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Parking Lot Series: Help Us Identify This Mystery Facility

Many of the images in the Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America photo collection such as this pre-war picture, with the passage of time have lost their background information. We are hopeful that our readers can identify the location of this parking lot based on the appearance of the industrial structures in the background.

One of the oldest automobiles in the photo appears to be a 1928 to ’29 Model “A” Ford sedan located in the middle of the third row in the lead image. The newest cars in this picture appear to date to about 1941, and one of the most interesting vehicles in the scene is the accessory laden Model “A” Ford roadster in the front row. The motorcycle appears to be a 1930 Harley Davidson VL V-twin.

Share with us what you find of interest in this photograph courtesy of the Hagley Museum and Library.

29 responses to “Parking Lot Series: Help Us Identify This Mystery Facility

  1. Up front appears to be a ’40 Dodge Luxury Liner Sedan. Two rows behind it on the extreme left, a ’40 DeSoto next to a likely ’39 Packard.

    For what it’s worth…along the diagonal road in the background, semi-lined with trees, appears to be a white “Park” sign, suggesting whatever is in this area apparently attracts visitors.

    On the large “tank” structure in the distance on the right is lettering…the top row of which partially reads “…dated”. Around its base are a number of cranes that may suggest the (un) loading of ships or barges. The tank itself appears to be loaded from the top via a massive tube structure, implying it’s a powdered material that’s blown up there.

    • Pat, I believe that the car on the extreme left in the third row next to the Packard convertible is a 1940 Plymouth rather than a 1940 DeSoto. A rare error from Old Motor’s supreme classic car identifier? Also, I think that the Packard convertible appears to be a ’36 or ’37 model rather than a ’39.

      • MP, thank you for your corrections! Your comment is more than kind, as I make plenty of errors…though I generally pepper them around a bit more, not make them all in one paragraph.

  2. In the lead picture, three rows back on the far left, is a 1936 PACKARD 120 Convertible Coupé; in the same photograph, first row on the far right, is a four-door 1937 PACKARD One Ten Sedan.

    • …beside your 3rd row Packard is a 1936 Chevrolet Master Sedan, and 1939 Chevrolet Master Deluxe, complete with center front accessory bumper guard.

  3. The Buick next to the motorcycle is wearing a Pennsylvania plate but all the plates on nearby cars look like older style plates (may or may not be PA). Cranes in the background suggest a loading/unloading facility as in waterfront location. My shot in the dark is Philadelphia. I’ve tried enlarging the pic but it gets too grainy to read lettering on buildings.

    • I believe that the car next to the motorcycle is actually a Dodge as I noticed the ram hood ornament on it – even back then those cars were “ram tough”. It looks like the photo is definitely pre WW2 judging by the cars so the large parking structure may or may not be defense related. I would be amazed if anyone could correctly identify this location, other than it appears to be back east somewhere, as there is just too little information provided in the picture to draw any firm conclusions.

  4. In the expandable picture, in the lower left corner, is a 1937 PONTIAC. Can’t tell the model. To the right of this ’37 PONTIAC is a 1940 CHEVROLET Coupé [non-Master 85 model].

  5. Lots of Fords and MoPars. On the second row, far right side is a ’40 Ford sedan, next to a ’40, perhaps, Chrysler station wagon.

  6. What’s the convertible, the sixth car from the left in the second row (between an early 30s coupe and a mid-late 20s sedan)?

    Looks pretty sporty…lower than the rest and reasonably high-end.
    Packard, Stutz?

    • Compare it to the ’36 Packard 120 convertible coupe a row back, its likely a ’36-37 Packard 120 or ’37 115 Six. Those were convertibles with cast chromed framed flat windshields and vent windows. Only other possibilities are the A-Body ’33-’34 Chevrolet and Pontiac convertible coupes.

  7. Im going to take a wild guess and say that part of New Jersey around Bayonne,Patterson,Elizabeth,etc.
    I have read that that area has the largest concentration of Industry in the US.A lot of oil refineries and tank farms too.

  8. I’m impressed with the display of change a decade makes. Note the Ford, (approximately 1930) the car in the middle (Buick? 1935?) and the Dodge of 1940.

  9. The car in the third row immediately above the ’33 Dodge coupe with sidemounts in the second row appears to be a ’30-’31 Graham Eight with peaked chrome radiator shell and hood doors.

  10. The fact that almost all the cars are facing the same way, with half of them apparently having been backed in argues for a level of driving skill long lost.
    I wonder if the location is parking for workers or a long or short term attraction. I hope someone recognizes it.

    • —Thought: the first two rows of cars contain a convertible with the top down. Who would long-term storage a car with the top down? I am guessing that the first two rows are people who are working somewhere near there, and the other, very closely parked together cars are in long term storage.

  11. I’ve found that you can still get into the driving seat of your car even if it is parked very close to the next one, providing yours has running boards. That useful accessory is not only good for sitting on during a picnic; also the inconsiderate cannot park close enough to prevent you opening the driver’s door when you want to leave. So take your pre-war car shopping, in the UK anyway where the parking lot spaces are never wide enough!

  12. Didn’t Sinclair Oil lose the Sinclair name briefly in the 1930s, known then as Consolidated? Could that be the name on the tower in the background? Just a thought.

  13. Its the parking lot for the 1939-1940 World’s Fair in New York, located where Shea Stadium would later be built. Looks like Queensboro Iron Works building on the top right.

  14. I see at least 3 model A Fords. How come no one has attempted to state the year? I’m guessing one is a ’28 or’29 then I think one is a 1930 and one a 1931 and I’m not even a Ford guy.

  15. I don’t believe this is a public parking lot. There are no empty spaces and the cars are parked too close together and there are no parking space lines on the pavement. I think this must be a storage lot of some kind.

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