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Omaha Stakes: 1938

Omaha Stakes: 1938

        We've updated this post from 2008, originally illustrated with a low-res catalog print, with this high-resolution scan made from the original negative.

November 1938. Omaha, Nebraska. "Cars parked diagonally along a row of parking meters." Photo by John Vachon for the FSA. View full size.


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The 5th car down is indeed a Buick

It's a 1938 Club Coupe.

Movie on the marquee

Pretty sure the movie playing in the theater in the background is THE ARKANSAS TRAVELER, starring Bob Burns and Fay Bainter (names on middle row)!

Corner of 16th and Dodge

The location of the Woolworth's is now the spot where the First National Bank Tower stands and the Metropolitan Drug Store is its parking garage. The only building on that corner still standing would be the one from where the picture is taken.

"Japanese" Flag

That's no Japanese flag -- it's a flag indicating a bus route. They still have the same design in Omaha today except they are metal now. There are ones with blue dots and green dots as well.

Hood Ornament

The leaping greyhound was also the hood ornament that represented Lincoln automobiles. Now, a Lincoln is part of the Ford Motor Company, but a Lincoln is not a Ford and vice versa.

Japanese Flag

Seems to me the flag is not flying next to the parking meter but on a car parked behind the meter. Maybe there is some kind of meeting going on, judging from all the late model, official-looking, cars parked in a row. That in fact may have been the real subject of this photo.

[The "real subject" is "cars parked diagonally." - Dave]

Japanese Flag?

Fifth parking meter down has a short flagpole beside it which appears to be flying a Japanese flag.

The closest three cars

Are all 1936 Fords. The leaping greyhound hood ornament on the first car was a popular accessory of the era. The fourth car down appears to be a 1937 Packard. Beyond that it gets difficult to tell. The coupe with the sidemounted spare (the fifth car down) might be a Buick.


I think this is the first picture of this type that I've seen from the 30s where all of the cars look very late model. It isn't just the cars in front, the ones in the background are new looking as well, no model A's, or T's. I'm not a car expert, but I think you get what I mean.


The parking lines becoming arrows on the sidewalk pointing to which car goes with which meter ... great!

All the same?

Look closely, the first seven cars are all different, two doors, four doors, at least two different coupes. Look at some of the color pictures from this time frame you will see many different colors also.

[I think the point is that the first three or four cars are remarkably similar in appearance, superficially at least. They seem to be the same make. No doubt the car experts out there can ID them. - Dave]


A similar picture today would show a mass of silvery/light gold colored 4 door econoboxes. Fifty years from now a viewer would be hard pressed to discern one from another.


You can get a car in any color you want, as long as it's black.

Carbon Copies

So everyone had the exact same car back then?

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