CC Photography: Walking In The Footsteps Of George A. Tice

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.


North Main Street, Paterson. A Victorian with nearly all its decorative wood trim intact. 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.


2020 view.


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