Triangle Sunoco Station, Route 46, South Hackensack NJ, October 1973.
Note: This is my 100th Curbside Classic post–should I stop now and quit while I’m ahead or keep going?
Back when I was in grade school, there were two library books in particular that I liked looking at from time to time: Urban Landscapes and Paterson by George A. Tice. Both contained large black and white photos of ordinary scenes around New Jersey. These books were totally unique because while there were several books about New York City and Philadelphia (and they usually only covered the “famous” landmarks), “ordinary” places in my home state of New Jersey were often ignored and seldom given any attention at all. Tice’s photos I could relate to–not only because they were of familiar local scenes, but they made you appreciate the beauty and significance of small, often overlooked details. And of course there were plenty of older cars from the late ’50s to the early ’70s shown as well!
Garriss’ General Store, Stillwater NJ, August 1973.
George Tice in 2013, with daughters Lisa and Jennifer.
I recently took a second look at Tice’s books . . . and I started to wonder if the familiar scenes he captured still look the same as when he photographed them 50+ years ago. So I decided to go on a Google Streetview quest–and I was shocked (but not surprised) to see that much of what Tice photographed is barely recognizable today.
As I’ve mentioned before, finding the modern street view is often not so easy, even when you have a street name and a town. But I am presenting my findings below, which show you how the abrasive effects of half a century really change things:
Gar’s Bakery and Leisure Laundry, 876 South Orange Avenue, Newark NJ, December 1974.
As late as 2015, the laundry building was still there, but with a different sign. Gar’s Bakery had vanished.
Latest street view (June 2022) shows that even the laundry is now gone.
Lawrence & River Streets, Paterson NJ, October 1970. The abandoned wooden building in the foreground reminds me of western “ghost town” architecture. A solid 19th century brick factory looms in the background.
The wooden building–long gone. First floor ruins of the brick factory are still visible.
1216 Atlantic Avenue, Atlantic City NJ, September 1973.
The building on the left may be the older Kents, but stripped of all its original character.
1706 Pacific Avenue, Atlantic City NJ, July 1973. The Victorian house, a reminder of when Pacific Avenue was an elegant residential thoroughfare, has been swallowed up by restaurants.
The poor decrepit Victorian is gone, along with Jem and White Tower.
Pacific Avenue, when it was a beautiful street.
97 Hamilton Avenue, Paterson NJ, April 1971.
No. 97, close up.
This old part of Paterson has been wiped out by urban renewal.
West Broadway, Paterson NJ, November 1970.
“You Are There” (enlarged).
Same view of West Broadway, October 2021.
Chichi’s Lunch, 475 Union Avenue, Paterson NJ, August 1969.
You can see how aluminum and vinyl siding covers over or strips away picturesque details on Victorian houses. The number of Victorians in Paterson which still have their original wood siding, porches, windows, doors, and ornamentation you could probably count on one hand. As a result, the city is much less charming than it once was.
An original Paterson Victorian, listed as being on North Main Street. I cannot find this house today.
Mulberry & Thomas Streets, Newark NJ, May 1973.
Conmar Zipper factory is now gone. One lone house (now red) remains recognizable.
Moses Market, Paterson NJ, April 1971.
If this is 497 Market Street, this is what it looks like now.
Close-up of modern-day signage.
House on the Passaic River (West Broadway bridge), Paterson NJ, December, 1968.
Old apartment house is still there, the wooden porches probably fell into the river; don’t think this will be around much longer.
Riverside Auto Sales, April 1971.
Billboard, Route 22, Hillside NJ, July 1974.
Factories at Spruce & Market Streets, Paterson NJ, April 1971.
The old factories were preserved as part of the Paterson Museum (Industrial Heritage Showcase).
River Street Station, Paterson NJ, September 1970.
As late as 2008 the steps were still there.
The steps were remodeled into a wall with a plaque reading “Bunker Hill”. How many individual messages have been plastered on that billboard over the years?
