Giant Times Square Advertising Billboards Of The Past
New York’s Times Square at night 60 Years ago, 1954 photo: Charles Shaw
The New York Times article about the new eight story high, block long, LED illuminated billboard that will be put into use on Tuesday night, November 18, 2014, made me think about some of the classic advertising signs that were in place during the 1940’s and 1950’s at the crossroads of the world.
Bond Clothiers sign, 1948, Times Square looking north
Chief among these ads was the dramatic Bond Clothiers sign taking up the entire Broadway block between 44th and 45th Streets. The 200 foot wide, 50 foot high billboard was brightly lit up at night and had a waterfall cascading between the two large scantily clad statues flanking it. The figures appeared nude during by day and had electric lights draped around them which produced a quasi-covering effect on the statues when the lights went on.
With two miles of neon, it was a colorful spectacle to behold in person, especially at night. The sign was only up from 1948-1954.
We previously showed what the area looked like at night in our story about the giant New York snowstorm of 1948.
The Bond sign replaced an earlier sign for Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum that also was breathtaking with its neon aquatic design. Designed by Dorothy Shepard, it occupied the site from about 1936 to 1948.
January 11-12, 1954 – Biggest Snowstorm In Five Years Hits New York
60 years ago, on Monday January 11, 1954 New York City got walloped with a 10 inch snowstorm with temperatures dipping down to 15 degrees. The storm continued on through Tuesday making travel difficult and it gave sanitation department workers extra long shifts for snow removal. It was the heaviest snowfall in New York City since December 19-20, 1948, when more than 19 inches fell.
The scene shown here is Times Square looking north with the Hotel Astor on the left. Directly across the street is the famous Bond Clothiers advertising sign.
The snow did not result in shutting down New York City schools. Some elementary schools did allow girls to be dismissed 15 minutes early to spare them from being pelted with snowballs by the boys. Just outside of the city it was a different story as Rockland, Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk Counties generally did close public and parochial schools for the day.
The snow ended at 7:05 a.m. on January 12. Highways were mostly kept clear, but most drivers played it safe and left their cars at home. The real problem was that over the next two days the temperature in New York kept dropping. It went down to a low of 11 degrees, freezing the snow into hard packed ice, making it difficult for pedestrians to navigate the streets.
Western Rockland and northern Westchester counties, saw the temperature dip to as low as two below zero. In northern Maine the temperature was minus 25.
The cold wave stuck around for a whole week. The temperature hit a two year low in New York City on the morning of January 18. The mercury registered just 8.8 degrees at 1:30 a.m.. The weather finally changed on January 19 when the temperature rose to 40 degrees.
On this day 63 years ago, 19.6 inches of snow blanketed the city. Here is Times Square in the midst of this snowstorm with only a few pedestrians and cars visible. Because it was a Sunday, traffic was light and the city was able to prepare and battle the storm efficiently. Mayor William O’Dwyer had a force of 18,340 men to remove the snow and keep the city running.
To the disappointment of children on Monday, New York City schools were open.
Looking north from the Times Building we see on the left The Paramount Building with the Paramount Theatre’s marquee lights casting an extreme white glow and on the next block The Hotel Astor. On the right are two iconic neon advertising signs; one for Camel cigarettes between 43rd and 44th Streets and the other for Bond Clothiers between 44th and 45th Streets.
The Bond sign contained nearly two miles of neon and had two fifty foot nude figures at each end, one male and one female. A huge recirculating waterfall between the two figures topped off this amazing advertising sign which was in place from 1948-1954.