mid 20th century

From Curbed:

New York Transit Museum’s vintage subway trains return for the holidays

You won’t want to miss this

As the holiday season approaches, the New York Transit Museum is once again collaborating with the MTA to offer subway rides on its vintage fleet of subway cars.

And this year, in honor of the one-year anniversary of the Second Avenue Subway opening, this year’s holiday trains will run along the F line between Second Avenue and Lexington Avenue/63rd Street and the Q line between Lexington Avenue / 63rd Street and 96th Street.

Beginning Sunday, November 26, riders can “ride back in time” on a special eight-car subway train from the 1930s that is decked out with ceiling fans, rattan seats, vintage roll signs, incandescent light bulbs, and original subway ads of the time period.

Holiday train rides will be around for just five Sundays, running on November 26, December 3, 10, 17, and 24. On the F line, trains depart at 10 a.m., 12 p.m., 2 p.m., and 4 p.m. while from the 96th Street subway station, trains will depart at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m., and 5 p.m. The best part is that it will only cost you the swipe of your MetroCard.

From The MTA:

Holiday Vintage Buses Take You Down Memory Lane

Take a bus ride down memory lane, or time travel to the past for the first time, this holiday season!

MTA New York City Transit will offer rides on its vintage bus fleet on the M42 route beginning Monday, December 4, to Friday, December 22. A variety of vintage buses will operate along the crosstown route between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays, weather permitting.

The annual tradition of running vintage, historic buses continues, as coaches make stops from river to river along 42 Street in Manhattan. Whether you’ve been riding the buses since before they were historic, or this is your first time experiencing the holidays in the city, these vintage buses are fun for everyone.

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Hosted by The Bronx County Historical Society 3313 Bainbridge Ave, Bronx, NY 10467-2835

Join Bronx authors Robert Gumbs and Fordham University’s Professor Mark Naison as they present their book Before the Fires: An Oral History of African American Life in the Bronx from the 1930s to the 1960s, along with the research that was done during the process. The authors will have copies of their book for sale and signing and there is a maximum capacity for up to 40 people. First come, first served.

This lecture will be held at The Bronx County Archives located at 3313 Bainbridge Avenue, The Bronx, New York 10467. For directions, call (718) 881-8900.…

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from the NY Times:

Beloved Anachronisms, Times Square Mosaics of the City May Be Preserved

Chances are, you have passed by them dozens of times. Chances are, you have never noticed.

Two of the largest maps of New York City are the one-story mosaic murals on either side of the Times Square police substation. Despite their size, however, they tend to disappear in the visual maelstrom of Broadway, Seventh Avenue and West 43rd Street, the intersection where the substation sits.

In a realm of LEDs, they are made of hand-cut blue and orange glass tiles. Among bloated monuments to excess, they are diminutively detailed. On a block where subtlety has no role, they exhibit refined artistry, with color gradients that make it appear as if sheer, feathery muslin had been draped over 16 lines radiating from a compass rose. And as the city continues pell-mell into the 21st century, they are frozen in 1957.

For instance, the Metropolitan Opera House (No. 15 on the map) is shown in Midtown Manhattan, where it has not been since 1966. At Columbus Circle is the New York Coliseum (No. 6). Too bad it was razed in 2000.

Anachronisms aside, the maps are worth seeing and worth saving. And that is worth saying because the Police Department has begun to make plans for a $3.5 million rehabilitation and modernization of the substation.

Happily, City Hall seems to understand the maps’ importance.

“We’re looking closely at where and how the murals might be preserved,” Austin Finan, a spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio, said last week.

The map murals are the work of Edward Meshekoff (1917-2010), an artist, illustrator and designer who was born in the Bronx and educated at the University of California, Los Angeles. His commissions included a children’s playroom aboard the ocean liner United States and the 1952 children’s book “The Little Car That Wanted a Garage.”


A surviving icon of the Brooklyn Bridge from one of the mosaics. Credit Cassandra Giraldo for The New York Times

On the maps, childlike delight is evident in the metal icons Mr. Meshekoff embedded among mosaic tiles to pinpoint civic landmarks: an artist’s palette for the Metropolitan Museum of Art (No. 9), a polka-dot apatosaurus for the American Museum of Natural History (No. 10), a giraffe for the Bronx Zoo (No. 12), an open book for the New York Public Library (No. 17) and, for the opera house at Broadway and West 39th Street, a staff with a treble clef and a G note.

The map sweeps across the city’s five boroughs and New Jersey, from the Long Island Sound to the Hudson River to the Narrows to the Atlantic Ocean.

Now, this does not look like a representation of police work. But the building was not constructed for the police.