Newark skyline from Market Street, April 1973.
Wonder what happened to the church . . .
Naporano Wrecking Company, Newark NJ, April 1973.
Broad & W. Grand Streets, Elizabeth NJ, July 1972.
Peeking around the corner, old Adam Hat signage is still visible.
E. Grand & Broad, 1940s. Apparently Adam moved a block over at some point.
161 12th Street, Hoboken NJ, July 1973.
Except for the dark painted trim, things look mostly the same.
Hoboken, which somehow avoided blight, urban renewal, and superhighways, is really the only nice major city in New Jersey. It should serve as a fine example of how large scale historic preservation and care can make for a vibrant and attractive city.
However, before the preservation movement started, Hoboken did lose a major landmark:
Castle Stevens, designed by Alexander Jackson Davis, was built in the 1850s on a high plateau overlooking the Hudson River with a tremendous view of the Manhattan skyline. In the 1950s, the President of Stevens’ Board of Trustees stated: “It [the Castle] occupies a million dollar site which could be used for a far greater landmark.”
Here’s his Greater Landmark: In 1959, the Castle was demolished to make way for a new Student Center for Stevens Tech.
Grand staircase, Castle Stevens.
When looking at these “before & after” views, it occurs to me that New Jersey has less visual character today than it once had. A lot of fine, irreplaceable old buildings are gone, and there seem to be fewer small independent stores and industries than before. The cities (except Hoboken) are tattered shells of their former greatness. Yes, some blight and ugliness has been removed, but what has replaced it? Parking, vacant lots, and new development that seems generic and uninspired. Many surviving older buildings are now covered by vinyl siding and other disfigurements. There are still interesting places to photograph, but there are fewer of them. Scenic beauty can still be found in rural areas, but each year another farmer finds it more profitable to raise a new crop of condominiums instead of corn, hay, or cucumbers.
Mansion, Waterloo Village NJ, Summer 1974 (Author’s own photograph).
I can think of places that I wish Tice had photographed before they were gone (and some color Kodachromes would have been great to see), but I’m glad he did what he did and that we have what we have. I myself was really too young to fully participate at the time, but I did manage to take the above picture when I was eight, about when Tice was traveling around the state taking his pictures. And my picture does have certain Tice-ian overtones.
I don’t look quite the same now as I did then either. (I think this is the last time I did the dishes!)
Pulaski Skyway (Routes 1 & 9), Jersey City NJ, November 1977. (Photo from flickr by Andy Blair)
One thing has improved–it smells a lot better around here than it did then! It’s a good thing Tice didn’t record some of his images in Smell-O-Vision, or they wouldn’t be so appealing. There were certain factories in town that I didn’t like to go near because of the odor. And there were houses right next to those factories, and people were smelling that stuff all the time! But now all those factories are gone–we’ve exported a lot of our manufacturing (and our pollution) to places like China. Plus there were all those 50s-60s cars with no emission controls, all that leaded gas–yecch!
It’s amazing what people will put up with! How’d you like to have that in your backyard? Houses under the Bayonne Bridge (Route 440), Bayonne NJ.
Can’t we have both clean air and beautiful cities? I guess we’ll have to wait until 2100 or so . . .
“Between the Glorious Past and the Promising Future lies the crummy Now.” –Jean Shepherd
Great photos! Don’t ever stop. Thanks. This is how we preserve Americana, in photographs when the real items have been demolished or defaced into sterility.
Keep it up! I enjoyed the dickens out of this.
I do hope your first note was just rhetorical. Here’s the rhetoric…”Don’t stop.” OK, enough of that.
