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Clark Edsel, Cites Service and Valley Street Views Lawrence, Massachusetts

Today’s featured images were taken on Valley Street in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1958 to document structures in the city before urban renewal began there in the late-1950s following the decline of the textile industry. The City is located in the northeastern section of the State on the Merrimack River that was utilized for its water power to run a number of large woolen mills constructed there in the 1850s.

Share with us what you find of interest in these photos courtesy of the Digital Commonwealth.

  • The left-hand side of the Lawrence Auto Station located at 85 Valley Street. The right-hand side of the Garage’s parking lot is visible in the lead image. 

  • Clark Edsel Sales Inc. located at 130 Valley Street.

  • Parking lot at an unknown address on Valley Street.


34 responses to “Clark Edsel, Cites Service and Valley Street Views Lawrence, Massachusetts

  1. In the lead picture, foreground, is a tired 1954 LINCOLN Capri Convertible that’s had some modifications. Parked in the lot across the street is a 1954 LINCOLN Capri Special Custom Coupé.

  2. In the 2nd picture [1st expandable photograph], parked in front of the City Service station, is a two-door 1957 PONTIAC Chieftain Catalina.

  3. My guesses, 2nd pic, L. to R.: 1952 Ford Country Squire, 1958 Plymouth, 1957 Chevy; other side of the street: 1956 Plymouth stationwagon, 1955 Ford, 1954 Chevy, 1956 Olds; Parking lot behind: 1953 Caddie, 1957 Chevy.

  4. In the Lead Photo, a pair of Lincolns…a ’53 Capri convertible with extended rear quarter panels and a black ’54 Capri hardtop in the Cities Service lot. On the street, a ’54 Pontiac Chieftain Special 2-door sedan and farther to the right a ’58 Plymouth Belvedere Sport Hardtop.

    In Item 1 of 3, this side a ’57 Bel Air sedan, a ’57 Plymouth Belvedere sedan and a ’54 Country Squire. Other side a ’57 Pontiac Chieftain coupe, a ’53 Chevy Two-Ten sedan, a ’56 Ford Customline Fordor an a ’56 Plymouth Plaza. In the lot a ’52 Cadillac coupe and a ’57 Chevy Two-Ten.

    In Item 2 of 3, in the lot, a ’58 Edsel Ranger 4-door Hardtop and the rear of a ’55 Mercury. In the street, a ’55 Ford Ranch wagon and a ’54 Plymouth Belvedere.

    In Item 3 of 3, a ’53 Olds Ninety Eight and a ’56 Mercury Custom convertible with a ’54 Olds peeking in from the right

  5. Opening shot, beat up Lincoln conv. sporting a Connie kit. Across the street in the gas station is a beautiful black Lincoln hardtop. Second picture shows 1957 Plymouth, Pontiac , and two 57 Chevrolets.

  6. In the first photo I love the customized Lincoln Convertible with the extended 1/4 panels. The poor condition shows that it was three or four years old and not well cared for when this photo was taken.

  7. I find the rather tired `53 Lincoln Capri cvt. interesting in the first image, as it shows a ‘customization’ of the car with extended quarter panels to incorporate the cont. kit. Seen this on another `53 that was a sedan, and wondered why anyone would pay that much extra when a simply bumper extension would suffice for the sme purpose? After a few years, when rust started you could always tell where the welds were; it looked tacky.
    The last image is much like the first, in that the `53 Olds 98 sedan is minus its skirts too; seen this alot in the snow belt when snow tires had to be put on. People simply left the skirts off until spring to make it easier to dig the car out should it get stuck in the snow. Owners of `59-`64 Cadillacs did that alot here in Nebraska as I recall.

    • Will, I recall seeing in Minneapolis that winter-long removal of fender skirts on many Cadillacs…not only for snow tires but also for installation of tire chains which were particularly popular in the first half of the ‘50’s. Once on relatively clear pavement, they sounded like sleigh bells.
      It was particularly jarring on ’50-’53 Cadillacs where the fender skirts extended well forward and aft of the rear tire, leaving a nearly yard-long gap on the bottom of the quarter panel….it wasn’t at all pretty.

      • 1950-’53 Coupe de Villes and 60 Specials looked particularly bad without their long fender skirts. Same was true in the 1960’s for Olds 98, Buick Electras and Cadiilacs.

    • One day in the mid-1950’s a sudden evening snow storm in Northern NJ stranded a group of visitors at our home. They all spent the night and I clearly remember helping my Dad and a couple of his friends install chains on two or three cars in our driveway the next morning.

  8. Urban renewal is right…. there’s nothing in these photos left. Can’t find even one of the buildings. Much of valley street itself no longer exists.

    • Brent, those flats in the first image above the store fronts appear to be early turn-of-the-century; or very likely earlier. And real fire-traps. Back in the 50s, no one wanted to re-hab those like they would now, so just as well they were torn down. When an entire city area of old structures like this get torn down & renewal takes place, it’s always tough to remember what & where places were back then. Probably all glass high-rise offices now, etc.

  9. In the first picture, to the left of the beautiful black Lincoln, looks to be another Lincoln. At least the roofline and glass seem to be the same.

  10. Always surprised how popular 2 doors were, even the Ranch Wagon. IDK, looks like a pretty lackluster dealer and only one Edsel. The truck is a 48-50 Ford F1 with big bumper, for pushing. Imagine the damage you’d do to a new car with that today. Bottom pic, just everyday workers cars, nothing fancy.

    • The Ford truck is an F2, I suggest. Note it has 3 stake sockets on each side, I suggest an F1 has only stake sockets at the corners.

