The Big Apple Back in the Day
These shots all just seem to go together. I have no story to tell about them or anything, I just like them. Anyone who has spent time in New York City will probably recognize how much has changed - and how much hasn't. So, I am slowly adding shots of Times Square here down through the years, but looking uptown, not (as is almost always the case) downtown toward the Times building.
|Times Square 1907|
However, if you live in New York City below 42nd Street, that is the scene that greets you every time you walk to Times Square. It is the iconic view of Times Square. The opposite direction is a bit less well-known except to New Yorkers.
|Times Square, 1908.|
So, there is a method to my madness here. Also, I find a certain fascination with the changing signs and buildings at this, the 'intersection of the world.'
So, we have the massive Chevrolet sign there in 1935, and still there in 1958. It's gone by the 1960s, though. And Coca-Cola has that prominent spot down near street level, eventually replaced by Pepsi by 1940. Pepsi lasted there at least through 1947, then switched locations to the east side of the Square. While Time Square can seem an ever-changing whirl, there are definite, deliberate changes that last for long periods of time, but then eventually change as well.
I keep changing this. You can find the year by hovering over the shot. I think they are all in chronological order, but the exact year doesn't really seem to make much difference unless you are really paying attention. The shots span the 1920s to 1960s.
However, when you go through these, you start to notice things. Some billboards become old friends, then abruptly disappear. For instance, Chevrolet, Admiral Television, Canadian Club - all stalwarts throughout the 1950s. That Admiral Television sign - still there in 1959! Also the sign directly above it, the Canadian Club whiskey sign. But the Chevrolet sign? Gone. So, too, the one with the guy's face, replaced with a pineapple.
It all brings to mind that scene from "The Time Traveller," you know, the shot where the time traveller accelerates through time and watches the changing girls' fashions in the window across the street?
Vehicles were so colorful back then. Not like all the dull whites and greys you see today. They should bring back the two-tone look! And look at how much room all the cars have! And the sky - you can see the sky all around!
In another 50 years, they'll probably enclose the whole thing and they'll look back at pictures of Time Square from today, surrounded by humongous office towers, and go, "Wow, it was outside! Imagine that!"
Oh, and the Criterion theater on the lower right in the 1955 shot is showing a production of "Chicago." Some things truly never change. In the 1958 shot, it is "Moby Dick."
|Postcard View, 1911|
|1934: the Coca-Cola has taken over the prime bottom spot, and Squibb took over from Pepsodent. The Chevrolet sign has changed and sits at the top. It is fair to say that James Cagney ruled Times Square during the decade of the '30s.|
|Early 1942, right after the start of the war. "Lydia" was released in February '42. Quite possible that the same photographer took both this shot and the one above, maybe on the same day.|
|Chevrolet is gone, but not for long.|
|Notice how the Ruppert sign looks so cool all lit up? Very dull during the day.|
|There was a recession after World War II, and passenger cars still were not plentiful. Thus, you still see uncrowded streets in 1947.|
|Martin and Lewis were breakout stars in 1952. That corner had some awesome wrap-around signs in those days.|
|Pepsi has moved across to the right. This is a very professional shot.|
|Same spot as above, almost the same time, too, but a different shot - more of a snapshot.|
|Another shot from around the same time in 1955, but the lowest sign in the middle is slightly different than in the two shots above.|
|"Run Silent, Run Deep" was released 27 March 1958, so place this spring 1958.|
|The automat on the left - Horn & Hardarts - was there for decades, from 1912 to the mid-'70s.|
I know, several shots from roughly the same time. But it allows you to imagine yourself there, walking about.
|Chevrolet is not visible at this angle|
|"The Horse Soldiers" was released June 12, 1959. This looks like summer, so probably not too long after that. "The Diary of Anne Frank" by George Stevens also is playing, it was released March 18, 1959. So, probably around June '59.|
|Great shot, Times Square at its peak as far as I'm concerned. Lots of smog, though, the air quality must have been miserable.|
|Checker cabs were already on the way out in the mid-60s, but the myth lived on for decades.|
|Castro Convertible and Coke are both still on the billboards in 1979, though with updated logos. Change takes place in Times Square quite slowly.|
Oh, and a couple of not-colorful shots to wind things up.
Regarding the two shots below, I know you're wondering, because I was. Cyd Charisse and Fred Astaire, "The Band Wagon" (1953). If you knew that without me telling you - you're good.
|Definitely a soundstage, nobody is going to slide along on a real Times Square subway platform.|