Tag Archives: Times Square

Old New York In Photos #43

Giant Times Square Advertising Billboards Of The Past

New York's Times Square at night 60 Years ago, 1954 photo: Charles Shaw

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

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 nigTimes Square 1948 Bond Clothiers at night billboardht. 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.

Times Square Wrigleys Billboard sign Ad postcardThe other billboard Continue reading

Times Square January 11, 1954 – Lots of Snow And Cold Weather

January 11-12, 1954 – Biggest Snowstorm In Five Years Hits New York

Times Square Snowstorm Jan 12 1954

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.

Old New York In Photos #29

Advertisements & Scenes of Times Square In Vintage Color Photographs 1954

Times Sq 7 1954

It’s been almost 60 years since these photographs were taken by an anonymous amateur photographer who was interested in the signage, ads and the streets surrounding a vibrant, now vanished Times Square.

The city began sterilizing all the flavor from the crossroads of the world in the late 1980’s. It was a few years later that most New Yorker’s began noticing the mall-ification of Times Square. True, Times Square had denigrated into a rather sleazy place from the mid-1960’s until the “revitalization” took place. But what has it become?

For anyone who lived through Times Square’s final heyday in the 1950’s, today the place must seem extremely distasteful with its countless tourist barkers, ill-planned pedestrian plazas and glass monolith buildings sheathed in gaudy LED light ads. It’s overcrowded with people moving slowly, chain stores, costumed kitsch characters and modern day hucksters hawking their products to tourists for a “real New York experience.” Give me the days of three card monte games and prostitutes over eight people wandering around in Mickey Mouse costumes any day.

As Nik Cohn said in 1997, ‘Times Square has always changed every 20 years. But this time it’s changed to a corporate, generic American city that doesn’t particularly express the uniqueness of New York.”

Times Sq  looking southeast 1954But let’s go back in time to 1954 when it was a better time for Times Square. Legitimate theatre was still great, movies offered up Cinemascope entertainment and real Broadway characters (not criminals and freaks) roamed the streets.

Enjoy these Kodachrome views of what you would have seen looking around Times Square on a sunny, warm July day in 1954.

Minimal commentary has been added for identification purposes. Click any photo to enlarge.

Times Sq 6 1954Times Square looking south from 46th Street. Shown are: Times Tower Building, Bishop’s Crook Light, Hotel Astor with The Astor Roof Garden, Victoria Theater showing About Mrs. Leslie starring Shirley Booth and Robert Ryan, on the extreme left a portion of the statue for the giant block long Bond Clothes advertisement.

Times Sq 1954 1Looking west from Broadway and Seventh Avenue along 45th Street. Shown are: the Astor Theater with a large billboard for Indiscretion of an American Wife starring Jennifer Jones and Montgomery Clift, and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musicals Me and Juliet  and The King and I, and the 26 story Hotel Piccadilly at 227 West 45th Street. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #25

42nd Street and Broadway New York Times Building 1915

42nd st Times Building 10 3 15

We have previously featured an overview of the Times Tower Building and Times Square. Now we present a street level view looking west from Broadway. The date is October 3, 1915 and there are a handful of people milling about on the street.

Only the first three stories of the Times Building are visible and a newsstand in front of the building is selling out-of-town newspapers. In the background are some advertisements.  Below the “Some Baby” billboard there is one on the window for a Chop Suey establishment, which is right next to and above a popular chain restaurant, Child’s.

Times Square New Year’s Eve: Celebrations Of The Past

4 Photographs Of Times Square On New Year’s Eve 1952-1965

Another New Year’s celebration tonight. What did it look like half a century ago?

Pretty much the same.

Here are four photographs of Times Square as it appeared during New Year’s Eve celebrations during the 1950’s and 1960’s.  The amount of light emanating from the vicinity leads to an overexposure, making this a difficult scene to capture.

Times Square New Year’s Eve 1952

Times Square New Years Eve December 31 1952

Continue reading

Old New York in Photos #22

Times Square And The New York Times Tower Building 1908

Times Square featuring The Times Tower 1908 – click to vastly enlarge (six megabytes!)

Times Square is burgeoning with activity in 1908 and there is so much to see in this picture.

This photograph of Times Square was part of The Detroit Publishing Company collection, now housed at The Library of Congress. The company made picture postcards from these original photographs at the turn of the century.

The area formerly known as Longacre Square became Times Square after the New York Times opened their iconic flagship office building in 1905 at what would become known as “the crossroads of the world,” the southern end of Times Square, the triangular intersection of 42nd and 43rd streets where Broadway and Seventh Avenue diverge.

Flatiron Building in 1903

The Times Tower Building design is reminiscent of the Fuller Building, which became popularly known as the “Flatiron Building” soon after it opened in 1902 between 22nd and 23rd Streets where Broadway and Fifth Avenue intersect. The two buildings don’t look alike at all. But because they were each built on irregular plots of land, the triangular buildings both resemble flatirons.

The original Times Tower Building was a Gothic structure of beautiful light limestone and featured intricate terra-cotta and granite on the facade. More about the building later in the article. Continue reading

New York’s Big Snowstorm Of 1948

December 19, 1948 – Times Square 8:53 pm

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.