https://thombradley.wordpress.com/2014/01/14/nyc-automobile-row-2/ Walking along Broadway and 57th Street, I have often marveled at the large ground-floor windows and wondered why they were so large. An article in the NY Times mentioned that some of these buildings were part of an area was once called Automobile Row.
In the first decade of the 20th century what had been the carriage-making district of Broadway from Times Square to approximately 72ndStreet was becoming known as “Automobile Row.” The horseless carriage was rapidly taking over America’s roads with manufacturers cranking out around 200,000 automobiles a year. By 1910 the industry-related buildings would stretch as far as 110th Street.
News Item 1910 :The automobile had changed the complexion of Broadway and these Broadway buildings have become the sites, not of apartment houses, but of salesrooms and garages…To-day the automobile business has become so firmly established in this section that it is not likely to be displaced easily.”
Simultaneously the Peerless Motor Car Co. of New York, a branch of the Cleveland automobile manufacturing firm, planned its new showroom and headquarters. Peerless Motor Cars were the top of the line—luxury automobiles built for discriminating and wealthy consumers.
I imagine that some of the automobiles that may have been displayed and sold are ones you have never heard of before. Maybe in another log I will research some of these bygone marvels of the automobile industry.
In the 1950s there was the dealership that sold Hudson Hornets. And there was the storefront on Broadway that was once a Reo Motor Car showroom. (The company’s name took the initials of its founder, Ransom Eli Olds, better known for another car he had a hand in naming, Oldsmobile.) Also, Fiat took over a four-level store and showroom.
Many of the original buildings have been renovated or demolished but there are several that still exist and have enormous ground floor windows – I can only image that the latest automobile was showcased in these windows.
Some additional Photos, I hope will be of interest
In 1985, the last car dealer on Automobile Row, the stretch of Broadway from the West 50s to slightly north of Columbus Circle that was home to showrooms for almost as long as there had been cars. That year, he turned off the lights, locked the door one last time and left for 11th Avenue. It was one of those end-of-an-era moments.