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Mass. Transit: 1941

January 1941. "Commuters who have just gotten off the train waiting for the bus to go home. Lowell, Massachusetts." Photo by Jack Delano. View full size.

January 1941. "Commuters who have just gotten off the train waiting for the bus to go home. Lowell, Massachusetts." Photo by Jack Delano. View full size.


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Compare to "Homeward Bound" travelers

This picture fascinates me because of the many similarities to my favorite photo on Shorpy -- Delano's color picture, "Homeward Bound." (It's my biggest Shorpy purchase, framed on my office wall.) In both pictures there is around the same number of bundled-up people waiting patiently for the bus in the same spot outside of the same train station in Lowell, and at least some look the same - but in the black-and-white taken from a second-story level, there's much less snow on the roof of the train station than in the color street-level photo. One gentleman appears in the same place in both photos, second from the left. My guess is that both were taken around the same time of day, one or two days apart.

Chains, Leis and Automobiles

Lowell's got it all!

To Yuck

I was born and raised in St. Louis. Cinders in the streets were common in my childhood. Most homes were heated with coal-fired furnaces and the cinders were typically deposited in a concrete-walled ash pit and, eventually, gathered for application to wintry streets. But there were other uses.

Years passed. I became an engineer. One day a young engineer approached me with a set of plans of an existing old high school and asked the meaning of a notation on its plot plan. The note pointed to an oval running track behind the school labeled "CINDER TRACK."

Plymouths Rock

That's a nice selection of taxicabs. I like the 1939 Plymouth seven-passenger with the tire chains. The other three appear to be 1940 Plymouths.

Tire chains

When coal cinders aren’t enough.

That blonde

Just a little ray of sunshine isn't she?

Dreaming of Hawaii? It's at The Lexington every night!

The nearby advert beckons cold commuters to warm up at The Hawaiian Room, hosted by the self-described Irish Hawaiian Ray Kinney. Conveniently for us, there's an upcoming PBS special:

Demolished in the '50s

I sure hope they saved that Yellow Cab thermometer. Collected advertising thermometers for years. Never seen a Yellow Cab. I imagine it's a rare bird.


Looks like coal cinders spread on the frozen, snow-packed streets. I remember the city of St. Louis doing this when I was a boy and it sure was a huge slop when it thawed.

Lowell Union Station

was demolished in the 1950s for highway construction:

The current station is not even worth posting.

We are lucky to still have a few of the old granite "Richardsonesque" stations left on the Worcester line, notably Framingham (now a restaurant) and, of course, Worcester (not Richardsonesque, but still beautifully restored), but also the smaller versions in Ashland (veterinary) and Wellesley Hills (coffee shop).

As the song goes, "you don't know what you got till it's gone."

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