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1939 Dudley Street View in Roxbury, Massachusetts

Today’s photo takes us to Dudley Street which is located in Roxbury, a neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts that is situated over three miles southwest of the center of the City. The image was taken in June of 1939, and it shows an overhead Rapid Transit track to Summer Street, which is about a quarter of a mile from the heart of the Metropolis.

Left-to-right in the scene, we see an air-conditioned movie theater where “A Nazi Spy” and “Alexander Graham Bell” were playing, and an interesting mix of vehicles one of which dates back to at least the early 1930s or before. One of the oldest is a Happy Home Bread Cakes Model “A” Ford sedan delivery just in front of the bus in the right-hand lane.

Tell us what you find of interest in the expandable photographs below of this street scene courtesy of the Boston Public Library.

16 responses to “1939 Dudley Street View in Roxbury, Massachusetts

  1. The car on the left rear is a 32′ Studebaker convertible roadster [their description, not mine ] in front of that a 38′
    Plymouth, right side my guess 35′ Ford standard, [due to single taillight] following [my guess ] a 37′ Desoto , due to the chrome trim on the taillight.

      • Brian, I have often thought the same thing. My guess is that at that time cars and trucks were more utilitarian as compared to today’s vehicles. I baby my pickup truck, but at the cost of new I’d hate to use it up like it was 1939.

      • I think some of that has to do with the quality of the original photos as well as the scanning to digital media.

        • I don’t think so,look at the shiny Plymouth, and the clean looking Desoto , and then check out the ratty ford that looks like it has a busted spring or shackle !!

          • The paint used on cars was junk when you compare it to today’s paint. It took 5-7 days to paint a car on the assembly line, mostly for drying time. And if you ever tried to put a shine on a 50s, 60s, or 70s car you know just how bad the paint was. Just getting the oxidation off the paint was a half day project, then you waxed.

  2. Avon Theater – “Confessions of a Nazi Spy”, with one of the best, Edward G. Robinson.

    Also in the photo a “Happy Home Bread Car.”

  3. The car on the right plate 505116 is a 1936 Ford standard. The wheels were new in 1936 to replace the former wire wheels. The fender line is convex; the 1935 fenders were the last of the concave style. The car ahead is a Dodge I suggest.

  4. Certainly up through the mid 1980s this area of Dudley Street had not changed much albeit modern vehicles, additional elevated tracks running down as it heads towards the arboretum and more buildings on both sides of the street giving it an extremely closed in, dark and gloomy feeling. “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

  5. Please take note of the “Screaming Mimi” GMC 2-stroke (Roots blown) Diesel engine “Flxible” City bus! Edwin -30 –

  6. I find it interesting but sad to see these old photos, and then be able to see the same place today. There is absolutely nothing left that possibly could indicate what was once here. Just an expanded version of Dudley street, no elevated, and a bunch of empty space. Views like this show an America, that for the most part, just doesn’t exist anymore, even in a modern form. The closeness of everything that must have lent itself to the tight knit neighborhoods that once existed. The interesting and unique scenes that contrast to the sameness of today’s street scenes. The personality that is so thick, you can feel it through the image. All the things I felt as a child in the 60’s, when the remnants of what we see here still existed to a fair extent.

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