  11. It looks like urban renewal couldn’t come too soon. Most of the tall wood buildings appear to be about ready to fall down of their own volition.

    In photo 2, in the showroom beyond the ’57 Chevy 210 there appears to be an antique coupe of 1928 to 1930 vintage. Or is it my imagination?


    • In 1960 the Edsel Comet was introduced which was soon shortened down to just the Comet and sold really well, far better than the Edsel ever did. In 1962 it was amalgamated with Mercury and became better known as the Mercury Comet and sold even better. So I would imagine that most of those dealers eventually became Mercury dealers and did fairly well for themselves and particularly after the line was expanded with new models such as the Meteor and the Cougar. I’m surprised to see just one stand alone Edsel sitting in the dealer’s lot, maybe the photo was taken shortly after they had been introduced and they were selling real well, or maybe the showroom was full of Edsels that weren’t selling very well and that one was in for repairs or something like that.

      • The Comet was NEVER marketed as an Edsel. Comet was introduced as just COMET and marketed by Mercury dealers – debuting March 17, 1960. That was five months after the Edsel went out.

        The initial makeup of Edsel dealers encompassed approximately 80% of them as standalone Edsel dealerships. The remaining 20% in smaller markets were Mercury-Edsel, Mercury-Edsel-Lincoln, Edsel-Lincoln, Ford-Mercury-Edsel; Ford, Mercury, Edsel & Lincoln or Ford-Edsel combos. This number had dropped to approximately only 30% standalone Edsel dealers by the 1959 Edsel intro on October 31, 1958 and by the time the 1960 Edsel was introduced, there were only 59 standalone Edsel dealers remaining!

  12. After the disappointing 1958 sales season, wonder if Clark stuck with Edsel or switched to Rambler? Stand-alone Edsel dealers were all there were the first year, a less-than-brilliant marketing idea done with the expectation the public would perceive the Edsel as really all-new, not associated to any other FoMoCo make. Didn’t take the public more than a few seconds to recognize it as a dolled-up restyled Ford or Mercury.

    Later in 1958, as Edsel dealers dropped their franchises, district sales managers went hat-in-hand to inform Ford and Lincoln-Mercury dealers that they would now be granted an Edsel franchise. If it wasn’t bad enough to have endured a bad 1958 sales year for their own Fords, Mercurys and Lincolns, but had a new competitor selling into the same price ranges with a car nearly identical to their own and recognized as such, now they were expected to welcome it to their operations. Needless to say, Edsel got short shrift from many dealers who didn’t see any reason to promote the car they were initially denied.

    One local dealer typically parked his ’59 Edsel demonstrator in the second line with the used cars and used it as a loaner car for those good customers whose cars were in the shop. He grudgingly accepted his ’60 Ranger six cylinder sedan, then promptly sold it to a local taxi company for wholesale. He didn’t handle any more Edsels and removed all Edsel promotion materials and signs. Apparently during 1958, the stand-alone Edsel dealer had diverted a number of his good customers, so animosity toward the make was natural.

    • Clark was a one year only Edsel dealership selling the car from E-Day September 4, 1957 until about the middle of July 1958. The dealer himself had been a former Packard dealer. I actually now own the set of Edsel tools which originated from this dealership

  13. …the decline of the textile industry. This is why I never cared when people in the South lost their jobs in the textile industry a couple of decades later.

    All those jobs in the North went south. My mom lost 2 jobs in the late 40s and early 50s because of this. When the textile companies moved out the the US and there was the wailing and gnashing of teeth down south when jobs went to Asia or Mexico, I just had a shoulder shrug and thought “Welcome to the club, feels great doesn’t it?”.

  14. I remember that episode of The Munsters TV show when Grandpa Munster was reciting all the great disasters to happen to Mankind
    The Bubonic Plague….The Titanic…The Edsel….

  15. The rear extension on the 1953 Lincoln (top picture) was not some clever home-made conversion… It was in fact a factory option that was priced a hefty $2000! The cars were built in the Wayne, Michigan assembly plant. Prior to painting, the bodies were sent to a nearby body shop where the extended rear was added. They were then returned to the factory to be painted and final assembled. A total of 560 1954 Lincolns received this modification and only nine are known to remain in existence.
    There were 50 1953 Lincolns that also received this treatment and only one remains. Now look again at this picture: here you see one of the only 50 1953 cars made this way! I don’t know how this was divided between sedans, coupés or convertibles, as this modification could be applied to any body style… That makes it even more strange that this owner didn’t seem to care much for his car.
    Personally, I like it very much because it blends beautifully with the rest of the body, unlike most other continental kits; they always looked ‘added on’ (and they were)…

  16. Judging by the dings on the passenger side rear quarter of both the Lincoln and the Pontiac across the road, I would think that both cars belong to the same driver.

  17. That Edsel building looks like the shop to me, not a new car showroom, thus only one ’58 Edsel in sight. Not all Edsel dealers were exclusives, even upon introduction in 1958. Ben Cowan Ford-Edsel in Indio CA is one exception I know of, and I believe they kept the franchise until the end (even into calendar 1960). The Comet was never built or sold as an Edsel Comet. The car that became the Comet (for 1960) and Mercury Comet (1961 on) was originally planned to be a new small Edsel but that never happened.

    • Believe it or not that is the whole dealership. I thought the same thing when I first saw it but that was all there was to it… Comet actually became Mercury starting with the 1962 model.

  18. The Lincoln convertible with the continental spare tire modification appears to have had the trunk lid shortened rather than the fenders extended. Something like what was done by Packard in the 1953-54 Caribbeans.

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