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Gridlock in the City of Brotherly Love

Philadelphia is known as the “City of Brotherly Love” and was named by William Penn, who combined two Greek words Philos (love) and Adelphos (brother). The City’s grid much like those of Boston, and New York City was laid out in 1682 by Penn’s surveyor Thomas Holme. What worked well for the horse and buggy didn’t for the automobile by the mid-1910s when automobile use became somewhat commonplace, and the population had grown.

The lead image and the enlargeable version of it (below) taken in the mid-1950s at an unknown location in the Philadelphia Metropolitan area includes cars, trucks, and streetcars. The second image (below) dating to the mid-1960s includes four lanes of traffic caught in a traffic jam somewhere in the City.

Please share with us what you find of interest in these photographs courtesy of the Temple University Libraries.

29 responses to “Gridlock in the City of Brotherly Love

    • And right next to that Oldsmobile is a nice looking two door 1953 Pontiac Chieftian. A good year for that make as far a styling goes and sales too with over 400,000 models sold.

      • MP , here we’re looking at a Custom Catalina (or perhaps the Deluxe Catalina). Either way is was one of Pontiac’s first use of the Catalina nameplate first for two-door hardtops and then a complete range of models which would last for years. The Chieftain designation was used on sedan body styles. A neighbor had a ’54 model with leather seats that I ogled over as a five year old at the time.

        • That’s nice to know Bob but unfortunately its incorrect as the Chieftain name appeared on all Pontiac models in 1953. The car is probably a Pontiac Chieftain two door hardtop Catalina as Pat W mentions a few columns down. I personally like the ’53 a lot more than the ’54 as far as styling goes, and particularly when one considers the new Star Chief which was too elongated a car in my opinion.

  1. Gotta love the sliding sunroof on the VW bug next to the ice cream truck. Also, note the small oval rear window on the bug.

  2. I’m struck by the car to the left of the Pontiac in the lead picture. It looks like it started out as a ’49 to ’52 Chevrolet, but someone’s been doing some customizing. I’ve never seen that two-tone paint combo, and the taillights have been upgraded.

    Or is it something else, and I’ve just misidentified it?

  3. In the Lead Photo or Item 1of 2 I see a ‘555 Plymouth Plaza wagon ahead of a ’53 Pontic Chieftain Catalina and a ’50 Olds 88 with trip suggestive of a ’53 Ninety Eight. Up ahead of the dark ’47 or ’48 Chevy Fleetline Aerosedan appears to be a ’52 or ’53 Packard Patrician sedan just behind a ’57 Plymouth. There could be another Packard, possibly a ’52 200 to the left of a ’53 Mercury, seen on the extreme right edge

    In Item 2 of 2 a two-tone ’56 Buick Special or Century Riviera at the next corner. There appears to be a Dauphine entering from the right along with a ’48-ish Cadillac repurposed hearse. It’s following a pair of Chevy II’s….the wide side trim points to ’63 models.

    Ahead of th Dauphine, a ’56 Ford Fairlane Victoria, a ’53 Chevy Two-Ten and a ’51 Mercury. In the closer lane, a ’59 Bonneville or Star Chief Vista, a ’60 or later Lark convertible, a ’59 Galaxie Sedan, a ’62 Rambler Classic and a ’63 Galaxie behind a ’63 Chevy

  4. In the lead image, interesting two-tone on the mild custom `50 Olds 88 sedan–surprised it isn’t a coupe! To it’s right, neat to see a plain-jane `55 Plymouth Savoy wagon; rarely seen anymore. The bottom image looks like it was taken about 1963–I spot a `63 Impala sedan 5 cars up in the second row, ahead of a `63 Galaxie 500 sedan. Near the lower right margin, a nice `59 Bonneville Sport Sedan flat-top!!

  5. TRUCKS!!! The 1st pic has a 1955 Ford F500, the star in the grill indicated a 6 cylinder. I had a truck exactly like that in the mid 80’s. I got it from a church that was using it as a storage unit, they gave me the truck. Behind it, a Mack B-61(?), no up pipe, ( or dirty trailer corner) so probably a gas job. Next to it, looks like an early 50’s Fageol Allied moving van. The bobtail truck going the other way, another Mack, another gas job. No surprise on the Macks, it is PA. Can’t you just hear all the vacuum wipers hissing away?

    • If it’s a gas job it’s a 42 instead of a 61. For the B-series (other than fire trucks that have their own numbering scheme), odd numbers were diesel and even numbers were gasoline, and the B-42 was the gas equivalent of the diesel B-61.

  6. I am curious about the vehicle with the unusual mirror in the second photo far right behind the Chevy II convertible. Anyone able to ID it?

  7. Overall this is a pretty mundane selection of vehicles. Nothing really exciting in the whole lot. The oldest one I see is the Chevrolet Fleetline in the first photo, a 1942 or 1946 model judging by the horizontal chrome trim at the trunk handle. Out of the cars pictured that’s the one I would take home. I always liked the Fleetlines.

    I can’t tell what the car is with the “unusual mirror”, but the extendable mirror was probably for towing a camping trailer.

  8. In the first photo, no one seems to have called out the 55 Ford or the 56 Ford? While neither is the high end Fairlane model, these were great looking models for Ford, especially when done in the vibrant colors available , like my Dads Waterfall Blue and Wimbledon White!!

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