So much goodness here. I could look at these sorts of pictures, both the originals, but also the newer ones for comparison, all day long. Part of that is also due to the fact that I don’t consider all of the “before” pictures to show unalloyed goodness. I do tend to appreciate the earlier scenes of landscapes that have not yet been “defaced into sterility” (excellent phrase, Thomas!), but I can also sort of grapple with why some of that change has occurred. As with all human endeavors, one decision, based on the criteria being considered for that decision, based on who’s making the decision depends upon and drives additional decisions one after another…and we wind up with what we wind up with. MAYBE society today is a bit more aware of how that all of that works than our ancestors were; but probably not. As you say, it would be interesting to hear what the future in 2100 says about what we’re doing today.
To the cars, the Naporano junkyard picture amazes me. Taken in 1973, the majority of those cars waiting to be shredded/cubed are only about a dozen years old! I know it’s been said here before, but it’s just fascinating to me how short cars’ lifespans were back then.
12 years…that’s barely broken in! 🙂
Love the THENs and NOWs, although I’m not sure progress is as pleasing as the public was led to expect. Of course new buildings mean new electrical wiring, modern plumbing, and insulation (hopefully) and for those actually using these buildings, that’s not small stuff.
But no replacement buildings? That’s a case of paved paradise .
You’re on a roll Stephen with 100 great posts; don’t stop now.
I love this – I could happily spend all day looking at old photos of everyday places. Please keep going!
The lead picture of the Hackensack Sunoco station was Sunoco’s corporate architecture of the day. Our local Sunoco here in Fairfax, Va. looked exactly the same (pic. below, though obviously a far cry from Tice’s).
Gas stations with those porcelain enameled panels are mighty rare today, but we do have one still existing – it’s a repair garage that was originally built in the 1940s as a Texaco station. Somehow it’s managed to survive the decades with those outer panels intact.
It looks like the Garriss General Store building is still standing today:
I was born in Hoboken in the mid 60’s. Our house was were the ShopRite was on the Observer highway end of Washington Street. We moved out in 1968 when SR offered my parents a good sum and they wanted to leave the city.
They said later that they could sense the city was starting to change. Hoboken did begin a decline in the late 70s into the mid 80s. My aunt and uncle who also lived with us on Washington Street moved to Castle Point Terrace [which that area remained pretty nice] and rented a storefront on Washington Street for several years during the aforementioned time as a small snack shop, stationary/German Cultural products and magazine store. The German population was leaving in droves by then and several other [some prominent] businesses on Washington Street had already packed up. My aunt/uncle had the store for about 5 years but after being robbed 2xs in the last 6 months of their ownership, they packed it in as well and retired. That storefront remained closed for another 5-6 years during which it was vandalized and set on fire by squatters before being demolished. Parts of Hoboken didn’t really start to come back until the 90s. Today its a nice city to visit for the day, don’t know about living there; parking, noise, flooding still remain issues that have never fully been solved.
Great pics, I’m from Hyde park ny and totally enjoyed your sharing of the garden state…
Oh, and regarding your question of “How’d you like to have that in your backyard? – speaking from experience, you get used to it.
I grew up in a house that was right next to a state highway overpass. Our house was closer to the beginning of the overpass, so traffic went by at about roof level – our driveway paralleled a 30-40′ high concrete wall. It took my folks a while to get used to the traffic noise (esp. things like tractor trailers bouncing over the expansion joints), but eventually it just became background noise. As for me, as a kid I grew up with it, so it never bothered me. Believe it or not, I actually missed the traffic noise when I moved away.
Your post reminded me of when I was a little boy and my mother took me to visit her friend. She lived in an apartment house in Brooklyn, NYC with an “EL” (elevated subway) just outside her windows. I cringed whenever a train went by with the horrendous noise. Later when I got up the courage to ask her how she stood the terrible noise all day, she replied, “What noise?”.
I now have two books to add to the collection….thank you for sharing! And mazel on 100 posts!
100 posts? You’re just getting started!
I’ve driven through Paterson on I-80 a zillion times, but never explored the city at all. Yesterday, a friend & I went to the just-renovated Hinchliffe Stadium to see the NJ Jackals & Evansville (Indiana) Otters square off. In addition to a baseball game, we got to see the Great Falls of the Passaic River and the Lou Costello statue (his hometown), so a three-fer!
