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Intriguing Late-1930s Scenes On The Streets Of Chicago

We just visited the Windy City the other day to watch a film showing Harry Hartz and the Oldfield Hell Drivers on the track at the Chrysler exhibit at the 1933-1934 Century of Progress World’s Fair. This time we are back to view three street scenes taken about three or four years later.

The lead photo shows an intersection that the UIC Library, the source of the images identifies as Sheridan Road and Broadway. The circa 1937 photograph is filled with a number of coupes and sedans the oldest of which appears to date to about 1930.

The image below identified as Sheridan Road and Hollywood has a view looking out towards a beach on Lake Michigan. Once again the photo was taken in the later-1930s and the oldest car in the photo is a late-1920s sedan on the far-left with drum headlights. Check out the interesting advertising tire cover on the back of the Model A Sedan for five-cent Bunte Tangos Candy Bars and the Auburn Sedan two cars behind it.

The bottom photo dates to the late-1930s and shows the intersection of Oakley Boulevard and Lake Street. This scene is not filled with cars, but it was chosen because of the interesting perspective the photographer used. Overhead are the L tracks (a now-official name that was originally short for elevated) that have survived to this day; below it are the streetcar tracks.

Tell us what you find interesting in the photos and anything you can add about the locations. Many more Street Scenes can be found here. The IDOT photos were found thanks to Dan Strohl of Hemmings Motor News.

Vintage old 1930s Chicago street scene with old antique vintage cars

  •              Sheridan Road and Hollywood Ave. (above) – Oakley Boulevard and Lake Street (below).

Vintage old 1930s Chicago street scene with old antique vintage cars

19 responses to “Intriguing Late-1930s Scenes On The Streets Of Chicago

  1. 2nd photo. What is the car with the wooden wheels? L scene… how many rivets do you think it took to build a mile of that?

  2. Great stuff, as usual! I Googled “Sheridan Road Chicago in the 1930’s” and found LOTS of great pics. Try it! Still have not identified the intersection in the first photo; having too much fun on the “side trip”.

  3. Current maps show Broadway and Sheridan intersecting twice. Not sure if there were any street name changes between when the picture was taken and today.

    The caption there reports that the image was taken facing west. There are two possible locations today (internet maps) where one can face west on Sheridan viewing the intersection with Broadway. I don’t see any reason to question the location based on who took and cataloged this photo originally.

    • Oh and labeled and cross referenced with latitude and longitude, there are two more pictures at the same intersection a few months later. However, I think the longitude and latitude may not be correct.

      I believe this is the north intersection of Broadway and Sheridan, and the longitude and latitude are for the south intersection.

    • The lamp posts on the corners have the street names on them. I have enlarged left-hand post to a large size but the name is not totally readable, but I can clearly read Ave. at the end. What can be seen though does not look at all like it is Broadway. This is why I am questioning it.

      • Yes I looked at that too.

        I was wrong earlier – this is the south most intersection of West Sheridan and North Broadway. Here is the proof of the location. Link to the three images with the same latitude tag (the first is the picture in the original post (and the last two were taken May 11, 1937). The drugstore can be seen in all three, the directions in the captions match the map as do other additional details

        At the second image zoom in on the lightpole by the three people in the crosswalk on the right side of picture. The street sign reads “N. Broadway”. The drugstore has now closed and is on the left in this picture.

        At the third image zoom in on the left, to read the street sign “W Sheridan Rd” and the number on the front door of the closed drugstore is 3900. Which is an address at this intersection.

        • With these clues I figured out the ‘AVE’ sign. It’s Clarendon Ave. If you select ‘all sizes’ then ‘original’ on flickr it’s Clarendon fits all the letters. Broadway merges into Clarendon Ave. Furthermore on google maps streetview the building to the right of the cleaners is still standing.

          • You are almost there.
            It is the intersection of Sheridan and Broadway looking NE from Sheridan.
            Clarendon Ave. is just to the East of this photo (to the right)
            The photo appears to have been taken from the roof top of the old building on the SW corner.

          • The building to the right of the cleaners that’s still standing is now a Mexican restaurant, “El Mariachi Tequila Bar & Grill” at 3906 N. Broadway. The Walgreen Drugs and the cleaners buildings have been torn down and replaced with a Cash America pawn store at 3900 N. Broadway. Another thing I find amazing about that first photo is the lack of wood utility poles and overhead power and telephone lines. Even back then the urban planners were making efforts to conceal the utilities as much as possible.

  4. What I find interesting about all the late 1930’s and 1940’s street scenes is the lack of coachbuilt cars. This is not at all surprising given how few could afford them in the depression years and how few were made, but these photos reveal just how spectacular and eye-catching those cars would have been in these settings. If there was a Duesenberg in these photos, for example, it would really stand out. I found some modern day photos recently of a 1936 or 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster on the downtown streets of Munich at AutoGespot. I’m used to seeing them on fairways and in museums, but pictures of coachbuilt cars in modern traffic are quite a sight.

  5. I am intrigued by the ‘square’ sedan in the middle of the intersection in the lead photo. It has an unusual four door body with very long rear doors – brougham sedan I think some makers called it. I guess it is something obscure – maybe a Peerless or something like it. I think it may be on later wheels.

  6. There’s something odd about that first photo, like a scene from Twilight Zone. With everyone in a purposely casual pose, sharp focus, and perfect lighting, it appears to be a staged image. That’s my first impression, maybe it’s just a good photograph.

    The only thing missing as a diorama is a Lionel 2-4-2 steaming through.

  7. One reason the US was to become the ‘Arsenal of Democracy’ was because the industrial infrastructure was already there, building cars and trucks and that long long line of steel and rivets. I posted a link in the Greyhound photo relating to the GMC 4-71 engine and where it was used in the Soviet Union, but links are not allowed here it seems. Still, the huge amount of rolling stock, etc, sent to the Sovs really helped them keep rolling. The numbers are pretty astounding, especially in view of the amount of production that we kept to ourselves.

    • We have eliminated links in comments as many of them do not work or go bad it time and harm The Old Motor’s Google ratings.

      This has caused an enormous amount of work to take care of in the past.

  8. Cute little ’31 Chevy Coupe across from the Auburn sedan. Is that a ’33 Buick or Olds behind the Coupe ?


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