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42nd Street: 1949

New York, 1949. West 42nd Street in Manhattan just off Times Square. 35mm Kodachrome contributed by a Shorpy member who found it at a yard sale. View full size.

New York, 1949. West 42nd Street in Manhattan just off Times Square. 35mm Kodachrome contributed by a Shorpy member who found it at a yard sale. View full size.


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Kodachrome Wonder

A casual snap probably by an amateur photographer. The place, time and Kodachrome make it a work of art.

'49 Plymouth

A lot to see in this pic, but I'm drawn to the 1949 Plymouth waiting to turn at the intersection bottom left. Our first family car was a '49 Plymouth. New cars back then came out in the fall.

[Chrysler's initial, "First Series" 1949 models, basically unchanged from the previous year's bulbous, pre-war designs, began production in December 1948. Its "Second Series" cars, of which the Plymouth in our photo is an example, didn't go on sale until March 1949. - Dave]

Common taxi then, rare taxi now

I believe the cab in the foreground is a Checker model A-3. Out of the thousands built, there's apparently only one known survivor that's been restored.
EDIT: Also could be the virtually identical A-2 model.

Marquee clueless

Elsewhere in the Times Square area, movie or stage theatre marquees make it possible to pinpoint the month and week a picture was taken. Not so for this picture. Neither of the two theatres whose marquees are legible were first-run theatres at this point; the Bryant was showing films released in 1942 and 1940, and the one across the street was showing films released in 1934 and 1948.

So busy, so much to see.

This photo overloads the senses. Delightful to study.
Two signs that no longer dominate. Western Union and Public Telephones.
1948 DeSotos must have made great taxis. My parents had a '48 and it was a great car.

This just looks so much more appealing than the boring and sterile views today.

Vim lost its vigor

April 4, 1948: "Charging that the company negotiated in bad faith, 325 employees of seventeen Vim radio and sporting good stores in New York City and New Jersey struck yesterday morning." [NY Times]

March 12, 1949: "Decca Records gained ground in its suit against the Vim Radio & Sporting Goods firm. ... Decca's suit, asking damages of $100,000 and an injunction, alleges that the Vim stores sold Decca platters below prices fixed by standard contract under the Fair Trade Practices Act." [Billboard]

October 4, 1951: "Magistrate Raphael Murphy in Manhattan Court yesterday adjourned until Oct. 18 hearings ... charging the Vim Radio and Sporting Goods Stores, Inc. ... with 'untrue and misleading advertising.'" [NY Times]

The chain is long gone. If you shop at a Manhattan VIM (aka V.I.M.) store today, you're far north of Times Square and looking for jeans, sneakers and hip apparel.

[Below, a couple VIM ads. Click to embiggen. The company's full-page newspaper ads stopped around 1961. - Dave]

I'm there --

This is one of those great photos you just want to step into and find yourself in period dress mingling with the crowd. I love it!

Bit part

A lot one could comment on here, and I'm going to pick something you can barely see: Stern Bros. -- its cornice is visible right above and to the left of the light standard; the whole building front had an uncredited cameo in a celebrated Twilight Zone episode, so consider this an overdue acknowledgment.

Probably not much remembered today. At one time it was thought that Stern would form the counter to Macy*s on the low end that Bloomingdale's does on the high, so life might have gone very differently. It was noted for two things in NYC retail history: It was the last big store to relocate "uptown" from the top end of the "Ladies' Mile" -- Lord & Taylor would close out the bottom a year later -- and it was the first flagship to close, or at least the first one that couldn't be rationalized away. They were finally a trend-setter, but unlikely one they would have wanted.

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