Advertisements & Scenes of Times Square In Vintage Color Photographs 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.”
But 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 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.
Looking 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