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Footloose: 1946

Footloose: 1946

July 28, 1946. "Florsheim Shoes, 516 Fifth Avenue, New York City. Mirror detail. Ketchum, Gina & Sharp, Architects." 5x7 inch acetate negative by Gottscho-Schleisner. View full size.


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Like a cartoon

These shoes with their legless "foot mannequins" look like they should be in some kind of musical sequence from a Warner Brothers cartoon of the era.

Fifth & 43rd

The building at the corner of Fifth Avenue and West 43rd Street in 1946 and in 2011, just before it was demolished.

Love the kicks

You can't beat a riff on the classic spectator pump, but that picture sort of creeps up on you.


I remember going to Florsheim just as I was starting college. I didn't have a problem with the salesman, but the manager (sitting at a desk off the sales floor) gave me grief because I had long hair (it was 1971), and I suppose he thought I didn't look like the type who'd wear shoes. I shrugged, told him what he was, and left the two pairs of shoes I was buying on the counter. I felt a little sorry for the salesman, but I was a paying customer and I wasn't going to be treated that way, even at 18. That was more than fifty years ago, and I have never again shopped at Florsheim. That bigmouth cost his company a lot of money.

Hotfoot it to the mall

I have never encountered any actual person named Florsheim, but the name is known to every American of my generation, pretty much synonymous with shoes. Florsheim shoe stores were ubiquitous in malls into the 1990s (verified by Wikipedia!); the company says that in the 1960s it sold a pair every 4 seconds. Nevertheless, I never had Florsheims, perhaps because my parents assumed they were expensive (though they weren't).

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