An Entertaining & Informative Vintage Automobile Internet Magazine

Parking Lot Series: Gaspee Street, Providence Rhode Island

Today’s photograph taken in 1955 shows a view of a parking lot located across the street from the State House in Providence, Rhode Island. The building on the far-upper-left-hand-side of the image is identified as St. Patrick’s Church. Considerable redevelopment has occurred in the area, and the church building has since been taken down. The train tracks on the right-hand side of the photo have been moved next to Gaspee Street, seen in the upper left-hand of the image. This parking lot appears to be mostly vacant today in a Google Satellite view.

Most of the automobiles seen in this view appear to be fairly late-model including the Studebaker and Plymouth sedans in the foreground, however, the third row contains at least three pre-war cars.

Tell us what you find of interest in this photo. You can view over seventy-five other lots in The Old Motor Parking Lot Series.  The photograph is courtesy of the Providence Public Library.

22 responses to “Parking Lot Series: Gaspee Street, Providence Rhode Island

  1. In the foreground are a 1952 STUDEBAKER Champion Custom 2 Door Sedan and a 1954 PLYMOUTH Plaza Club Coupé [behind the PLYMOUTH is an early 1950s PACKARD].

    • Also in the foreground, on the far left, is a 1953 FORD Mainline Ranch Wagon .

      In the 3rd row are two step-down HUDSON cars, either 1948 or ’49.

    • This photograph had me baffled for a while. Had thought Saint Patrick’s Church would be near the present Saint Patrick’s Church and School which is located on Smith Street four blocks west of the State House. Had to look at some old maps to ascertain the correct locations. The parking lot was the old freight rail-road yard just east of the Rhode Island State House. On the far right is the steeple of Saint John’s Episcopal Cathedral on North Main Street at Church Street. Saint Patrick’s Catholic Church would have been just north-east of the State House [present day Smith & State Streets]. The photographer is looking north-east. This area is presently part of the main line of Amtrak running through Providence.

    • The Studebaker is in fact a Regal, or Deluxe, as the custom models had painted headlight rims and no hood ornament or gravel guards.

  2. Well, 3 rows back I see what appears to be a `38 Chevy on the far left, and towards the right a `41 model. One of my favorites is in the same row on the far right–a white `53 Olds 98 cvt.! If it were a “Fiesta” model, it would be priceless.

    • All facing the same direction and seeing the uniform space between the cars makes me guess valet parking.

      I still have my father’s 1955 Rhode Island license plates. Its 4 digit number was drawn in my current state’s daily drawing. I wish I had played that number.

      • I smiled when I first saw this photograph as possibilities and wonder filled my mind …I smiled even more when I read your comment. I was born in Providence in 1955 and my parents owned a black 1954 Plymouth at the time. I have no idea of the tag number and I don’t want to know either. I don’t want the disappointment of discovering this wasn’t their Plymouth…I want to retain the idea (delusion) that it’s the vehicle that I rode in on the way home from the hospital. Ironically, I came across this photo while online trying to get a copy of my birth certificate from the RI Dept. of Records and it sparked my curiosity as to what Providence looked like in 1955…this was the first image that popped up on the screen. After looking at the photo and losing myself in the nostalgia for the longest time, I let my imagination run a little farther and decided it was an omen. And like yourself, I have been playing those numbers and combinations of those numbers on the tags of the Plymouth and Studebaker ever since. Too funny. Perhaps, like your Dad, Lady Luck will smile upon you soon.

  3. So how rare today, would be the ( ’53, I believe ) Dodge station wagon?

    To pick one for home I’ll take the convertible. I suspect it’s an Oldsmobile.

    • At first glance I agreed with you about it being a ’53 Dodge. But slowly realized that the grill wasn’t quite right and there is no oval opening in the front of the hood. Further investigation leads me to believe that it is a ’54 Dodge Meadowbrook.

  4. 5 rows back, to the left, appears to be the only pickup, an early 50’s Willys. The Studebaker and the Plymouth are clearly the center of attention, and both in the same price field, I wonder if this picture was to show someone, “which will it be, honey, the Plymouth or the Studebaker?” Some sort of pay parking, the cars all have tags under the wipers. You can see, wagons trickling in, and in 5 years, would probably be the most popular car sold.

  5. Love these old pictures especially when I can make some sort of personal connection. I doubt this was valet parking as someone suggested. Perhaps it is state employees given the proximity of the State House. Personal connection is that I was less than a mile away when this photo was taken, a student at Brown University.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *