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Parking Lot Series: Philadelphia’s Reyburn Plaza

Today’s image, taken in the early-1950s from City Hall in Philadelphia, is a view of Reyburn Plaza while it was serving as a temporary parking lot. The roadway in the foreground is Filbert Street, and visible at the rear of the plaza is a music shell.

The vast majority of the automobiles parked in the plaza other than a couple of Packards and a few other high-end cars are fairly average everyday vehicles. Perhaps the most interesting car in the scene is a sleek two-tone Lincoln Zephyr coupe on the street.

Share with us what you find of interest in this image courtesy of PhillyHistory.

19 responses to “Parking Lot Series: Philadelphia’s Reyburn Plaza

  1. Among the newer vehicles I see are ‘52 Ford’s (the back end of a Customline or possible Crestline in the lower left just above the hood of the truck; a black Customline on the curve in the parking lot; another dark one (a Mainline) some distance to the left directly by the opening into the lot; and, a white top over dark in the third row between what I believe is a ‘49 Pontiac on the left and a ‘51 DeSoto on the right. A ‘52 Packard in the front row, third car to the right of the opening. A ‘52 Chieftain Custom Catalina along the bottom.

    The newest would be the ‘53 Ford in front two over to the left of the Mainline seen at the opening and a ‘53 white over black (could be a convertible) in the approximate middle of the second to last row. A two-tone ‘53 Plymouth (possible Cranbrook) in row 2, sixth to the right of the opening. Another ‘53 Cranbrook in the same row eight to the left of the opening. It may also be a ‘53 (if not a ‘52) Henry J in the front row, second car from the left beside the two-tone ‘52 Buick last on the left.

  2. Jammed into what should be an aisle on the right, a dark over white ’50 Buick Super Tourback sedan extended-wheelbase Model 52 . This side of it a light ’47 Studebaker Champion 2-dr sedan and a dark ’48 version behind it (’47 = tall hood emblem, ’48 = wide one), To the left of the latter, a ’47 or ’48 Buick Super or Roadmaster Sedanet while to the right forward by the sidewalk, with a tree blocking the driver’s door, a ’41 Packard Clipper or a ’42 Clipper Special (the only models with a non-wraparound grille in the Clipper line)..

    Entering the area from the street on the right, another ’47 or ’48 Buick and a ’51 Mercury…but ahead is the prize of the day, a spectacular Lincoln Zephyr Coupe, most likely a ’38 with its split rear window, curved upper, inboard edge of the split grille vs a ’39 and no fender-mounted parking lights vs a ’40 or ’41, though it appears to have black-accented ’40 or later sealed beam headlights installed

    Farther to the left but to the right of the entry, between a ’50 Dodge Wayfarer 2-door sedan and a 47 or ’48 Mercury Sedan Coupe appears to be a ’52 Packard Patrician 400. Behind it is a likely ’51 Kaiser with its recessed bar in the grille vs a ’52 or ’53 with a more prominent bar connecting the bumper guards
    On the far left front row beside the wall, a ’51 or ’52 Buick Special Riviera ahead of a ’53 Plymouth Belvedere or Cranbrook hardtop and beside a light ’51 or ’52 Henry J.

    In the street, to the right of the ’50-52 Plymouth taxi appears to be a ’40 Buick Super Sport Coupe (side chrome at same level as door handle vs a Special or Century), a ’50 Packard Super Eight Touring Sedan and a two-tone ’52 Pontiac DeLuxe or Super DeLuxe Catalina…notably with its windows down.

    In the 5th row back, 4th car from the left a dark over light ’52 Chrysler Windsor Sedan. Two cars to the left a ’49 or ’50 Nash Ambassador beside a ’52 Packard 200 Sedan. Of some stature in the 2nd row from the back, 4th car to the left, appears to be a ’41 Cadillac Sedan of indeterminate Series, while in the row behind 2nd car from the right next to a ’51 Ford, likely a Victoria, could be a ’46 Cadillac Sedan

  3. In the front row, 3rd car from the left [parked just to the right of the HENRY J], is a dark 1942 BUICK Limited Limousine, with roof-rack.

    • AML, I believe that Buick Limited is likely a Model 90 8-passenger Touring Sedan. I had thought initially it had to be a postwar model as the ’42s (even the Specials and Centurys on the old body) had a chrome teardrop extending around the sides from the turn signal under the headlight. But Buick dropped the entire Series 90 Limited postwar, so maybe that teardrop was omitted on the commercial versions or that particular fender was damaged and replaced at some point…and ’42 teardrop trim were too hard to come by.

      • Roof-rack Buick too fuzzy (LWB Buick at right of photo much sharper), but if it was built from 1/1/42 until the end of civilian production (Chevy on 1/30, Buick 2/2, Cadillac 2/4, Olds 2/5, and Pontiac 2/10) when black-paint trim was required, it’s possible the “Airfoil-style” extensions at parking lght level were omitted. But it’s quite unlikely, for Limited production was so small: 250 (90L), 215 (90), 150 (91), and 85 (91F). My grandfather had replaced his 139″ Buick with a 148″ Packard after the war (he never considered a Cadillac; but as he didn’t like having to pay about $2500 more than the Buick for that Packard [due to wartime and post-war inflation], I wonder why he didn’t buy a 145.5″ Chrysler at about $500 less, especially since he bought Chryslers post-Packard), so it wasn’t there for me to see or ride in. He had given it to the son of a cousin with a larg family. 5 or 6 or 7 kids, I believe. They were a bit unconventional, the family’s “black sheep” (if that term is still permissible), so I’d never met or visited them. They lived in a 1920s Spanish-style house (with tower) on the side of a steep Seattle hill. When they said that they still had the Buick, we rode the scary elevator (with gate) 3 stories (so slowly that it seemed like 12) down to their garage, where the ’42 Buick sat, covered with cobwebs and debris. They let me look inside. Couldn’t see very much, but mildew smell was clear. Never saw them or it again, but it had front fender “spears,” so I will guess that it was built in 1941.

