Backstory: Jack Falat worked as a Bell Telephone lineman based in Rutherford, NJ throughout the 1970s. He was also a skilled and avid photographer, and took pictures of interesting scenes and subjects throughout the local area. His job enabled him to get to places that were usually off-limits to the general public. His flickr photos and website are a treasure-trove of fascinating images that show us the quaint aspects of New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and surrounding areas that once were so familiar, but are now disappearing with each passing year. For this post, I’m focusing on the car-related ones, with a few notable others included.
Patricia Cream one of the first woman pole climbing Bell System installers. 1958 Buick Century & 1960 Valiant Suburban Wagon. Willow Street. East Rutherford, New Jersey. Bell Telephone System parking lot. Circa 1981.
“Jumpin’ Jack”–Installer Repairman.
Paterson, NJ. 1953 Chevrolet Panel Delivery. Artistic Decorating Painting & Papering, phone LA5-6566. In front of 781 East 19th Street. Helmut W. Fehmer, 773 East 19th Street.
67 E. Central Avenue, Pearl River NY, circa 1984. (Note: A ’57 Dodge would have been a rare sight, even in 1984!)
Scranton, PA. E. Robinson’s Sons Ice House and Brewery. (Gone) 434-455 North 7th Street. Circa 1975.
Seaside Heights, NJ. Liquor Store. (Gone) West Central & Grant Avenue, circa 1975.
Fiat 600. Minetta Street & Minetta Lane, New York City, circa 1976.
Emil Whitey Tabor’s Red & White Tavern. 29 Wall Street. Passaic, New Jersey. 1977 billboards plastered over turn-of-the-century “Fletcher’s Castoria” painted sign.
Abandoned car, West Side Highway northbound, 11th Avenue at 19th Street, New York City, circa 1976.
110 W. 45th St., New York City, circa 1975. (Car has Jersey plates).
“Come!” (To Man’s Country.) Greenwich Village Cigars, 110 7th Avenue South, New York City, circa 1976.
Lincoln Tunnel tollbooths, Weehawken NJ, 1976. (I can’t identify the car in the left lane ahead of the Oldsmobile).
I remember when much of Newark NJ looked like this. 1151-1149-1147 Broad Street, circa 1975.
What replaced those old Victorians may be newer and cleaner, but utterly lacking in artistic character. The whole city is becoming “suburbanized” this way. (Source: Google Street Views).
Essex Storage Warehouse, 950 McCarter Highway, Newark NJ, circa 1976. Also gone.
This beautiful church sat on a hill and dominated the skyline of Boonton NJ for over 100 years . . .
. . . By the time Jack Falat got there in 1976–nothing but rubble! How could the town and its citizens allow this to happen?
Oldest curbside classic. The train station in Boonton still remains (just a few blocks from me), but I’ve never seen this horse-drawn wagon before!
Suffern, NY circa 1975.
22 Lafayette Avenue, Suffern, 1975.
Shafer Annex Building. Station Depot Square Restaurant. 16 Park Avenue, Rutherford, New Jersey. Circa 1975.
George A. Tice was another New Jersey photographer who was inspired by “gritty” urban scenes. This is Paterson NJ, August 1969. (Click image for greater detail).
“Junkyard Cars” by George Tice.
Tice’s “Hamilton Avenue” (Paterson NJ), April 1971.
I found Tice’s book of photos in the local library when I was in middle school. His work and others’ inspired me to take some similar-type photos of my own. Here are a few color photos from my own collection:
High St. (MLK Blvd.) & Sussex Ave., Newark NJ, 1987.
Old Westinghouse Factory (gone), Newark NJ, 1987.
Kastner Mansion, 176 Clinton Avenue, Newark. Burned in 2019.
. . . Not to be confused with the Krueger Mansion at 601 High St./MLK, which is still largely intact. (Photo by Diane Deaton Street)
Hotel Parkhurst, 11-13 Lincoln Park, Newark.
550 & 548 Springfield Ave., Newark, circa 2000.
Falls View Diner, Paterson NJ, 1986.
Paterson NJ, 1986.
Clinton NJ, 1992.
My backyard, early 1970s.
George Washington Bridge, early 1970s.
All I can tell you is this: If there’s a building, car, scene, person, or anything else that has a special aesthetic or emotional quality, I would suggest that you make the effort to take a good picture now, because the winds of change are always blowing, and everything is being overgrown by the weeds of time. Most of the once-familiar scenes in these photos (which are only a few decades old) have changed dramatically. I salute Jack Falat, George Tice, and others like them who thought to photograph what others ignored, and saw beauty and value in the authentic, gritty places that are now becoming harder to find.