Re: that one billboard photographed in September 1970 in Paterson – I think it was only in 1970 that the new Duster was marketed as the “Valiant Duster”. By 1971, it appeared in the same brochure as the Valiant sedan, but was labeled as a separate model rather than as a style of Valiant.
Good stuff! Looking forward to the next 100 posts.
100 posts… AND counting!
Not only have you brought Curbside Classics to the party, you’ve also brought some Classic Curbsides. Please don’t stop!
I love these then and now observations. Every town should have such a book of photos. TAs this si a car site, The snap of a “wrecking yard” in April of 73 struck me as many of those vehicles were less than a deade old. Yes i know about tin worm, and the fact cars weren’t built to achieve the mileage todays cars do. I grew up in St. Louis Mo suburbia. Plenty of decade and older cars still patrolled the streets, usually owned then by tenns and early 20 somethings. but they were still far from heading to the knackers. and Missouri minicipalities did salt roads, and we did have weather. Just sad to see these now collectible beauties cut short.
100 posts? You’re just getting started. I’m at 6,930, and I’m not quite done yet.
So yes, keep them coming!
Great post! Here in Western Canada we didn’t have large manufacturing or industry based cities like these were; it’s fascinating to see the changes over the years in these photos.
In my hometown, the few early 1900’s buildings that remained were largely demolished or stripped of character in the 1950s in the name of progress.
Keep going, more posts please. I love this stuff.
Apparently the Central Methodist Church was destroyed by fire in the 1970’s.
Regarding architecture, I remember the great auto storyteller Peter Egan wrote in one of his columns “the line between pre and post war clearly drawn. Back then we cared, now we don’t”
It is fascinating to see just how vibrant cities like Hobo, JC and Paterson were as recently as the ’40’s when business was hopping and folks were swinging, with each other or at the enemy.
I’m sure that there were civil inequalities that 20 years later would fester into fires and riots and white flight, but having survived the depression years, the bustling downtown images are hearty. Juxtaposed with the reality checks of hindsight makes the loss palpable.
Stephen, I love this post. I too first came across George Tice’s work when I was quite young, in a photography book given to me as a teenager—and decades later I still consider him one of my favorite photographers.
Along with owning several of his books, I have a documentary on DVD that was produced about him some years back: “George Tice: Seeing Beyond the Moment”—you may have seen it, too? In it, he revisits with the filmmaker the location of what many would consider his most famous (and perhaps best) photograph: “Petit’s Mobil Station, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, 1974” (see screenshot). The station is clearly long gone, and as I recall (it’s been a few years since I’ve watched the documentary) the water tower is also no longer there, or at least is altered beyond recognition. At one time I did also find what I think is the correct location on Streetview, and when I have some time later I’ll try to find it again. A bit tough to do when the only info you have is “Cherry Hill”—as a local you might have much better luck than me.
His photographs capture what is now a bygone era, for sure, but also a kind of melancholy of post-industrial America that is reflected so beautifully in the work of another famous New Jerseyan: Bruce Springsteen. I’ve always felt Tice’s photos are like early Springsteen songs in visual form—or maybe that The Boss’s songs are like Tice photos set to music. It’s the reason I made a pilgrimage to New Jersey (from Manitoba, Canada) in the late ’80s in my rusty but trusty ’71 Datsun 510 wagon: I just had to experience this place. I did, and I loved everything about it.
Last note: This is of course Curbside Classic and not Artforum, so we have to also acknowledge the Mopar muscle parked out in front of the station, just waiting for the lone employee to finally get off his long night shift. What’s next for driver and car? Well maybe:
Tonight, tonight the highway’s bright
Out of our way mister you best keep
‘Cause summer’s here and the time is right
For racing in the street
And actually… I think I found it. My memory must be failing me because the gas station is in fact clearly still there. So this is one location that has changed remarkably little in nearly 50 years. Amazing.
