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Falling Snow Swirls Around Rush Hour Traffic at Logan Circle

This image taken almost sixty-nine years ago on January 31, 1951, in Philadelphia, Pa, contains commuter traffic during a snow storm traveling around Logan Circle. This space, located in the center of the City is named Logan Square and was converted into a traffic circle in the late-1910s and became a part of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. This roadway begins at City Hall and stretches a mile across “Center City” diagonally, ending at the Philadelphia Museum of art.

Please share with us what you find of interest in this photograph by George D. McDowell courtesy of the Temple University Libraries.

23 responses to “Falling Snow Swirls Around Rush Hour Traffic at Logan Circle

  1. How did we survive anemic defrosters, vacuum wipers, skinny bias ply tires, rear wheel drive, no seat belts or padded dashes and airbags…? I guess we were just tougher then.

    • Dead batteries and cars that had difficulty starting up in cold weather was also something that people had to deal with quite often back then.

    • I’m sure everyone in those cars in the photo would have upgraded to something from the last 20-30 years in a hearbeat. You mean the cars can do this? Really?

      What choice did people have? None. AC was still an option on luxury cars in the 70s. Same for power windows.

      Because that photo was Jan 51, I’ll use 1950. The death rate was 21.79 / per 100,000 people.
      Last full years stats was 2018 and it was 11.18. The tough people died at twice the clip as the (us)
      current weak ones. Tough but stupid. Radial tires came out about 3 years earlier. FWD was known.

      If Electromagnetic Pulse Bombs were dropped all over the country, theoretically our living would go back to something like the 1890s for an extended period of time. Would that make use instantly tougher?

    • Don’t got get the days before modern antifreeze and multi-viscosity oils.

      Most of today’s drivers have never had to think about changing coolant or switching oil types with the seasons.

    • And for that, the class of 1950 was placed back into recess in 1951. But whatever happened to the DOT/NHTSA “49 CFR” bumper standards from the 1970s through 1980s? A “Front Fascia System” (aka front bumper cover) for a Tesla Model 3 is $1,995. Plus installation/finishing. One online estimate to restore/rechrome a 1950 Buick bumper is $519. $129 more for each of the nine vertical bars (aka teeth). Which car face has more “character” (which means whatever you want it to), and which car would you really rather have? Both? “One to drive and one to show”? Good. Go get ’em. It’s your choice.

      Self certified (aka “Don’t get caught!”) is the way today.

      To “Forever New Frontiers” when you fly in 737 MAX?

  2. One major difference between that era and this: when it snowed enough to coat the streets, they weren’t salted so heavily that they became just wet. People slowed way down to control their cars, drove with respect to the limitations the cars had in snow. Now, just go as fast as possible, hope the vehicle will make up for misjudgment.

  3. I believe I see a 1948 fishtail Cadillac travelling as the second car on the right, and a convertible no less, and then right next to it is a 1948 Pontiac Deluxe Torpedo four door sedan chugging along, and then right behind the Pontiac is a circa 1948 Kaiser. A nice photograph taken of the ‘The City of Brotherly Love’ with city hall featured in the background.

  4. The exhaust fumes hanging in the air show how slow this traffic is moving with everyone watching out for everyone else!

    Don’t remember where I found the statement below, but when I was vintage racing a car with drum brakes I had it posted on the door of my trailer:

    Why the World Was Better When We All Had Drum Brakes

    When one drove down the road and had to “hit” the brakes, many things could happen. The brakes could pull to one side or the other, they could fade, or, if you had just passed through deep water, the might not work at all! When you used the brakes you undertook a responsibility for your own welfare and that of others.

    But then … disc brakes came along, drivers now only had to jab the pedal to achieve a quick, straight stop almost regardless of conditions. No more personal involvement, no need to prepare yourself for unpredictable events. And, no need to be preoccupied about the safety of yourself or others.

    Just sayin’!

    • Most of the low end makes didn’t have them until the mid 1960’s. But sometimes you get them as a rather expensive accessory.

    • I have 48 Caddy Convt like the one in the picture. It has two factory heater cores with one under the back seat. My car does not run but I have heard they were just ok. Many of this era or before used Southwind Gasoline heaters. I have one in a 36 Ford Phaeton and it puts out heat immediately and sometime too much with side curtains on.

  5. The laundry van looks like a post war IH Metro, designed by Raymond Lowey, I didn’t know that, and city bus is a Mack. I’ve had several older cars of this vintage, and heaters weren’t quite as archaic as you’d think. Our ’50 Packard had fresh air heat, and was adequate, for front passengers, anyway. It wasn’t like a Model A with a manifold heater. Once, when I still had the Packard, an elderly woman came up to me in a grocery store lot and asked, “excuse me young man ( I was a young man at the time) is that a Packard?” I said, “why yes, yes it is”. She thought for a minute and said, “my dad had a car like that, and all I remember is some cold rides with blankets in the back seat going up north”.

  6. I frequently travel to the Mid-west and usually to Grand Rapids, a city generally blanketed in snow most of the winter. I was really surprised at how many cars went off the freeway, spun 360 degrees on city streets, were on the road with iffy tires for the season, until I heard one of the women I was meeting mention she was okay in the recent heavy snow cause she had new tires! Damn, 4WD and studless for me when winter comes around, but these folks are just ‘tough’ I guess (glad none of them hit me!!).

  7. I am sure it was before I had a “learner’s permit,” but Dad took my out to the snowy, ice-covered high school parking lot. He let me drive, telling me to learn how a ’66 Coronet handled. I slammed on the brakes at speed, turned the wheel sharply, and did a few other things under his tutelage. He also had me drive off the side of the road on a clear day and learn how not to lose control getting back on the road. I did the same with my daughters.

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