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Philadelphia Traffic Congestion and Road Construction

Traffic congestion and road construction have been an ongoing issue in cities ever since the 1910s. This press photo taken in the springtime shows the situation in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on April 30, 1956, at an unknown location.

The image contains a view of a five-lane highway expanded to six by the use of the shoulder in the foreground. Construction work is visible in the median strip and in the background on a frontage road. The vast majority on the automobiles in this view are relatively late model cars owned by business professionals and office workers commuting into the City from the suburbs.

Share with us what you find of interest in this photograph courtesy of the Temple University photo archives.

10 responses to “Philadelphia Traffic Congestion and Road Construction

  1. On the left is a white 1956 STUDEBAKER Sky-Hawk, followed, a few cars back, by a two-tone 1955 STUDEBAKER four-door President.

  2. What a great representation of the different American cars on the road at the time,sure does bring back memories.

  3. There is a clean looking 1952 Mercury Monterey 4 door sedan (probably in light “Glenwood” monotone grey) near front in middlel lane, followed by a ’56 Ford Country Squire wagon. Lots of variety of pretty good looking cars so I agree, these folks are driving into town to their well paying office or civic jobs.

    There is an older ’49 full size Lincoln Cosmo lurking in the construction zone to the right. “Mama, those are some big wrap around bumpers!” Good looking ’54 Ford Sunliner following the ’54 ? entry level Plymouth commuter coupe. I see a good looking ’55 Mercury two tone 4 door sedan following the Buick in the lane closest to the construction (r. side of photo).

    Traffic commute nightmare! Obviously coming from newer area not served yet by any good interurban rail. I see a lot of lone drivers wth sunglasses, so I suspect they are heading into some morning sun, eastbound or slightly southbound (springtime still).

  4. I only see cars w/ just drivers… no passengers anywhere. Sure looks like a happier time the traffic notwithstanding, the cars had variety to reflect the individual owners personality’s. No practically universal limo tints, open windows… no individualy controlled cabin air space. To paraphrase a popular cigarette marketing slogan of the past… “We’ve come a long, long way… “. BTW did you note the lady in the ’55 Olds Holiday , foreground.. , her right hand fingers are holding a cigarette, irony, no?

  5. If this is 1956, there are a bunch of brand new cars here: the Studebaker, Pontiac, Ford, Plymouth… Not a car older than 6 – 7 years here: the Lincoln Cosmo at the right and -I think- a Pontiac Sedan in the middle of the picture. They and the new Ford Country Squire are the only ones wearing a darker suit. Starting from 1951-52, colours become more vivid and two (tri) tone jobs became fashionable. I wonder how this photo would have looked in color!
    That Plymouth is model year 1955, not 1954 (I owned a Belvedere, to me it was by far the most stylish low-end car of 1955) and I doubt it’s a commuter coupé (that would be the Plaza). Because of the chrome trim and windshields surroundings, I think it’s a medium-level Savoy (can’t read the script on the front fender) 2-door sedan. Still, without white walls, it looks fairly plain, and therefore it is just beautiful! It’s a flathead six-banger, identified by the straight shaped ornament at front (V-8s wore a V-shaped one); one of the most durable engines ever made (beats all Ford Flatheads and stovebolt Chevy’s). I’ll bet it’s a manual too. That’s late ’20s mechanicals underneath that fashionable dress!
    I see quite a few Buicks (2 1955 models, a 1952,…). Being an upper medium marque, they were nonetheless very popular and they came in the low-end territory with the Special.
    Another car of interest is a 1955 (maybe 1956?) Packard behind the 1955 Buick and Lincoln, at the right.

  6. The two doors seem to out number the four doors. Now it is almost impossible to find a full-sized two door anywhere.

  7. That the Packard, a 1955 facelift of a 1951 car, looks as contemporary as the Plymouth, an all-
    new car in 1955, is a testament to the designer, Dick Teague. He was very much equal to, albeit very much lower-paid than, Virgil Exner, and all the other major Detroit styling studio directors.

  8. That building in the distance at the upper left looks very familiar. I think it’s in south Philly. It’s not the Naval Hospital.

    Also in the distance is what looks like an elevated roadway. If it’s leading to the Walt Whitman Bridge, this could be south Broad Street near where the stadiums are today.

  9. I have been told that the reason that Studebaker failed was simply that it was ahead of it’s time. The lead photo is a perfect picture showing that this statement might be true. What car stands out from all the rest in this photo. The Studebaker. Far ahead of all the rest.

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