Your comment was great! Glad you wrote in. Here’s a YouTube link to the documentary you mentioned (which I had never heard of). Trailer only.
Thanks Stephen! Not sure how you’d get access to the documentary these days (again I have it on DVD, purchased years ago), but it’s definitely worth a watch.
I guess you can’t include a pic in a reply? Here’s the Streetview image:
Pic won’t attach. I give up. 🙂
Try reducing the file size. If the picture is sized at 1,200 pixels or below (in the larger dimension), then it’ll attach here.
Ah, good to know, thank you. This should work.
Definitely keep going. I live in a small city glommed onto a larger metro area by decades of coagulating suburban sprawl, and I’d love to see this level of then/now for my town. There’s a lot of history here, some remains, much doesn’t, and it is fascinating to see the changes that have occurred in everyday America.
Thoroughly enjoy all of your exhaustively compiled articles Stephen. Thank you.
I was very fortunate that the small town I grew up in, was selected by Heritage Canada (a federal government department), for preservation. Over a million dollars was budgeted in 1979/1980 by Heritage Canada, for the restoration and preservation of downtown Perth, Ontario. Along with several other communities across Canada.
The work was painstaking. But the efforts to save one of Ontario’s most picturesque small communities, was well worth it. Perth has been chosen in the past as one of the prettiest towns in Ontario. And today, is a significant tourist destination in Eastern Ontario. No rural or urban decay to be seen here.
Explore the town’s website, and Google maps. You can see how beautifully preserved the architecture of 19th century Upper Canada, has been saved. Streets are safe for pedestrians, and the pace of life, is a bit slower. Explore everywhere, you can see it is one of the nicest small towns (under 6,000 pop.) in North America.
Town of Perth website: https://www.perth.ca/en/index.aspx#
Sample Google maps. Stewart Park. https://firstname.lastname@example.org,-76.2509172,3a,75y,271.08h,95.98t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1svbO37MXp9iUUbgfS9tCSqw!2e0!7i13312!8i6656?authuser=0&entry=ttu
Walking tour, shows the beauty.
I live for CC posts like this. In fact, some of the ones like this have promoted me to purchase photo books. Thank you, Stephen, and keep on keeping on!
Thanks, Joseph! I like reading your stuff too–combining Pop Culture with car sightings. Someday I hope to capture a classic “In Motion” and do a post on it. Hasn’t happened yet. You make it look easy!
Please DO keep up the writing, I enjoy them very much.
In 1972 I was stationed at Ft Dix, and was actively searching old Studebaker and Packard dealer locations using the factory’s dealer list from 1966. I bought the remaining stock of the Patterson Packard parts inventory at E. 25th & Market St. On one of my trips there I found the Riverside Used Car sign, still up on the poles, and I wanted it soooo badly. The car lot was long gone, and I was unable to find out who owned the property. Talked with a local cop who warned me not to take it down, and I’ve always wondered what happened to it.
I was also in Atlantic City in the fall of 1972, searching for another Packard dealer’s parts inventory, the location turned out to be part of the enlarged Atlantic City airport on Rt 40, and everything was gone. I was there on a Sunday and was looking for a place to have a cheap lunch, I stopped at the Jem, but it was closed, so I went to that White Castle in the photo. I remember that visit well. as it was my first AND LAST White Castle visit, I’m allergic to onions, and I learned they mixed chopped onions into the hamburger meat before cooking. This was probably in November of ’72, and my memory is that the Jem looked like it had been closed for a long time, and didn’t appear to even have any electricity as it was totally dark.
My best score was in Mount Holly, NJ, where I found the Vollman Packard dealer’s ENTIRE parts inventory had been put into the basement of the dealership owner’s Victorian home after he closed the facility at the end of 1956. When I saw the huge hoard and his asking price [“I won’t take less than $125.00, but you have to take it all”] I said Sold!
