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Mid-Island Plaza: 1957

Circa 1956-57. "Urbanism -- USA. Mid-Island Plaza and parking lot in Long Island, New York." 35mm color transparency, Paul Rudolph Archive, Library of Congress. View full size.

Circa 1956-57. "Urbanism -- USA. Mid-Island Plaza and parking lot in Long Island, New York." 35mm color transparency, Paul Rudolph Archive, Library of Congress. View full size.


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Proust's Madeleine

Like the French dude's cookie, this picture brings back a wealth of memories to me.
I grew up less than a mile away, and I walked there often in my middle and high school years. Gertz had a kids' club called the Pie Club, which gave you a book every year on your birthday, and they would sponsor a movie for members in the mall theater every few months, with the highlight being a pie-eating contest. One show featured a visit by Carl Yastrzemski, a Boston Red Sox Player who had grown up on Long Island.

And the food! Maybe once a year, we'd get a Sicilian pie from Pizza D'Amore. (Our go-to pizza place was Dante's on Woodbury Road.) After Sunday Mass, we'd go to Mid-Island Bakery for crisp crusted Kaiser rolls and seeded rye. If I hadn't kicked the pew in front of us, my mom bought me a Black & White cookie.

So I Did

A '57 Custom 300.

Maybe prosaic, but Identifiable!

Maybe mostly prosaic daily drivers, but they are nevertheless distinctive. I count 18 identifiable cars and I am able to ID the make (and usually the year) of 16 of them. And yes Dave, two 1957 Fords.

[I'm driving that '54 Hudson. - Dave]


We lived just a few miles from Mid-Island Plaza from about 1955 thru 1960 when we moved to New Jersey. My mother didn't drive at that time so we sometimes took a cab there to shop during the week. I don't remember much about the mall but those cab rides!!

edit: If you car spotters spy a '56 Studebaker in the lot it may very well be ours. My father loved that thing.

She's a fighter

Mid-Island Plaza has an interesting history. Mid-Island opened in 1956, on the site of a former boys' orphanage and a dairy and vegetable farm. It cost $40 million and was built to accommodate more than 40,000 shoppers daily. That's a lot of shopping. Beneath the mall was a nearly mile long truck tunnel. In 1957 the tunnel was designated a Civil Defense operational headquarters, providing emergency accommodations for over 9,000 people. Those were scary times. Mid-Island was enclosed in 1968, renamed Broadway Mall in 1989, renovated between 1987 and 1991, and completely redeveloped in 1995. Decline set in as we entered the new millennium. As referenced by Notcom, Gertz eventually became Macy's, and closed in 2020. JCPenney opened in 1999 and closed in 2003. I read somewhere Penney's thought online shopping was a passing fad and doubled down on bricks and mortar. But Broadway Mall is still there, which is a lot more than you can say about a lot of other malls.

That's my hometown!

Hicksville, New York.

I used to shop at Gertz all the time with my mom. It used to be an outdoor shopping plaza until they finally covered it. it was kind of interesting, all the stores retained their old exteriors. Later on, I worked there at Consumers Dist for a few years. It's seen many highs and lows.


Car collectors and nostalgia buffs like to think of 1950s automobiles as the stuff of glamour and youthful dreams. But, as this photo attests (with the exception of the 1955 Chevy and '53 Mercury hardtops as well as the red '54 Chevy convertible), most of them were, withal, pretty dull.

No store is an island

But it can be confined to one. Started as a stationery store in Queens during the Depression, Gertz grew - bigly - at it original location before joining the rush to the

suburbs in the 50's. It was one of two Allied Stores divisions in the NYC area - Stern Bros got the Jersey side while Gertz expanded on Long island - but they all became Sterns eventually. The store shown in the main pic ended its life as a macy*s - in what was then known as Broadway Commons - in 2020.

1957 Ford

Interestingly, I see only one 1957 auto. The black Ford second from very right of the picture.

[You missed the other one! - Dave]

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