It was originally the Times Square Information Center, which opened in 1957 and was dedicated in 1958, after 66,000 visitors had come through, with questions like these for employees of the city’s Department of Commerce and Public Events:


A 1957 photograph of the mosaic on the west wall of what was then a city information center.

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NY Obscura Society Cinema Club: Monday Night Matinee Monday, February 22nd @7PM

In the 1930s, the war between cinema and vaudeville was in full swing. Many of the grand old theaters that had been dedicated to hosting live shows were being retrofitted to accommodate the increasingly popular new medium, replacing performers who were convinced that moving pictures were merely a passing fad. After all, in a pre-television world, an audience could get all manner of entertainment from a vaudeville show, from music and comedy to drama and dance. Hollywood was quite aware of this difference, however, and developed their own diverse programming that attempted to combine the novelty of motion pictures with the variety offered by vaudeville. Shorts, in the form of newsreels, cartoons, serials, trailers and more, preceded almost every film that people went to see in the theater.

Join the Obscura Cinema Club for an evening of entertainment that harkens back to this time of novelty and innovation, with this carefully curated selection of shorts from 1930’s through the 1960’s. Join us on a trip back to when the price of a ticket not only paid for a double feature, but also a filmic variety show of shorts. These films will provide a fascinating, enlightening, and at times hilarious look at the events, popular culture, and social mores of the time.

Videology Bar & Cinema

  • 308 Bedford Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11249
  • 718-782-3468
  • info@videology.info



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You may have never heard of a newspaper called PM. But it was one of several daily newspapers which New York City used to support in the mid-20th century. Surviving issues, some of which feature now well-known writers and photographers, provide a window into the lives and concerns of people during the 1940s, when the paper ran.

According to Untapped Cities, “the Steven Kasher Gallery in Chelsea is pulling the paper back into the spotlight with the exhibition “PM New York Daily: 1940-48.” Until February 20th, the gallery will show pictures from PM, taken by the biggest photographers of the ’40s including Lisette Model, Margaret Bourke-White and Weegee.

The paper was founded by Ralph Ingersoll, the managing editor of Time-Life publications who was known for his daring and defiant character. In 1941, when Stalin made an interview with Ingersoll off-the-record, the editor ran a detailed illustration of the Kremlin and pointed out the gate where Ingersoll had entered – proof that the interview had indeed happened.

In an age of press corruption, Ingersoll was adamant that PM would not publish ads. It survived on donations and subscriptions alone. Or rather it limped by. In 1946, its owner, Chicago bank millionaire Marshall Field, declared that the paper would begin accepting ads. Ingersoll resigned.

But PM‘s first five years were glorious. The paper supported President Roosevelt’s New Deal and preached the plight of the working class. From abroad, it exposed the fascism of World War II. PM reporters were writing about the mass murder of Jews as early as 1941.

You can see these articles at the gallery, where each photo is paired with a copy of the newspaper page that it appeared on. The white walls are a medley of pristine prints in elegant black frames and taped-up photocopies of newspaper articles. It’s the best and biggest scrapbook you’ve ever seen.”

I’m going to go to the exhibit if I can.…

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from Creative Boom: Photographs of everyday life in 1950s New York City discovered in an attic 45 years later

“The vintage photographs you’re about to see have an interesting history. They all came from a cardboard box filled with negatives that was unopened and virtually forgotten for over 45 years. When undiscovered photographer Frank Larson passed away in 1964, his wife Eleanora boxed up all of their possessions and moved out of their retirement home in Lakeville, Connecticut. The box of negatives was one of these items, and it has remained with the family ever since, tucked away in storage.

That was until, Carole Larson – the widow of Frank’s youngest son David – and her son Soren were sorting though old boxes in their attic and found the negatives.

Soren said: “I had seen a few examples of my grandfather’s photography over the years and always admired them – our old family photo albums have a few small prints of his work in them. My father also used to speak with admiration about his father’s love of photography and his weekend trips with his Rolleiflex into the city to film places like the Bowery, Chinatown and Times Square.

“But when I opened the box and began to explore what was inside I was truly shocked at the quality and range of the images, as well as the effort, dedication and love he brought to the task. When Frank died in 1964, I was only three years old, and too young to remember this gentle, careful man.”

Inside the box were over 100 envelopes filled with mostly medium-format, 2 1/4″ x 2 1/4″ negatives. The packets were marked by date and location, carefully sealed and left exactly as he packed them 50 years ago. Soren added: “As I began unsealing each packet and holding the negatives up to the light, it was like a trip back in time, back to the New York of the early ’50s.”

Following the discovering, Soren built a website in dedication to his grandfather, sharing the negatives-turned-photographs with the rest of the world. You can view more of Frank Larson’s amazing photography at www.franklarsonphotos.com. “…

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