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Rainy Day Smorgasbord of 1930s Vehicles in New York City

Today’s feature image according to the source was taken on September 30, 1939, at the intersection of Broad Street and Exchange Place in New York City. This location is at the heart of the financial district and is next to the New York Stock Exchange building.

Visible in this street scene is a wide variety of late-1920s to ’39 automobiles, along with a mail truck and beer truck filled with barrels of ale. However, the clear standout here from a styling perspective is a rare early Lincoln Zephyr coupe powered by a V-12 engine. The majority of the vehicles appear to be standard everyday cars with the exception of the Lincoln and the long and light-colored sedan at the top right of the photo in front of the traffic signal light.

Share with us what you find of interest in this photograph courtesy of the New York Transportation Museum.

27 responses to “Rainy Day Smorgasbord of 1930s Vehicles in New York City

  1. That long and light colored sedan at the light is a 1940 Mercury tudor, I believe. You can tell it’s not a 1939 Mercury by the wing windows which were first used by Ford in 1940. The beautiful Lincoln Zephyr coupe with white walls behind the Mercury, is a 1939 I believe. Those Zephyrs were beautiful cars but the expanded to 12 cylinder Ford V8 engines were not reliable and were often replaced with V8s.

  2. The Lincoln-Zephyr Coupe grabs and holds my attention…probably a ’37 with the rocket-shaped taillights mounted on short extensions and the shorter vents on the hood sides and a more subtle dip in the bumpers (vs a ’36 model). An amazing spectacle of fluid metal.

  3. Looks like a 1933 Ford Victoria at the bottom of the photo. There is also a 1937 Ford tudor making a right turn at the intersection near the top of the photo. Behind the ’37 Ford there looks to be a 1933-1934 Ford fordor sedan. Several other pre war Fords in the photo as well. Great pre-war car photograph.

    • Seth, that is a 34 victoria, the 33 was a bit shorter. It also has a 34 hood, two handles, the 33 hood had one handle in the middle. There is also a 34 front end showing behind the Lincoln coupe. The one behind the 37 looks to be a 33, the grill top is a little thinner than the 34, hard to tell. Good eye picking out the Victoria.


      • The 1934 Victoria had a trunk lid hinged at the bottom. There are no seams where this could open. This car is a standard Tudor coach (one tail light/no cowl lamps). The back of the Victoria slopes all the way to the bumper.

  4. That photograph has an unreal look to it, sort of like models. It is probably due to the rain.
    Was the Lincoln that is getting all the attention a business coupe? There sure doesn’t seem to be much of a back seat. A lot of engine for a small car.
    Finally, how did one get to the Subway entrance with all the traffic?
    Neat pic.

  5. The most popular body style seems to be the two door sedan, I can only spot one or two convertibles. The only luxury cars are the Lincoln coupe and a Cadillac near the traffic light. Parked at the right is a 1938/39 Hudson coupe.

  6. The 2 door sedan making the right turn towards us is a ’37 Ford. A one year only body I believe . Two cars in from that must be a ’32 Chevrolet with the 4 chrome hood louvers. So many neat cars, but I’m sure that Zephyr 3 window coupe is what I would like in my garage today.

  7. In the 2nd & 3rd photograph, driving to the right, about to enter the intersection is a light colored four-door 1938 GENERAL CAB or ’38 CHEVROLET sedan.

  8. It can’t be a photo from the 30’s…
    Where are the Duesenbergs, Cords and Model As?
    They are the only cars we see in films about that era! 🙂

  9. I used to work on Exchange Place, about a block away, in the early ’80s. Very tight quarters, and very few cars were driven in there by then, except for delivery trucks and the occasional taxi or limo.

  10. As Robbie noted, only one or two open cars. That always strikes me in these historic photos. If you were to assemble a similar collection of surviving vehicles today I bet the preponderance would be open cars.

  11. Is that an entrance to a subway restaurant? That is what my grandson thought when we were visiting NYC a when he was 7 years old!

  12. That large Sedan on the far side of the ’32 chevy, right next to the traffic light has a definite Packard look to it, but the sloped rear trunk lid has me wondering. These are the kinds of photos I, and probably most others really enjoy ! Keep them coming !

  13. WOW Three OLDSMOBILES in this scene. Near the top is a ’35/’36 two door slope back. A ’39 sedan in front of the ’39 Mercury and a ’38 sedan behind the Willys coupe.

  14. My grandparents lived in New York , marrying there in 1919 (my mom was born in ’20) and lived there through the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s when, beginning in 1943, I would visit them fairly frequently – since my parents lived only about a hundred miles away – and then continuing through the 1950’s and into the 60’s. Whenever I see photos such as the black-and-white photo at the head of this post, I always imagine that somewhere, in one of the cars into which we cannot see, or among the pedestrians on the sidewalk, or crossing the rain-slick street, like the man with the umbrella making his way across the intersection in the above photo, I imagine my Grandpapa or my beloved grandmother, who might have been there, at that very intersection, when the photograph was taken. I realize in the immense city that possibility is unlikely, but I know with certainty that they were there. I also know that my grandfather owned and drove a succession of cars from those earlier eras. The first family car I remember was my grandfather’s 1937 Buick in which he would pick us up when we arrived at the train station. My mother had a 1935 or ’36 Ford coupe, my dad a ’41 Packard; any of those automobiles might be there, somewhere in the old photo, along with those people in my family I yearn to catch a distant glimpse of now.

  15. Yes, that’s a subway entrance, and it’s actually in a sidewalk. Is there at least one car in that scene that might have electric wipers, instead of vacuum?

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