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Smoke and Buicks: 1915

Smoke and Buicks: 1915

Automobile Row: Broadway at West 55th Street. Another view of the January 6, 1915, subway fire in New York. More details here. 5x7 glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection. View full size.


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Buick on the Second Floor

Ah---the audacity and extravagance of an automobile display on the second floor--behind the two guys on the outside ledge of the building! That MUST have been impressive to buyers with all that modern glass window area encircling the car sitting at the corner of the room, especially in 1915.

[That's a different business on the second floor. The lettering on the window says Springfield Metal Body Co. - Dave]


Only the police department's initials were rearranged. The fire department is still known as FDNY. What's interesting to me is that these vehicles were not required to display state-issued license plates (fire vehicles still aren't), and that in January 1915, 1914 plates are still valid.


That's 57th St. and 8th Ave. looking SE

[This is Broadway at West 55th. If you're using the current Fisk Building at 250 West 57th as a landmark, it hadn't been built yet. - Dave]


Interestingly, the small vehicle facing us to the left of the mounted cop bears the markings "PDNY" (I suppose Police Department of New York) rather than the modern common acronym of "NYPD." Also, the wide vehicle with its back to us in the foreground has an "FDNY" (Fire Department of New York) license plate. I wonder when they changed those abbreviations and why? Perhaps as an image refresher after some sort of scandal.

Window Ledge

Click on View Full Size. See the two guys standing on the window ledge ? What a photo !! And the cars !! Great photo !!

Fisk Building

You'll see the sign "Fisk Tires." That's the Fisk Building, still there, although the ground floor now holds a Duane Reade.

[The is the old Fisk building at West 55th and Broadway. The current Fisk Building, at 250 West 57th, hadn't been built yet. It was completed in 1921. - Dave]


I find it interesting that this photo is filled with automobiles and no horse-drawn vehicles, while the "Death Avenue" photos, taken just 4 years earlier, contains the opposite. Roughly the same locale - West side of Manhattan - although one looks more industrial and the other more commercial. Still, quite a change in 4 years!

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