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View Full Version : A Midsize American City in 1955



ablarc
March 24th, 2009, 05:17 PM
A MIDSIZE AMERICAN CITY IN 1955

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/midsizeamericancity1955/01.jpg

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Source: http://dome.mit.edu/handle/1721.3/33655

scumonkey
March 24th, 2009, 05:42 PM
nice shots of Boston!- WoW what a difference.

ablarc
March 24th, 2009, 06:03 PM
^ Which do you prefer: now or then?

Fabrizio
March 24th, 2009, 06:12 PM
No cell phones, no i-pods, no people staring into laptops. Eerie.

NYatKNIGHT
March 24th, 2009, 06:17 PM
I wish we all still wore hats.

Fabrizio
March 24th, 2009, 06:26 PM
Oh, but men still do. They wear baseball caps on backwards.

Exactly as 8 year olds did back then.

scumonkey
March 24th, 2009, 08:01 PM
Which do you prefer: now or then? Having lived in Boston, I can say probably now, (I do so like tall buildings).
It might have sorta looked nicer (more small town feel) back than but,
it's no place I would want to have lived in (then- or now actually)!
Nice place to visit though ;)
I believe that Boston has done a much better job of
preserving it's (very historical) architectural past than
New york has, and the quality of it's modern buildings
is not all that bad, or completely tasteless.
I think Boston has been lucky and ended up with a good
mix of both era's. There were a lot of ugly things in the old Boston
that have been vastly improved upon.
It's still a rabbits warren!

Fabrizio
March 24th, 2009, 09:13 PM
Judging from the advertising, my guess is that this would be the fall of 1956. We forget that only 20 years earlier the US was still in the Depression. And only 15 years earlier the US was at war. Things here are still scruffy and modest.

ablarc
March 25th, 2009, 06:38 AM
^ Those pics were part of an ongoing Kevin Lynch/Gyorgy Kepes project using student photographers. Photos date from at least 1955, 1956 and 1957.

ablarc
March 25th, 2009, 06:43 AM
No cell phones, no i-pods, no people staring into laptops. Eerie.
Yeah, but folks used to smoke pipes instead.

Where have all the smoke shops gone?

Plus, did you notice all the advertising devoted to liquor and beer? A liquor store on every corner.

Hard-drinking town.

Fabrizio
March 25th, 2009, 10:56 AM
Lots of liquor... but remember there was no Valium and that sort of stuff prescribed to the masses yet. No Prosac and so forth. No support groups, new age philosophy or self-help gurus to help you deal with your problems. People drank.

Ebryan
March 25th, 2009, 11:58 AM
So much of this is familiar now -- and remains, thankfully. The West End of course, tragic.

ablarc
March 25th, 2009, 04:28 PM
The West End of course, tragic.
West End is the fifth picture. Not one building in that photo survives. After they tore it all down, they substituted towers in a park (for the upper middle class).

Soundbounder
March 25th, 2009, 05:48 PM
I am about ready for a Narragansett Beer.

ablarc
March 26th, 2009, 07:15 AM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narragansett_Brewing_Company

http://www.narragansettbeer.com/

phxmania2001
March 26th, 2009, 08:56 AM
I wish we all still wore hats.

Join in and set the example. I picked up two hats last year (for summer and winter use) and they've been great - I get shade and protection from the elements all while looking stylish (well... moderately stylish).

Beautiful photos.

ablarc
March 26th, 2009, 10:25 AM
Show us your hats.

avngingandbright
March 26th, 2009, 11:27 AM
When did we, as Americans, lose our ability to build cities? Is it possible even today?

Ebryan
March 26th, 2009, 04:36 PM
When did we, as Americans, lose our ability to build cities? Is it possible even today?

Yes, most definitely -- Seaside? Miami Beach?

ablarc
March 26th, 2009, 07:44 PM
^ You could say those are the exceptions that prove the rule.

Seaside, 1980's; Miami Beach, 1930's.

ablarc
April 4th, 2009, 12:18 PM
There were a lot of ugly things in the old Boston that have been vastly improved upon.
But oddly enough, the cumulative effect of all those little improvements is a general loss of character. Especially ugly before and bland now that they're removed: all those elevated transportation structures --the El, and especially the Big Dig. The latter has thrust a wiggly stiletto of suburban anonymity into the city's heart.

Luca
April 4th, 2009, 12:43 PM
Poignant. :(

scumonkey
April 4th, 2009, 02:36 PM
...and especially the Big Dig. The latter has thrust a wiggly stiletto of suburban anonymity into the city's heart.
Agreed- they could have done a better job with all the new free space they acquired-more than disappointing.

ablarc
April 4th, 2009, 05:16 PM
^ Buildings would have been preferable to this largely pointless greenway. They would have knit the city back together. This way, the scar remains.

ablarc
April 6th, 2009, 10:44 AM
KENMORE SQUARE IN 1955

Born and bred at the city’s edge.

Beyond lie suburbs…

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/kenmoresquare/0005.jpg

In the other direction, the city:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/kenmoresquare/0010.jpg
Crossroads and gateway: the outer edge.

Such places generally have places for travelers to rest their weary bones…

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/kenmoresquare/0040.jpg

…and other forms of welcome and good cheer:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/kenmoresquare/0050.jpg
Crossroads and gateway: the outer edge.

Though it’s a weak example, Kenmore can be classified with a group that includes Piccadilly Circus, Place Pigalle, and New York’s Times Square and Union Square. All were born as rowdy gateways at the city’s edge, and all once derived their character from neon, drinking, and sometimes smut. Piccadilly and Pigalle retain both neon and smut, Times Square only its neon; it has been cleaned up. Some say it too has lost much of its character in the process.

Bob
April 11th, 2009, 03:41 AM
Those fabulous nighttime shots show how much fabulous neon has been lost. American cities used to be wonderful visual landscapes at night. Today, for the most part, the scene is dark or horribly illuminated with sodium vapor lights. No neon. No pizzazz. The homogenized city is boring. Alas.

ablarc
April 14th, 2009, 05:30 AM
... and back lit plastic signs.