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New York City and San Francisco Post-War Traffic and Parking Issues

Today’s lead image contains a view dated to October 10, 1945, of a traffic tie-up in New York City on East 51st Street between Park and Madison Avenues. The problem began when gasoline became readily available once again to all motorists after the end of World War II.

In this scene, uncaring drivers in the “Big Apple” ignored the 8am to 6pm parking ban on East 51st Street that caused traffic to be cut down to only a single lane. The unfavorable situation caused traffic jams and severely limited commerce in the City.

The image (below) taken ten months later in San Francisco on July 1, 1946, was caused due by a strike of street car and bus drivers. Due to the general lack of transportation into and around the City workers had no choice other than to use automobiles for commuting into and out of the “City by the Bay.”

This scene on Market Street was taken on the second day of the strike and demonstrates how City officials eased the parking problem by allowing motorists to leave cars on the streetcar tracks in the center of some of the widest streets and avenues in town.

Share with us what you find of interest in the expandable photographs courtesy of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

14 responses to “New York City and San Francisco Post-War Traffic and Parking Issues

  1. In the lead photograph, 2nd car parked on the right, is a 1946 CHEVROLET Fleetmaster convertible. Across the street is parked a 1941 BUICK Roadmaster four-door convertible.

    • Made an error stating the CHEVROLET convertible is a ’46, Woody correctly identified the CHEVROLET convertible as a 1942.

  2. Fun to see all the prewar cars in their natural habitat. As kids we argued over which were faster. Everybody said Ford V8s. But truth be know in our town it was a 1942 Buick Roadmaster with compound carburation that was good for 104 mph when driven by a 16 year old kid. Things parents don’t know.

  3. Interesting mix of DeSoto Skywiew and Checker Model A taxi cabs in the NYC view. One imagines the Checker styling was intended to be recognizable from a distance but its angry-looking enough to scare small children! Convertible ’38 Ford and ’42 Chevrolet plus a ’41 Buick convertible sedan add to the interesting cars present.

    San Francisco downtown workers were getting a foretaste of the traffic situation by this strike, it wasn’t going to improve in future years. Appears to be a ’40 Cadillac 60 Special parked at the right.

  4. The lead NY photo with the woman in the striped blouse has a short skirt that will set the trend for style after the war.

  5. I believe that the Chevrolet convertible in the shot is indeed a 1942 – The mail differences between the years ’42 & ’48 are the grills, all similar with minor design tweaks – Also note that the photo was shot in 1945 – Even though the car looks new, I doubt that the ’46 models were available – Also of note: I believe that returning servicemen had some priority for the warmed over new 1946s.

    • Due to rationing of gasoline and tires, and the fact that many young men spent the war years away from home, a lot of cars spent the duration up on blocks. That ’42 convertible may have just come out of storage with very few miles on it.

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