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Parking Lot Series: Hempstead Lake State Park

Almost sixty-three years ago on July 1, 1956, a Long Island Daily Press photographer took this image of the parking lot at the Hempstead Lake State Park. The facility is located thirty miles east of New York City in southern Long Island. The vehicles in this view date from the late-1940s to the mid-1950s.

Share with us what you find of interest in this Parking Lot Series photograph courtesy of the Queens Library.

25 responses to “Parking Lot Series: Hempstead Lake State Park

  1. Starting with Ford in 1952, the cars have single pane windshields; and GM followed by 1954. Looking out across the parking lot it is easy to differentiate the cutoff dates between the 1940’s and later model 1950’s.

    • An interesting observation, and one that I had not been fully cognizant before. Being a long time Hudson enthusiast I happen to know that they were the last of the major auto makers to convert to a single pane windshield in ‘54, the final year that they were in Detroit. But it wasn’t Ford who introduced that new windshield, rather it was Nash with their novel Airflight design in 1949. This was followed by Studebaker and Packard in ’51, Ford in ’52, then GM and Chrysler in ’53 (note the ’53 Pontiac in the photo) and finally Hudson shortly before they merged with Nash to become AMC. So now you know the whole low down – which I didn’t before your post – and thus I thank you.

    • One-piece windshield in 1949: Nash, as mentioned by Morgan, as well as the Lincoln Cosmopolitan.
      In 1950: Cadillac …also Buick Roadmaster and Super, Olds 98 and phased in on the 88

      • That’s definitely a more complete picture than I could possibly have given. I didn’t bother to check all the various GM models and never knew about the Lincoln Cosmopolitan – the other Lincoln, the Junior EL Series model, continued to have split windshields up through ’51. You have to wonder if Nash or Lincoln came up with the same idea independently, or if one of those two companies borrowed that new idea from the other one. I doubt that anyone will know the correct answer to that question.

      • Morgan, I believe the ’49 “Junior” Lincoln was almost the first Lincoln to have a split windshield…of course , before that the glass was flat. I say “almost” since beginning at least by 1930 there were some in-house and one-off Lebaron, Judkins and Dietrich custom built Lincoln models on the KB chassis with V’d, split windshields. Those designs weren’t so much to achieve any aerodynamic benefits (both the radiator and grill were all but bolt upright), but to reduce glare from reflected headlights from cars following.
        The technology just wasn’t readily available or practical for large panes of curved auto glass.
        As to who thought of it first, I’m sure the concept was pondered and hoped for by many…Chrysler had it on the five or six Thunderbolt convertible coupes they built in ’41. Apart from its retractable metal roof, the body and windshield of the Thunderbolt somewhat resembles the ’49 Nash.

  2. In the lead photograph, 1st row on far left, behind the 1953 PONTIAC Chieftain, is a 1946 to ’48 BUICK, either a Roadmaster or Super.

  3. Two Oldsmobiles with bobos, looking so sad. Late 40s chevrolet with broken spring in door latch, a real bummer . Worse if it was driver’s door.

    • I think that late 40s car with the drooping door latch is a Pontiac, as it says “Silver Streak” on the hood.

      • The “Silver Streak” badge on the side of the hood marks it as a Pontiac, 1948 model year. Since it says “Silver Streak” and not “Silver 8 Streak”, it has a 6-cylinder engine.

        • Interesting that you should mention that, as I am a long time fan of the T.V. show “Highway Patrol” and in one of the early episodes entitled “Reformed Criminal” right at the beginning of the show there is a close up of a ’46-’48 Pontiac driving along the freeway of which can plainly be seen the words “Silver 8 Streak” on its side. The car then blows a tire and goes off of an embankment, but when the driver crawls out the wrecked vehicle it has turned into a ’49-’51 Chevrolet fastback. But that’s 1950’s television for you!

  4. In the expandable picture, fourth row back & on the far right, is a two-door 1949 BUICK Sedanet, unsure if it’s a Roadmaster or Super.

    In the same photograph, fifth row back & a few cars to the left of the above ’49 BUICK Sedanet, is a 1950 BUICK Special Tourback Sedan [with split windshield and three pane rear window].

  5. In the lead photograph I see a nice looking 1955 Mercury Monterey parked in the front row. It can be distinguished from the similar looking ’56 model by the lack of the “Big M” insignia on its hood. It appears to be sandwiched between a 1953 Pontiac Chieftain on its left, and a ‘46-‘48 Chrysler coupe on its right. Also present on that row is post war Futuramic styled Oldsmobile. Strange how none of those cars have license plates placed on their front bumpers – I thought that it would have been required by law by the mid 1950’s.

    • Morgan,
      In Michigan there are no front plates. They have not been used for over 50 years as far as I can recall. Several other states also do not use front tags. l’m sure others will reply as well telling us which other states don’t have front plates.

      • Thanks I never knew that. I’ve only lived in two states for most of my life, Massachusetts and California, and since they always had plates present on both bumpers I figured that all the other states did as well. Massachusetts in fact, as well as many other states located on the East Coast, have been doing so ever since the days when they were made out of porcelain by inmates in prison.

  6. With this being taken in July of 1956 I am surprised that we don’t see several 55 – 56 Chevys. I thought they were very popular at this time in history. I can not find example of them in this photo.

  7. The first one piece curved windshield appeared in 1934. It was used by Chrysler on their top of the line Airflow. The
    CW weighed up to 5935 lbs. and cost over $5,000, depression dollars. It came in a 146 inch wheelbase and only 67 were
    ever made, though they came in 4 models. I know that a few survived and could only guess what one would have to pay to replace a windshield if you were unlucky when following a gravel truck!

    • I thought that windshield was only used on the limousines, of which they made 8 (?).

      Studebaker used their first one-piece curved windshield in 1941 on some models of 2dr sedan coupes, Commander, President, and Skyway. The in ’47 with their new postwar styling, business coupes, Starlight coupes, and convertibles got a one-piece curved windshield. In ’51 all body styles converted to the same one-piece curved windshields that had been used since ’47.

  8. When I moved to Houston, Texas in 1963 there was a story circulating that one of the local ranchers on whose ranch oil had been discovered had the windshield of his car ground to his eyeglass prescription so he wouldn’t need to wear his eye glasses when he was driving. It was reported that the man delighted in picking up hitch-hikers who very quickly became queasy from looking out the windshield of his moving car. Too far-fetched to be true, the story made the rounds, especially among those of us who regularly hitched rides down to the beach at Galveston.

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