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Race Street at Franklin Square – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The date was November 2, 1954, when Frederick A. Meyer took this image looking north on Race St. for the “Philadelphia Evening Bulletin” newspaper. The view includes a tie-up at a construction zone at the intersection of Race St. and 7th St. The light-colored structure on the far left of the photo is the Franklin Square Parking Garage, and the entrance and a pair of gasoline pumps in front of it are visible (below) in the second enlargeable picture.

None of the structures in this scene have survived, although a present-day street view shows the open green space to the right of the intersection has survived.

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

16 responses to “Race Street at Franklin Square – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  1. In the 2nd expandable photograph, in the background left [in the Atlantic gas station lot], is a 1948 OLDSMOBILE, which looks like a Dynamic Club Coupé.

  2. One thing for sure, Philly was a Chrysler town. The Overland truck looks like a tired late 30’s IH D series, on the other side, a rather new GMC “New Design” box truck, next to a portable air compressor, and the asphalt roller looks like a Galion, about to roll over a hat. The Ford most assuredly hopped the curb, and an AD Chevy truck in the Atlantic station.

  3. That light colored ’53 Ford in the 1st expandable pic is set to do a tremendous wheel hop when the left rear tire hits that concrete divider

  4. In Item 1 of 2, up front a ’51 Mercury coupe and a ’53 Ford Customline Fordor Sedan. Following them a pair of ’54 Plymouth Plazas: a Suburban on the left and a coupe on the right. Between them a 50 DeSoto Custom Club Coupe. Behind the Suburban a ’53 Mercury, a ’53 Plymouth and a ’53 Ford.
    Two cars behind the DeSoto appears to be a Step-Down Hudson and probably a ’46-’48 Plymouth while behind the leading Plymouth is a ’53 Buick beside a ’54 Ford

    Item 2 of 2 highlights a ’49 Nash 600 with a ’52 Chevy entering the intersection from the left and a ’49 or ’50 Chevy Fleetline and a likely ’53 or ’54 Chrysler in the lot.

    The busses appear to be GM Coaches, in service in most large cities at least until the arrival of the “Fishbowl” models in the early ‘60s.

    The large white building seen on the left in Item 1 of 2, possibly the Franklin Square Garage seen in Item 2 of 2, is interesting. Dating from perhaps the late 1910s or early 1920s (it appears to be clad in Moderne-style terra cotta)…I wonder whether it was built as a garage or whether it originally housed some manufacturing facility that needed ramp-access to all floors.

  5. The garage was not long for this world when this photograph was taken, as that property soon became part of the Philadelphia Police Department Headquarters that started construction in 1959 and opened in 1963 (The Roundhouse).

  6. I thought this scene looked familiar. This is the traffic feed onto the Ben Franklin Bridge to NJ. Those buses are Public Service Coordinated Transportation. Old man Gilhooley’s boys. Very large operation. Might even be near rush hour time. I used to use Race to the bridge when coming from Independance Hall on field trips. Nice fastback in the gas station

  7. Fred probably shot this with a 4×5 press camera using Tri-X (ASA 400) or Super-X film. It was a dark day, so he had to shoot at almost wide-open aperture and use a slow shutter speed, so the foreground cars are a little blurred. The camera likely had a 127mm lens, which doesn’t allow much depth of field, especially wide open, and he focused a little too far back, so the foreground is out of focus. Anyway, we’re glad he went out there, got wet, and made this image!

  8. The Franklin Square Garage appears to have begun operating sometime between 1925 and 1930. Louis Levin (1886 – 1960) was the owner. He also owned two other parking structures. One of these was the Central Parking Place at 9th and Race in partnership with Benjamin Mayroveitz. The other was the H & S Garage at 178 Somerset.

    The one hour parking cost of $0.35 converts to an inflation adjusted $3.36 today. Similarly the $0.50 for two hour is $4.79 today, and the $0.65 for three hours is $6.23.

  9. It’s more interesting what I don’t see in the main photo. I see 5 Plymouth, 3 Buick, 3 Ford, 2 Mercury, 1 Hudson, 1 DeSoto, 1 Chevrolet. NO Dodge, Chrysler, Lincoln, Oldsmobile, Cadillac, Pontiac, Studebaker, or Nash.

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