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Mystery Image: 1950s Autos Damaged by Building Calamity

We usually do not post images of automobiles involved in accidents; however, since these vehicles appear to have been left behind by the owners after parking them and hopefully they were not harmed, we decided to make an exception.

Apparently the building behind the cars either exploded or collapsed. The fact that the Ford four-door sedan closest to the camera appears to have been pushed forward and probably was the closest to the forces involved seem to point to an explosion? The location where this mishap occurred is unknown, and a search for the original source of the image ended without any results.

Please share with us what you find of interest in this photo found via This Was Americar.

14 responses to “Mystery Image: 1950s Autos Damaged by Building Calamity

  1. In the 3rd picture [2nd expandable photograph], on the far right & in the lot across the street, is a two-door 1960 CHEVROLET Bel air Sedan.

  2. In the lead picture, driving to the left & to the left of the “IMPERIAL LAUNDRY,” is a two-door 1957 MERCURY Montclair hardtop.

  3. Perhaps a gas explosion in a building? Considering there are no front license plates on the vehicles maybe the location is in a state that did not require front license plates.

  4. I suspect the building burned rather than exploded…otherwise we would likely see at least some broken windows across the street. I’ll suggest the wall collapsed somewhat after the fire was put out since there’s no apparent charred paint on the cars as would likely appear if the fire continued after the wall fell.

    In Item 1 of 2, we can see the charred remains of perhaps the building on the other side of the collapsed one…it has some gothic-like structural bracing exposed on the second floor

    I see a ’57 Mercury on the street and damaged in the lot a ’54 Ford Crestline 4-door sedan, a ’55 Olds 88 Holiday Coupe, a ’55 Mercury sedan, a ’56 Ford Fairlane sedan, a ’52 Chevy sedan and a ’60 Ford Fairlane Town Sedan

  5. Yeah, that looks like much more vertical forces did the work there, not horizonal, as all the rear lens glass/plastic looks intact.

  6. I sure hope who ever owned the cars parked in the lot did not work in the demolished building. Very posable. On a brighter note, it looks like the IMPERIAL LAUNDRY was a very busy place. It looks like the stepvan and smaller van behind it were owned by them. Maybe the wagon also.

  7. Imperial Laundry was located at 205 Silver Ave SW in Albuquerque, NM. Now replaced by a mixed use building. Tall buildings in back New Mexico Bank and Trust still there.

    Lot with collapsed building and lot where damaged cars are now a parking lot and an apt building. Could not find anything about cause of building collapse.

  8. I don’t see much evidence of a fire, but the damage is clearly from a wall collapse. The cars have plates and could be the laundry workers. Laundries have all but faded, but I remember in my parents and grandparents time, the laundry was big deal especially dry cleaning. Across the street is a late 50’s IH B series pickup, the laundry appears to have a Grumman(?), then a AD Chevy step van, and a late 50’s Chevy Suburban. Apparently, there’s a bunch of Imperial Laundries, but this one may be in St. Louis.

    • Definitely New Mexico. The license plate on the Ford is the further clue besides the buildings. One number over the other on left side of plate then the Zia symbol then three numbers. (Been a plate fanatic for 50 years.)

  9. A bit off topic, but here in Tokyo land prices were getting so high in the late 80’s that many embassies were having second thoughts about maintaining a dedicated facility. The Cuban Embassy was on the way from the subway station to the fairly new Tri-service military hotel. I used to walk that route every week for reserve meetings and I noticed scaffolding erected around the embassy. Now Japanese demolition is usually pretty careful with few accidents, but one week as I was leaving the station, I ran in to the whole side of the building laying across the sidewalk and adjacent lanes, luckily flattening only one parked car. The scuttle butt was that the building was so riddled with spyware that the demolition crew had no idea how weak the walls actually were. Welcome to the Cold War!

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