An Entertaining & Informative Vintage Automobile Internet Magazine

Parking Lot Series: Large Chicago Loop Parking Lot

Today’s “Parking Lot Series” feature photo is a view looking south at a parking lot that was located on the north side of the Art Institute of Chicago located at 111 South Michigan Avenue in the Loop.

The Borg-Warner building is visible across the Avenue from the Institute. On the right-hand side of the image behind the parking facility is a train yard and tracks running north and south.

The picture of this lot containing hundreds of cars was taken circa 1962, and an enlargement of the foreground (below) gives an excellent and detailed view of the vehicles closest to the camera.

Share with us what you find of interest in the photograph taken by Clarence Sorensen courtesy of the University of Wisconsin Libraries.

22 responses to “Parking Lot Series: Large Chicago Loop Parking Lot

  1. In the foreground center is a two-tone 1958 to ’60 RAMBLER American, along with newer and older RAMBLER cars throughout the parking lot.

  2. Newest car(s) I spot are `62s, like the Impala SS cvt. in the third row facing us. Right next to the Chevy is one I really like, and they’re fairly rare: a `58 Mercury Park Lane 4dr. HT.

  3. I never thought of Chicago as being much of a market for convertibles. Yet there are 6 or 7 rag tops just in the first four rows of the top pic. That’s a higher ratio than we have here in Calif. Even today.

    • Yeah, this was before the surge in foreign, mainly Japanese cars, hit our shores. A lot of VW’s and a smattering of MG’s, probably a bit of brand loyalty among those GI’s coming back from Europe. Bikes (none here) were already starting to turn from US and British Iron to Japanese led by Honda, but still limited to smaller bikes. Datsun entered the US market in 1958 with the 310 and in 1960 with the Patrol, but none are seen here. Toyota entered in 1957 with the Toyopet (guffaw) Crown, but that was not very popular and again, we see none of them here. 1973 was probably the big turning point and a view of this lot from that year would tell a different story.

  4. In spite of the midwest winters and ice melting chemicals on the road, I don’t see much/any rust on these cars. I would think that you could spot problems on the light colors at least. Owning my first autos in Milwaukee, rust was usually pretty well established in the 3rd or 4th years of use.

    • Hi Lew, I grew up in Milwaukee as well, and I don’t remember a lot of salt use in the 60’s, like when this photo was taken. The old man swore by Firestone “Town and Country” snow tires on his Oldsmobiles or wagons, and I don’t ever remember getting stranded, although, unlike today, if it was too bad out, you just didn’t go anywhere. The 70’s, when suburban travel began to increase, is when salt really hit the scene, and rust was next.

    • Severe rust which would be visible in a summer photo at this distance is something only seen on cars that are 20+ years old. Most of the rust on Chicago cars is not where you see it, but where you don’t.

      That said I think the white falcon closest to the camera has the beginnings of classic lower 1/4 panel rust. That looks like more than wheel well shadow.

  5. In the first aisle going back, in the enlargement, the row of cars on the right that starts with a VW bug convertible with whitewalls, looks like maybe car 11 or so as you count back, next to another VW bug, it looks like a 63 full size Pontiac backed into the spot.

  6. Ron, When I worked for a new car dealer in 1962, I remember being told that 13% of new cars were convertibles. Seems high so maybe someone here car confirm that.

  7. I see a 56 Cadillac convertible about five cars back in the row fronted by the dark, white walled, VW convertible, and the fins of a black or dark colored 59 Caddy too, looking massive, about ten cars back on the opposite side of the same row.

  8. Oops- missed the 58 Cadillac in the same row as the 59, and a 60 in the rows to the right. Lots of great cars in this shot- the 59 Olds, 60 Pontiac, 59 Chevy, and so many others. Thanks for posting it.

  9. No older car than the 1953 Chevy (next to the Volvo)? If this is in 1962, it strikes me that people didn’t keep their cars for a long time. Bad quality or planned obsolescence? Or both?

    • Ya know, I don’t think there was any planned obsolescence at play. In 62 I knew several families that had older post-war vehicles, many with over 100,000 miles. I had our ’56 Chevy passed down to me at 113,000 miles in 1967. However, cars just got better once past all that catch-up time from 1945, a lot of it driven by some pass down from military developments. Power steering, A/C, power brakes, better glass tech, and all of that great engine development! Small block V-8’s, major move to OHV, improved lube and ignition systems, automatic transmissions, coupled with more women driving! Pretty interesting era! One reason these shots are of interest!

    • I also wondered why no one mentioned the Chevy Corvair. Growing up my Dad had one and on an occasion or two I got to drive it and enjoyed doing so!!

Leave a Reply

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