This would be just north of the 149th Street station, where a free transfer was available to the Third Avenue station of the White Plains Road/Dyer Avenue subway lines, today's 2 and 5 trains.

Although the Manhattan and southern Bronx portions of the El closed in 1955, in anticipation of the (sarcasm alert) coming real soon! (/sarcasm alert) Second Avenue Subway, the Bronx portion from 149th Street north to the Gun Hill Road terminal remained in operation for another 18 years. It used 1920's-era "Lo-V" cars until the late 1960's. For the last few years of the line's existence R-12 "Redbird" cars from 1948 operated on the line.

On April 28, 1973, revenue service finally ended on the Bronx portion of the Third Avenue El, although there was a "fantrip" for rail enthusiasts the following day. The R-12's went to Flushing 7 line, where they ran for about another decade before being scrapped. Unlike the Manhattan portion of the Third Avenue El, which came down almost as soon as service ended in 1955, the Bronx section north of 149th Street wasn't demolished until several months after the end of service. Some of the old line's steelwork is still visible at the Gun Hill Road elevated station on the 2 line.

Aware that the Bronx Third Avenue El's closing could be a financial burden for the residents of the mostly lower-income neighborhoods along the line, who normally would have to pay separate fares to ride buses to the nearest remaining subway stations, the Transit Authority created a new bus line following the El's route and offering free transfers to the subway. This arrangement lasted until 1996, when the MetroCard fare card allowed free subway-bus transfers systemwide.


I just spoke to a 92-year-old friend of mine who grew up a few blocks away from this location in the Bronx and he immediately recalled Sachs' radio jingle with its phone number: MElrose 5-5300.

Ahead of its time

Even though it was constructed in the late 1930s, the Sachs storefront has many of the elements that defined "googie" coffee-shop architecture of the mid to late 1950s, from the lazy roof edge curves and tall skinny columns to the vast expanses of glass and the "floating" inner roof of the showcase.

[This is actually classic Streamline Moderne. -tterrace]

No Area Code Needed

Melrose 5-5300 was the telephone number that Sachs Quality Furniture used in its radio commercials. It was sung in a jingle that became instantly recognizable. Glen Miller's Pennsylvania 6-5000 it wasn't, but it did deliver the message efficiently. Please don't confuse Sachs Quality Furniture with Saks 5th Avenue, the upscale Department store or Saks 34th Street of "Miracle on 34th Street" fame.

Sachs' Bronx Branch

In Manhattan, Third Avenue terminates at 128th Street to become the Third Avenue Bridge. This street corner is in the South Bronx. It's now occupied by a pawn shop.

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