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Parking Lot Series: Upscale Pre-World War II Chicago Parking Lot

A few weeks ago a photo that is the first in a series of three Chicago parking lots images by John Vachon was featured here. Today the other two shots of the same upscale parking lot taken in July of 1941 while Vachon worked for the US Farm Security Administration are shown. This pair of photographs appear to be taken from the same elevated location used earlier for the first shot and apparently show more automobiles in the same facility behind the other vehicles in the first report. The location of this space remains a mystery.

As noted earlier: “A quick perusal of the images shows a number of late model Cadillac, Packard, Buick, Oldsmobile, and Plymouth automobiles in these scenes. Little in the way of lower-priced cars indicates that this lot may have been situated in the high-rent downtown office district?”

Tell us what you find of interest in this Library of Congress photo. You can view over seventy-five other parking facilities in The Old Motor Parking Lot Series.

  • Enlargeable versions of today’s feature parking lot images.

13 responses to “Parking Lot Series: Upscale Pre-World War II Chicago Parking Lot

  1. I’m surprised, I only found one Ford, in the second picture a 1941 sedan next to the 1939/40 Mercury coupe, in front of the Ford there’s a Packard. Plenty Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Plymouth, one lonely 1940 Hudson and also one lonely 1939 Studebaker.

  2. In the 1st photograph, foreground center, is a 1941 four-door PONTIAC Custom Torpedo; in the row to the left, seven cars back, is a two-tone 1940 BUICK Super Four-Door Touring Sedan.

    In the 2nd photograph, center row, 2nd car in, is a 1940 BUICK Special Business Coupé or Sport Coupé. In the same row, sixth car in, is a 1940 BUICK Super Four-Door Touring Sedan [looks like the same car in the 1st picture].

  3. Five cars with white wall tires in view. They certainly did dress up a car. Wish we still had them today. So many cars to pick from and so little time. I’ll take the 1940 Mercury coupe. My HS buddy had a 1940 Mercury convertable which only looked good when the top was down, but then who puts up a convertable top down anyway?

  4. In the third photo the cars seem oddly segregated by color, the right hand row being all black cars while the other two contain a mix of medium to light colored vehicles save one. It seems especially challenging to ID cars from only the top lwith the grilles largely hidden. I wonder if this wasn’t some sort of long term storage given how tightly the cars were packed in?

  5. I spied a nice 1941 Mercury 4 dr. “Town Sedan“ in 1st pic. upper right (facing left), then the nice `1940 Mercury “Sedan-Coupe“just below the sedan, but facing to the right—the only car that appears to have a clear opening exit.

    These quality cars are good looking, very clean and shining. There is a nice sprinkling of two-tone painted cars in this lot as well. I counted 3 in the left row and two in the middle row. Factory two-tones were still relatively rare amongst the less expensive cars, so I still think this is a very elite audience with valet-only parking area perhaps near a horse racing track or deluxe setting such as afternoon parking prior to a summer evening outdoor classical “pops“ music concert perhaps.

    White wall tire availability dried up by December 1941 so we know this is probably well before Dec. 7th! Another timing cue: We know that the majority of new 1942 year models did not go on sale until Oct. 1, 1941. I am not sure, but I don`t believe we see any 1942 year model cars in these photos.

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