Old New York In Photos #121 – Columbus Circle 1947

Columbus Circle September 1947

Columbus Circle 1947 Keystone-Mast Collection, UCR/California Museum of Photography, University of California at Riverside

Columbus Circle 1947 photo: Keystone-Mast Collection, UCR/California Museum of Photography

Our scene shows Columbus Circle looking south from Broadway and 60th Street towards 8th Avenue.

In the foreground are two examples of the iron and glass subway kiosks providing graceful entrances and exits to the original subway. By the late-1960s all the ornamental kiosks were removed by the city.

When The Photo Was Taken

Surveying our scene we can see advertising which helps narrow down our photograph to a warm September day in 1947.  The Chevrolet billboard on the left shows the time is 12:20 p.m.. The billboard on the extreme right announces coming to a Broadway soon is the film, Something In The Wind starring Deanna Durbin, Donald O’Connor and John Dall. The film opened in New York City August 28, 1947. Below the billboard at 5 Columbus Circle between 58th and 59th Streets is The International Theatre. Displayed on the theatre’s marquee, a comedy The Magic Touch  ran from September 3 – 13. The International Theatre opened on January 21, 1903 as the Majestic Theatre and had name changes over the years including Columbus Circle; Park Theatre; Minsky’s Park Music Hall; Theatre of Young America and Cosmopolitan Theatre.

The theatre was condemned by Robert Moses and  torn down in 1954 to make way for the New York Coliseum.

The Outlaw

The large billboard in the center for “Howard Hughes Daring Production, The Outlaw starring Jane Russell, Coming Soon” has an interesting backstory. The film was completed in February 1941 and had a limited release in 1943. It was quickly yanked from theaters for production code violations. Too much of Jane Russell’s ample bosom and many homoerotic sexual innuendos. It was 1946 when the film was re-edited and re-released throughout the country where it became a smash – except New York where it was still banned. A San Francisco  theater owner was arrested for showing The Outlaw because it was “offensive to decency.” The ban ended when The Outlaw finally had its New York debut on September 11, 1947.

Some things to notice by clicking on our photograph to see it full size. The stone building partially seen to the right is a banking branch of Manufacturer’s Trust Company. A Walgreen Ice Cream delivery truck is passing by the subway kiosk. Part of the street is still paved by Belgian block. A bundle of newspapers sits beside the kiosk awaiting the newsboy who will sell them.

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