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Grand Union: 1952

Grand Union: 1952

April 29, 1952. The Grand Union supermarket at 100 Broadway in East Paterson, New Jersey. View full size. 4x5 inch acetate negative by Gottscho-Schleisner.


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The last time I set foot in a Grand Union was probably in 1988-89, and this photo is probably the first time I have been reminded of that name since then! Looked nothing like this though!

Grand Union

I worked there! Granted it was in the 1980s and 90s, and the store sure as hell didn't look as good as that. I know this was before the fire in 1956 because the meat dept. looked nothing like that when I was there.

Price Controls

NY City still has some rent controlled (and rent stabilized) apartments. That is also a product of post WWII price controls! A "temporary" measure...

Supermarket Smokes

I'm not quite 30 and I remember my own mother smoking in grocery stores. They used to have ashtrays at the ends of aisles.

Ah, the freedom to indulge back then. Dangerous perhaps, but still a freedom.

Supermarket Memories

I grew up in the seventies but when I was a kid our local grocery stores looked exactly like the one in the photo. The mirror over the meat case, the extremely wide aisles, the style of the signs, everything.

The comment about the cigarette butt on the floor is hilarious. I remember my mom smoking in the grocery store while shopping. So many people smoked in the store that it was a frequent hassle when the grocery carts wheels would hit a butt on the floor and stop turning.

Grand Union

I wish today's prices looked like that!


In the back is a sign reading Rotiss O Mat, and to the left of that, Poultry.

Grand Union

To put this in perspective, I was exactly 11 days old when this picture was taken.


I did know that the US government, like most governments, imposed price controls after the war to fight post war inflation but I wasn't aware that they lasted as late as 1952.

[During the Korean War there was an Office of Price Stabilization, created by executive order in 1951. - Dave]

Price Ceilings

The government implemented a series of price controls to stem post-WWII inflation.

You're right.

You are right, Dave.

Oh, Jimmy Hoffa, we hardly tasted ye !

Grand Union

I had completely forgotten about this chain of supermarkets until now. And, to be over 50 years ago, it looks pretty modern. Not many things from that time can say that. But what is the "morgue" in a grocery store?

The Sign

I was trying to read the sign above the meat cabinet in the "Lamb section" but it comes out a bit too grainy. It seems to say that the meat was cut according to regulations and priced at or below ceilings, but I can't be sure I read that right, and have no idea what sort of price ceilings they'd be talking about in 1952.

The morgue

I'll bet the morgue is near the seafood department.

[Actually it's over to our right. - Dave]

Grand Union

Is that a cigarette butt on the floor in the right foreground? Or an imperfection in the photo?

[Looks like a butt to me. Cleanup on Aisle 1! - Dave]

Grand Union 2008

That looks so much better than the Pathmark that we have today in Elmwood Park (East Paterson changed its name to remove negative associations with Paterson).

100 Broadway now is a Walgreen pharmacy - the supermarket is across the street.


Hey! I didn't know crackers had their own section.

[Segregation, Northern style? - Dave]

Grand Union

I wish today's grocery stores looked like that.

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