Dr. Patrick’s Postcard Roadside

New York City’s West Side Piers

A circa-1960 postcard shows New York City’s Transatlantic Steamship Terminal in the Hudson River between 44th and 54th streets.

The terminal with its 1,000-foot piers was opened by the city in 1935 to accommodate longer ocean liners that could no longer be accommodated at Chelsea Piers. A line-up of famous midcentury ships are docked at the terminal including the American Export Lines’ SS Independence (1951), the US Lines’ SS America (1939), and SS United States (1952), the Greek Line’s SS Olympia (1953), USS Intrepid (1943), the Cunard Line’s RMS Mauretania (1938), RMS Queen Elizabeth (1946) turning into its berth.

On April 7, 1963, this promotional photograph was set up to catch the United States Lines transatlantic sister ships, the SS America and the SS United States, passing in the Hudson River. This normally took place out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. They are passing the Pennsylvania Railroad’s West Side Yard, now the location of Hudson Yards. Bound for a refitting in Thailand, the SS America broke its tow and ran aground in the Canary Islands in 1993. The SS United States, still the transatlantic speed record-holder from 1952, is docked in Philadelphia awaiting an unknown fate.

In the age of the Titanic, transatlantic ocean liners docked at Chelsea Piers between 12th and 22nd streets. Like the later Transatlantic Terminal, Chelsea Piers were built to accommodate longer steamships. Warren and Wetmore completed them in 1910, in the same year and Neoclassical style as McKim, Mead & White’s Penn Station. Piers 59 through 61 were leased to White Star Lines. The Titanic was bound for Pier 59 when it sank in 1912.

The SCA’s boat trip around Manhattan scheduled for June 19, 2022, will sail from Chelsea Pier 62 in one of these two 1920s-style yachts, the Manhattan, or the Manhattan II.

Chelsea Pier 54 was leased to White Star rival Cunard. The 706 survivors of the Titanic were brought to this pier by the Cunard Line RMS Carpathia. The steel framework is all that remains of Warren and Wetmore’s original Neoclassical pier portal. The words “Cunard-White Star” are barely visible painted after their 1934 merger. This is now the location of Heatherwick Studio’s Little Island, part of the Hudson River Park being assembled along the west side of Manhattan.

CEDAR TOURIST COURT, Clay Center, Kansas.

Westward across the plains of Kansas, US 40 originally split at Manhattan with the south branch following the Victory Highway through Salina (current US 40), and the north branch following the Midland Trail through Clay Center.

By the time this postcard of the Cedar Tourist Court was published in the 1950s, the road through Clay Center had been resigned US 24. This gas, food and lodging one-stop was depicted with its owner’s headhouse, a couple of graphic stripes and a rustic log script; homey but Modern. The Cedar Tourist Court still stands on the east side of Clay Center with the coffee shop now occupied by El Puerto Mexican Restaurant.

Gary’s Duck Inn, Orlando, Florida.

Gary Starling opened Gary’s Duck Inn on the Orange Blossom Trail just south of Orlando, Florida, in 1945.

The original form, a one-floor Modern International-style dining room with corner windows attached to a little roadside cottage, can still be detected in this 1950s postcard showing the restaurant after a rakish midcentury Modern remake. Gary sold the popular seafood restaurant in 1963 to a group of investors that included Bill Darden and Charley Woodsby who went on to open the first Red Lobster in nearby Lakeland in 1968. Overwhelmed by fast food chains eventually built along South Orange Blossom Trail, Gary’s Duck Inn closed in 1994. The site is now a 7-11 store and a Dollar General.

Gary Starling built his Duck Inn on the Orange Blossom Trail, marked out as the main tourist highway through central Florida in 1934. Gary’s Duck Inn was just south of the Orlando intersection that joined US 441 traffic from the Midwest with US 17 traffic from the Northeast. Gary’s was also well positioned when Interstate highways replaced this older Federal Routes. Construction began on the Florida Turnpike in 1957 and Interstate 4 a year later. Gary’s sat just north of the turnpike, completed in 1964, and south of I-4, opened in 1965. Gary’s location relative to the highways of central Florida just as plans were being made for nearby Disney World certainly made the well-known seafood restaurant attractive to investors.