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Philadelphia 1953: Mid-Afternoon Traffic on Broad Street

A number of similar surviving images containing views of traffic in large cities were taken for street and highway departments to document traffic patterns for later study in an effort to ease congestion. This photo according to source materials was photographed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at the intersection of Broad and Poplar Streets in mid-afternoon on July 18, 1953.

If enough time is taken to study this picture, an interesting detail included in it will be noticed. The vast majority of the automobiles on Broad Street are postwar, and Ben J. Franks’ Used Car lot is visible on the left-hand side of the thoroughfare.

Please share with us what you find of interest in these photographs courtesy of the Temple University Libraries.

Over one-hundred and twenty five other pictures containing traffic jams and congestion can be seen in earlier posts here on The Old Motor.

38 responses to “Philadelphia 1953: Mid-Afternoon Traffic on Broad Street

  1. Is the guy in the Dodge towing that Pontiac? No one is going out around it, so must be. But why backwards? Sure hope the Pontiac steering wheel is lashed securely!

    • My grandparents owned Standard Tire Company on N. Broad pictured here. Iwas born 4 years after this was taken. I would like to k ow the adress of the store as I can not read it in the pocture

  2. A pretty nice 1946 Ford super deluxe tudor sedan front and center. Looks to be in good shape for being 7 years old in this photo.

  3. If my memory is correct, this picture was taken when parking was allowed in the center of Broad Street. I believe that the William Penn statue and city hall are in the background which indicates that the picture is taken facing South.

  4. After studying for the detail” for a half hour ,I’ll go for the obvious choice of the traffic pattern of three coming and two going away, which may be changed at the AM/PM drive time.

    • I guess I got fooled as there appeared as though there was a driver in the Dodge, I missed the car in the opposite direction…….good detail feature David !

    • That might explain why the car behind the Dodge was pointed the other way. Center parking was also common in many small towns in Nebraska where it was usually angle parking. The only town I know of today that has center parking is Oxford, which switched from angle center parking to parallel with angle parking at the curbs.

  5. When I looked at this the first time, my comment was to be “No one is parking in the center”. Having grown up near Philadelphia I’m aware parking was allowed. I did not notice no driver in the Buick. I also did not notice the Pontiac in the center lane facing the “wrong” direction.

    Great one, David! Thanks

  6. Agree that the lead Buick is a 1953. I seem to make out a “V” in the hood ornament. ’53 was the transition year; Special still had the straight 8 engine, all other models had the new “nail head” V8. V8 cars had a V in center of the hood ornament while straight 8’s had a vertical bar as the ’50-’52’s. This car has 3
    Ventiports as Buick called them but everybody said portholes. So must be a Super since Century and Roadmaster had the new V8 and 4 portholes.

  7. What a crazy parking plan! Bet more than a few doors (or people) got smashed making the dash from the car to the sidewalk!

  8. Driving toward the camera are three DeSOTO automobiles, best seen in the 2nd picture:
    1.) a 1950 DeLuxe Club Coupé behind the CADILLAC Series 62 Sedan in the foreground left.
    2.) another 1950, hard to determine the model, in front of the Savoy Plaza canopy.
    3.) a 1952 , also hard to determine the model, next to a 1950 BUICK.

  9. Headed away on the left on the inside lane appears to be a ’41 Packard 110 sedan. Center of the street parking must have been a nightmare to parallel park in and exit from. Not to mention, dangerous to exit one’s car during rush hour.

  10. Pic #1, two-toned car at top right headed away is a Packard ( rear window shape is the give-away ) but I am not sure of year, early 40’s?

  11. I think the light colored Cadillac on the left is a 52. Check out the headlight rims with the beak over the lamp and the Cadillac emblem on the grill piece under the headlamp.

  12. Great shot – Looks to me like a warm smoggy summer day in 1953 in Los Angeles – Note the driver’s windows down – Not many cars equipped with air conditioning …

    Charlie D.

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