Monday, January 9, 2017

Another Downtown Lorain – Then & Now

Here’s a postcard (above) of Downtown Lorain that I’ve never seen before. It’s kind of an unusual view in that it doesn’t include the Broadway Building or Loop area, which were seen on many postcards through the decades.

This postcard – published by Ohio Natural Color Card Company of Cleveland, Ohio – is offbeat for other reasons as well. The west side of Broadway is completely cloaked in shadow, including the Ohio Turnpike sign on the light pole. Parked cars seem to dominate the scene, and there are no visible store names on the buildings.

At least it gives the appearance of a somewhat healthy, bustling downtown. The back of the undated postcard stated that "About 600 retail stores are located in this area."

What’s the date of the postcard? I’m guessing it’s from the mid-to-late 1950s, mainly because the Ohio Turnpike opened in 1955. It also predates the use of modern zip codes in 1963, since both the printer and the company that did the color work (Howard Studios) use the old two-digit postal area codes as part of their addresses listed on the back of the card.

As for my sleepy “now” shot from last weekend (before the snow hit us again this week), it’s hard to believe it’s the same view. It’s cleaner, that’s for sure.

Gone is the Lorain Block, home to the Moose Lodge (at 361-371 Broadway) seen in the “then” photo. Also missing are all of the addresses between the still-standing Duane Building (at 401 Broadway) and 445 Broadway (where the now vacant Driscol Music store building is).
And the entire west side of Broadway seen in the vintage photo – from West Erie down to Fourth Street – is history.


Tim Burton said...

Wow! Somewhat hard to believe but a sad demise of cities and towns in the Rust Belt that were once considered the backbone on the American economy, primarily due to industry. That was certainly the case with Lorain in the '50s. As a Lorainite, (I was born in '54) I certainly have vivid memories of how Lorain appeared much as in the 'then' pic before the fam moved to Denver in '67. When you think about it, the Lorain population was probably peaking about the time the pic was taken, sometime around the mid to late '50s. I've been back only a few times, once in '99 and again in '13 and each time a little more of downtown had faded away. Very depressing to see especially when you think of how attractive Lorain can be geographically, considering its close proximity to the lake. My Mother sometimes talks about how bustling the city was when she was growing-up, especially emphasizing how difficult it was just to simply walk down the sidewalks due to the ever-present crowds of people. The decline is rapidly approaching 60 years now and I can only hope for the best going forward for my hometown.

Anonymous said...

Very sad😓 I grew up in the 50th. Lorain was the best!!

Silver Spring: Then and Again said...

I was home last month and it pains me to drive down Broadway and seeing all of the gaps in the commercial frontage.
Praying for the Broadway Building...