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Parking Downtown Inc. – Milwakee, Wisconsin

A few weeks ago we visited this parking lot, and at the time a reader identified the location as the southwest corner of Wisconsin Ave. and 6th Street. Once again the scene contains a Schlitz beer sign, this time facing in the opposite direction and giving the Brewer double-coverage.

Earlier this circa 1957 image had not yet been uncovered and after finding it and viewing things a little differently, it is clear that the lot was operated by Parking Downtown Inc. Research has turned up the fact that Milwaukee’s downtown merchants formed the operation in 1953 to provide more parking for shoppers.

Many of the same cars are in the lot in the same spot as the earlier image, but the two enlargeable views (below) with a different perspective puts a whole new light on the scene. Share with us what interests you in this photograph, courtesy of the UWMilwaukee.

Parking Lot Schlitz Street Scene 1957

Parking Lot Schlitz Beer Parking Dountown Inc.

22 responses to “Parking Downtown Inc. – Milwakee, Wisconsin

      • A small sign on the light post in the 1st pic shows a “Wis State Fair” banner. It is typically 11 days in late July, early August. Since I’m here, I’m surprised there is only one ( that I see) Packard. Milwaukee had 6 or 7 Packard dealerships at one time, but by ’57, I’m sure they started to close. Still, no 22nd or 23rd series.

  1. Wow, a lot of orphans in the first row!

    From left: a ’55 Plymouth, a Packard, a Mercury, a ’55 Pontiac, a Studebaker (a Scotsman, I think), a ’55 Imperial 2-door hardtop, a ’55 Buick, a’55 Chevy, a Nash & a ’56 Ford.

  2. I enjoy pictures like this and I look for names no longer with us. I see a Studibaker a Packard I think a Nash. There will be some Pontiacs also. Japanese cars are noticeably absent.

    • At this time period, there were few Japanese cars in the US. Toyota had brought a few Toyopet Crowns into CA in 1958, and the first Nissans appeared in the same year. Sales were dismal in both cases. Honda wouldn’t sell cars in the US until 1970.

  3. In the first picture there’s a 1948 “Silver Streak” Pontiac at the left end of the second row, the last year of refreshed pre-war models and first year of the round tail lights that characterized Pontiacs for a number of subsequent years. Also the first year that Hydra-Matic was available on Pontiac.

    In the middle of the front row is a Studebaker Scotsman, a stripped-down model that could be purchased for about the same price as a VW Beetle in those days.

    There are several 1957 Fords and, in the second picture, a 1957 Buick visible so that may date the photos pretty firmly. Although the Scotsman was also available in 1958 I don’t recognize any other ’58s in the pictures.

  4. The Studebaker next to the Imperial looks like a Champion, because of the chrome hub caps and stainless trim on body. Nice mix of cars.

    • You’re correct that it’s a Champion – actually a Custom sub-series of the Champion which was less expensive than the Champion. The Scotsman like the Custom was originally a sub-series of the Champion when introduced in 1957.

      Although the Scotsman weighed only 75 lbs less than the Custom (2 dr sedans) its factory price was $1776 vs. $2001 for the Custom and $2123 for the Deluxe. The windshield and rear window rubber moldings on the Custom sub-series cars leads to some mistaking them for a Scotsman, but as you point out the Scotsman did not have bright side trim nor chrome plated hub caps.

      There was also a Custom sub-series of the Commander (259 cu in V8) line in 1957. The Custom sub-series existed for one year only thus finding a contemporary parking lot photo of either is surprising. Only 1751 2 dr Customs were manufactured in 1957 vs 2,943 2r Scotsman sedans – followed by 5,538 1958 Scotsman 2 dr sedans.

      • Interestingly, some Studebaker Scotsman cars had hub caps and some other trim parts that were painted over chrome plating. Apparently it was easier/cheaper to paint more expensive plated parts than to stock cheaper un-plated parts. Kind of the reverse of putting lipstick on a pig.

    • Interesting to me is that the later GM cars stand out so boldly by their daring use of color on the sides of the cars as well as above the belt lines . and don’t you love the bathtub Nash Airflyte exiting the lot in the 1st foto… the independents didn’t lack thereof in style. The Silver Streak is a ’47( by the streaks on the fenders)and by 57, the Pontiac in the 2nd foto no longer had any streaks (under the wall parking sign) they were gone in ’56 (introduced in ’36(? ) Also, only 2 cars w/ cowl ventilation , 2 more w/ the Nashes, and only 1 car…the ’53 Chevy w/ a sun visor… looks pretty grey in Wisconsin.

      • GB…second look, more sunvisors- !st foto-Olds, 5th row back looking at you- and
        another, 2nd foto- on the (maybe) bathtub Nash ‘tween the VW and the Chrysler…still doesn’t look sunny to me , dreary wet; I think!

  5. FWIW that VW does NOT appear to have the pre-’58 oval rear window. Its wide whites lasted only through ’60, I believe. Thus the VW probably is a ’58-’60. Only foreign car on the lot?

  6. There’s another Nash in the 4th row, and what appears to be a pre-Pininfarina Nash exiting the parking lot onto the street

    • The Dodge truck is a C-3, which is 55 and 56. 54 was a C-1, which also had a one piece curved windshield, but not a wraparound like the 55-56 C-3.

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