        Strange, too, is the fact that I quite like the ’41 Cadillac (behind the light post near the band shell) in the photo here.

        Like father/grandfather; like son? Not!

  4. Randomly along the bottom, a white or light ‘52 Cranbrook in taxi mode with a ‘50 Chev Styleline Deluxe sedan behind; a guess at a ‘40 Buick Special Sport Coupe below the Chev; a dark ‘49 Packard Eight Sedan; and, the Chieftain Custom Catalina. Behind it, a ‘50 Dodge sedan (maybe a Meadowbrook). Just coming into the frame on the far right, and trailing the Zephyr, a ‘51 Mercury Sport Sedan. Over on the left, ahead of the taxi, a dark ‘50 DeSoto Custom convertible and below it, the back of a ‘49 Olds 88 torpedo back.

    There is a dark ‘51 Olds in the first row, three left of the angle in the sidewalk and possibly another dark ‘51 (or ‘50) in row 3 five to the left. Directly back from the ‘51 Olds by the sidewalk and across the aisle in row 3, the toothy smile of a ‘50 Pontiac.

    In the distance, parked along the curb, the fifth car to the right of the band shell is a sharp looking two-tone ‘52 Olds Super 88 Holiday with whitewalls and visor. Over on the left and in the street, a black over white ‘52 Mercury Monterey Sport Coupe (I can detect the metal molding along the rear fender then the reverse downward angle at the rear quarter window. Can’t detect any other body trim so not a ‘53).

  5. While the Zephyr is immediately eye catching, what I find more attractive parked in the street behind and to the right of the band shell is a natty two tone Olds coupe w/ sun visor, maybe ‘51 or ‘52?

  6. I’ll take a stab at the truck:
    Felix Spa(n)la & Sons
    Fresh & Frozen
    (Meats?) & Vegetables

    Not sure how frozen they stayed in that open backed uninsulated truck.

  7. Looks like, after the traffic island, you were on your own. Couple Packards, including one being forced over by the Pontiac. The “Felix Sparla(?) and Sons” truck, looks like a late 40’s Ford F5, and the truck at the bottom, I thought was a paddy wagon, I believe is an armored truck.

  8. Scanning the scene, I can detect maybe 2 station wagons. One would be in the street left of the band shell. Maybe an early ‘50’s Plymouth Suburban but unable to clearly tell. It trails the ‘52 two-tone Mercury. The other long roof would be in the front row behind the gentleman in the sidewalk with gray coat. Unless it is an Estate Sedan, there are a lot of side windows on that vehicle and it isn’t a woodie.

    In addition to the ones previously identified, I detect another Studebaker in the front row on the far left, four from the end. A possible ‘48 Dodge Special Deluxe Sedan to its right followed by a ‘51 Ford Sedan. Quite a few bullet Ford’s scattered throughout. Six cars to the right of the opening, a dark ‘48ish DeSoto Suburban Sedan. Another dark MOPAR to it’s right, a possible ‘50 Plymouth Deluxe Sedan. Across the wide aisle from the two-tone ‘53 Plymouth in the immediate vicinity, may be a dark ‘39 or ‘40 Mercury Eight.

    Most of the vehicles (save for a half dozen or so) are parked facing the lower street. One of the exceptions is the dark coupe in row 3 ahead of the opening and just to the right of the dark Buick. The driver pulled in from the street along the bottom, saw a space and made his move into it. A good guess I think.

  9. In the forties, virtually no cars had whitewall tires, but by the mid-fifties most cars had them. This photo represents the beginning of the transition, with all of the older cars having blackwalls, but many of the latest models having whitewalls. In my humble opinion, in that era whitewalls really jazzed up the looks of cars. I say that as someone who wouldn’t dream of putting whitewalls on a modern car, or on a sixties muscle car, or even on a fifties sports car other than a Corvette or T-bird.

    • IMHO, there are some ’50s and ’60s sports and muscle cars that some wouldn’t dream of NOT having WSW: Arnolt-MG, Cunningham, Nash-Healey. Some E-types wore WSW with WWs.

      ’57 Rambler Custom Rebel; ’65 Catalina 2+2.

      Chrysler 300-E, ’63 Riviera, ’64 GP, ’65 Corsa.

      Chevrolet posed Corvettes with WSW to ’68.

      Ford posed WSW Mustangs ’til the RWL era.

      Redlines on F-bodies. On W-30s. On GTOs.

      Super Bees and Roadrunner Six-pack 440s.

      And ’63-’64 Avanti without WSW? Really?

  10. Last kick at this one.

    On the far left, a gray tone ‘51 or ‘52 Chrysler Windsor sedan behind the man seen walking across the lot. To the right of the black over white ‘52 Windsor that Pat W identified in row 5, I thought could be a Kaiser but a longer look shows just a hint of a central bullet in the grill so a ‘49 or ‘50 Mercury sedan and what may be a ‘48 Packard Super Eight next to the right. Three cars further right, between a ‘53 white (a possible ragtop) over black Ford and a ‘50 Ford, might be another Henry J. It is slightly smaller in stature than the immediately surrounding vehicles.

    In row 6, last car on the right (about where the bicyclist is) appears to be a two-tone ‘53 Dodge Coronet and perhaps a black ‘42 Cadillac Sedan to it’s left. A further two over to the left, a dark ‘47 Buick Roadmaster.

  11. There is a dark ‘42 Olds in the third row (near the middle) that is to the left of a two tone ‘48 Olds 98.

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