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Columbia South Carolina Street Scene

This Columbia, SC, street scene image was taken in late-1955 or ’56. The “Loans,” “Columbia Grille,”and “Schlitz” beer signs, the Esso station on the far-right, and the numerous older everyday automobiles give the impression of it being located in a working-class neighbor in the City. Note the sign on the rear of the taxi cab advertising the “Push Button Driving” available on the 1956 DeSoto.

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

33 responses to “Columbia South Carolina Street Scene

  1. At the end of the block to the left of the ESSO sign, is a 56 Mercury parked next to a SUV.
    The ’56 looks low compared to the other cars, the truck really stands out.

    To the far left, a ’53 Ford.

    • Made a mistake, meant the two-door 1950 DODGE Wayfarer Sedan is parked on the right, not left.

      Also parked on the right, 6th car back, is a 1955 BUICK Super Riviera.

  2. I don’t believe that is Phila Pa.
    Pa. had no front plate in ’56.
    The cars facing the camera don’t seem to have an inspection sticker on the right side of the windshield .
    The cars going away don’t appear to have Pa. tags .

  3. It looks like the corner store is a Dixie Super Market and the loan company may be named Main Finance Co. I can’t tie any of the business names to a specific address in Philadelphia, though.

  4. Kicking off Monday morning my guesses…
    In the street going away, a ’54 Chevy One-Fifty Handyman, a ’54 Plymouth Plaza taxi, a ’56 Dodge Royal or Custom Royal, a ’50 Olds 76 or 88 or ’51 88, a ’51 Chevy Styleline Coupe, a ’53 Bel Air sedan, likely a ’49 Pontiac Chieftain Sedan and a ’54 Chevy with a ’55 Chevy up ahead beside a ’50-’53 Rambler wagon.

    Rounding that corner, a ’53 Chevy and ahead a ’50 or ’51 Plymouth beside a ’49 Dodge Coronet 8-Passenger Sedan, a ’53 Kaiser Manhattan or DeLuxe Sedan, a ’50 Chevy Fleetline DeLuxe 2-door sedan and a ’53 Mercury Monterey or Custom Sedan

    Of some interest, parked on the right the ’50-’52 Pontiac convertible, a ’50 Dodge Wayfarer Sedan, a ’50 or ’51 Studebaker Champion sedan and a ’55 Buick Special or Century Riviera.
    Of note parked on the left in front of the Columbia Grill is the very stretched rear of a ’54 Pontiac Star Chief sedan and much farther down where a pedestrian has apparently just crossed the street, a ’54 Senior Buick sedan followed by a ’56 Mercury 2-door sedan and the tall silhouette of an early-‘50s Chevy Suburban or GMC Carryall Suburban

    • That 49 Coronet 8-passenger sedan really caught my eye. Large family? In a capital city like Columbia, it’s a bit down-market for an official or livery car.

      It really is striking how few ’55 or ’56 cars are in this picture. ’54s for that matter.

  5. New est car I spot are the `56 Dodge Custom Royal sedan in front of the `54 Plymouth taxi, and across the street parked way at the end I see a `56 Mercury Custom sedan with black walls. In front of the Columbia Grill is a rather nice `54 Pontiac Star Chief 4dr. sedan.

  6. Above the ’53 Plymouth taxi, is a ’56 Dodge, adjacent is a ’53 Kaiser head toward the viewer. Following the Kaiser is a ’49 Dodge eight passenger sedan, likely a livery car for a hotel or railroad station or airport shuttle. Parked under the “Columbia Grill” sign is a fellow enjoying his ’54 Pontiac Star Chief Deluxe sedan, the first of the extended deck Pontiacs that would become the top-line mainstay as Star Chief Custom then Bonnevilles during the decade or so following.

  7. I’ve been in Philadelphia many times (although I was born in 1954, so I have no memories of this time period) and I’ve never seen that kind of parking in the city.

    • I missed it earlier, a 1950-51 Dodge fastback two door sedan. I don’t know what this body was really named.

  8. At a glance, I spot only 2 non-Big 3 cars in this photo: The Kaiser driving toward us, and a Studebaker parked 4 spaces up on the right. Perhaps sharper eyes will find more. But few independents here, for sure.

  9. Not a foreign car in sight. Summer of ’56 (windows down, leaves on trees). That black Dodge(?) sedan coming toward the camera (upper right) looks like it might be stretched.

  10. I see a nice tri-tone 1956 Dodge in traffic,
    and all the way at ths end of the block on the opposite side of the street is parked a black 1956 Mercury.

  11. Marion Burnside & Son dealership was in Columbia, SC. See also Columbia Grill.

    Got to be Columbia, SC, but I can’t pinpoint the street location.

  12. I think I’ll stop off at the bar, and have a cold draft while I think of my wish…. probably would be the Chevy wagon.

  13. There was a Marion Burnside and Sons car dealership (sign on the back of the taxi) located at 2015 Gervais Street, Columbia, S.C. That explains the Columbia Grill too.

  14. Great photo. Thanks for sharing.
    It’s definitely Columbia, South Carolina, not Philadelphia.
    The sign on the back of the taxi is for Marion Burnside & Sons, a car dealer in Columbia SC.
    The Richland Library Digital Collection has a very similar photo of Hampton Street, Columbia SC taken in June 1956.
    A comparison of Google street view with these photos really shows the impact of urban renewal.

  15. Taking a closer look at the signage on the car, the DeSoto is from Marion Burnside & Sons, which was a Pymouth-DeSoto-Valiant dealer in Columbia, South Carolina. Either it’s very far from home or this is a Columbia street scene.

  16. Schlitz, the beer that made Milwaukee famous ( a hefty claim), Columbia, SC? Why not. Tell you what, that ESSO station doing a heck of a business. Lot is plum full.

  17. Great pic! Nothing “furrin”!54 Chevy wagon, the 50 Olds coupe, 50 Fleetline,
    Pontiac convert, Dodge Wayfarer (?), how about the sluiced rear doors on the Stude! Even the pretty 4dr. Merc with skirts leaving the scene, sorry but Suburban s were NOT calledSUV’s , lots of two doors and wagons wouldn’t know how to choose! BIG ole 55 (6) Pontiac 4dr, must be a Star Chief I think, not up on those but whatever the biggest Pontiac was I remember my father in law who owned a junk yard (before suv) telling me about how long the rear springs were, again what a fantastic picture!

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