It’s truly amazing to me that you personally saw and recognized that USED CARS sign, and also you went to Jem and White Tower shown in the photo!
Turns out there IS a used car lot at 25th & Market. I’m guessing this is where the sign was?
The 25th & Market location was where the Packard dealership was located, not the Riverside Used Cars sign, that was several miles away. I saw the sign while driving to/from the dealership location.
It’s 50+ years later, so my memory isn’t perfect. I pulled up Google Maps to identify streets, but I think I’ve found the sign’s location. I remember the drive because I made a rough map so I could find it again, and looking at the Google street map I think I was headed north on Madison, then a left on Lincoln and in that general area was the sign. And Surprise — There is a note on Google Maps showing a Riverside used car lot at that location!
Please keep going Stephen, I love your posts about New Jersey and also the cars you write about.
A long time Springsteen & E Street band fan here from the early days, and like mentioned above, these old pictures call to mind Springsteen’s (best) early music.
I live on the other side of the globe and unlikely to be able to visit, and a lot of these places have vanished anyway, so your posts are much appreciated, even though if I don’t leave a comment.
Fascinating post Stephen, and please keep them coming!
So much to say; let me summarize:
First, it’s a good thing people like George Tice took photos of everyday life back then. When I first got a camera in the late 1960s, the common admonition was not to “waste film.” So like most people, I took pictures of family and friends, usually during special occasions, such as birthdays and weddings. Scenery was okay also, but usually it had to be beautiful in the conventional sense, and being on vacation was a plus.
Still, some of my most cherished early photos were those taken as part of a school project to depict our local surroundings; these would be sent to people south of the border in Mexico and Central and South America. (I kept duplicates for myself.) These contained photos of schools, churches, old and modern houses, local business districts and municipal buildings. Who knew in 1970 that so much would change?
You mention the smells back then. I grew up just a few miles downstream along the Ohio River from downtown Pittsburgh. Our house was on a hill above heavily industrialized Neville Island. When driving the length of the island, you’d experience one terrible smell after another. Sometimes, this bad air would waft over our house, especially on calm summer nights when the bedroom windows upstairs were open (no air conditioning of course).
Being from New Jersey, you’re obviously familiar with Cape May, the southernmost town in the state, along the Atlantic, and filled with colorful, well-preserved Victorian architecture. We pass through the area regularly now, as a side trip while on the way to or from our sons’ homes in the NYC area. My favorite oceanside stretch is the 900 block of Beach Avenue, as exemplified by the Google street view below.
And I LOVE the Pulaski Skyway, both the structure itself (newly rehabilitated) and the views of heavy industry below (power plants and container shipping).
It seems like a lot of Newark has been bulldozed, are there plans to put anything back? “Urban Renewal” feel smore like a scam when I see how fast the demolition happens and how slow new construction is. I regret that I didn’t get pictures of White Plains New York before the big NY Central station was demolished along with several surrounding blocks in the eraly 70s and mostly left vacant until the late 80s.
Great stuff, Stephen – I will add one more vote to keep ’em rolling.
I am also another who could look at old photos like these all day long. I wonder if anyone will ever become nostalgic for T-Mobile stores.
I love your contributions Stephen, thank you! Being from/living in Bergen County it’s fun to read your posts and see local spots or cars you write about.
The one pic of the Paterson Museum is notable as it’s the Rogers Locomotive Erecting Shop from the mid 1800’s, where over 5000 steam locomotives were built, in the earliest days of the country! The famous “General” (built in 1855!) is one of its most famous engines but some others still exist. Lots of history in that city, and like you said, it’s sad New Jersey has lost many of its interesting old buildings.
I just saw an exhibit of George Tice’s work at a local camera store here and loved seeing them, so it’s great you shared more here!
Keep them coming! Photographs like these are like freshly planted trees. They are first thought of with a vision of what future generations will see in them. If you don’t show them, we don’t see them. The whole point of these photographs is for future generations to see them. Keep them coming!!!