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Philadelphia Traffic Jam: Ridge Avenue East Falls, Pennsylvania

Today’s feature press photo contains a view of Ridge Avenue and Darien Street located in East Falls, a neighborhood located on the west side of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The image was taken during rush hour on November 2, 1954.

Other than the Cadillac visible in the left-center of the picture many of the automobiles appear to be owned by working class individuals. Four trucks are visible in the scene and the most interesting one on the far-left that seems to be operated by a junk man.

Share with us what you find of interest or can add to this post. The photograph is courtesy of PhillyHistory.

33 responses to “Philadelphia Traffic Jam: Ridge Avenue East Falls, Pennsylvania

  1. In the 3rd lane of traffic from the right, 2nd car back, is a dark 1950 BUICK Special Jetback Sedan [in front of the ’54 CADILLAC 62 Sedan].

  2. Looks like a rainy day in Pilly back in `54. Right in front of us is one of Plymouth’s fairly new ‘all-steel’ 2dr. wagons from `52. Five cars back on the far right appears to be a `50 Cadillac. Immediately behind the scrap-picker’s wagon on the left is a `47 Pontiac coupe.

  3. On the right, 1st lane of traffic, 5th car back, is a 1950 BUICK Super with “up graded” chrome molding under the head light.

  4. They are stopped in the rain so the windshield wipers are working. When they start moving, the vacuum operated wipers on most of these cars will stop – just when you needed them.

    • yeah, my ’59 Ford had those and when passing trucks on the highway at speed, the effect was somewhat like taking a dive when water skiing! Great innovation , at least in the 20’s, but keeping the beast running until the 60’s was criminal. Also, as noted, this was 1954 before the deluge of really ‘new’ cars came on the scene, much more than just cosmetic updates! (and we have the intro of the 356A!) Even the Lincoln looked nice, before the disaster of 1956….ugh.

  5. I was going to comment on all the vacuum wipers hissing away too. Can’t you just hear them? Pshsst-ssstt, pshsst-ssstt. Good thing most of these vehicles were stick shift, so at least you’d get a wipe in between shifts. Smack in the middle, I see a Willys wagon,,,also with vacuum wipers. It’s amazing we survived at all.

  6. The photographer must have been on top of a car, and the guy in the light-colored and be-skirted Chevy is “mugging” at him.

  7. The ’50 Buick in front of the Caddy does not have a radio. No antenna over the windshield. The ’50 Buick nearly next to it on the right side of it does have an antenna over the windshield. The good old days when you listed a car in the classified ads for sale and listed if it had R & H. Radio and heater. Accessories back then.

    • My folks had several Roadmasters in the 48-51 vintage. Always black (don’t ask me why). With the windshield antenna, they always reminded me as a kid of cockroaches.

  8. It surprises me to see the 1950 Buick Jetback sedan, although it’s the bottom-line Special, has no chrome surroundings at the windshield, only the divider. Even cheaper and older cars like the Plymouths and Chevy’s in this pic have it. Come to think of it: the 1952-1954 era Lincoln Cosmopolitans, being upper-class cars, had only ‘half’ chrome trim, only at the bottom and top of the windshield, while Capri windshields were fully chrome-laden… Strange decisions, a matter of economy or style?

    • That Buick looks like a “stripper” and could be a municipal vehicle. There driver’s door bears a small seal, with lettering painted onto the door, just below the window.

      • Bright window and body moldings and front fender badges were seen on Special Deluxe but not on Special, priced as low as $1909 for a model 43 (58,700 sold) in hopes of pushing Plymouth out of third place in sales.

        GM expanded the Special model range from two models in 1949 to seven models in 1950 to try to do so.

        Best-selling Buicks? $1983 Special Deluxe (41D) sedan (141,396) and $2212 Super (52) sedan (114,745).

        Best-selling Plys? $1629 Special Deluxe sedan (234,084) and $1603 Special Deluxe Club Coupe (99,361).

        And totals?

        For 1949: #1 Ford (1,118,303), #2 Chevrolet (1,010,013), #3 Plymouth (520,385), and #4 Buick (324,276).

        For 1950: #1 Chevrolet (1,498,590), #2 Ford (1,208,912), #3 Buick (667,826), and #4 Plymouth (610,954).

        It worked!

  9. Question I have is where is the photograper standing? Too far into the street for a building shot? Or am I not thinking theism…

  10. The flat bed side boards on the truck on the left could use some help. Would not want to be next to that load of scrape in my Buick Special, if I had one.

    • Indeed that scrap is on the verge of causing a bad scrape… I think that truck may belong to Fred Sanford before he moved out west…

  11. Not about cars or trucks but it does have wheels. On the far left in front of the building the signage AARONS is a push trash can with tall spoke wheels on it and a push broom sticking out of it. Does anyone know if that would be part of the city maintenance department or a private rig used back then. I wonder what it was called . I remember seeing these in catoons back in the day .

  12. Frank, Like AML stated the Chevy you mentioned is a 1950 or 51 standard Olds *88 4 door. It’s a lightweight Chevrolet body on a Oldsmobile chassis, The new 303 C.I. Rocket 88 V/8 Engine and all. Considered by many to be the first factory Muscle Car.

  13. David,

    Is a Philadelphia traffic jam akin to a Philadelphia lawyer… or am I just slow on the uptake and you meant that with the title?

  14. Follow the right side sidewalk all the way back to the next intersection. Is that a tiny white car at the corner (in front of the speeding Chevy) bisected by the pole? Like a bugeye Sprite or something?

    • It’s almost too small (hard as that may be to believe) to be a Bugeye and besides they weren’t introduced until 1958. But Google up some images of a French Rovin D2. It fits the time period, but the location…. wow, what are the chances?

    • I’m almost certain that is one of the Harley 3-wheelers popular back then. Detroit Police had a bunch of them. They were used mainly for parking enforcement. I guess with the crime scene being a whole lot tamer, they had to find busy works for the cops. Parking tickets are now written by civilians in the municipal parking enforcement division.

  15. Looks like a ’50 Chrysler 6 behind that Pontiac coupe. Also I formerly posted a comment about the vacuum wipers but I don’t see it. So I’ll repeat it here. That 1952 Plymouth (Savoy) Suburban doesn’t have to worry about ‘stopped vacuum wipers on hills, because it was the 1st of the low priced 3 to have ELECTRIC wipers…in 1951.

  16. The 4th car back (behind the Oldsmobile, Buick and Cadillac) looks to be a 1953 Dodge. Dad bought a new ’53 Dodge D44, stick shift, V8 “hemi” to move us from Michigan to California in 1953. The engine was terrible. Needed major overhaul at about 30,000 miles and again at about 60,000 and 90,000 miles. I read years later that the iron used in the engine was too soft and simply wore out at those mileages.

  17. David, do you have any photos of high school parking lots in the 1930s or ’40s? It would be interesting to see what was done by the kids to customize cars back then.

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