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Bill Cotter

The World's Fairest Store

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Gimbels Department Store proclaimed itself with that grand title. Here are two views from either 1964 or 1965.

gimbels-1.jpg

gimbels-2.jpg

Look at the sign over the door in the top photo - imagine that, the whole store is open until 6 PM. My, have things changed in the world of retail.

There were some signs on the doors with Unisphere logos.

These pictures were taken on Ansochrome, which has to have been one of the worst film stocks ever invented. I feel sorry for anyone who entrusted their family history to it. Here's how these pictures looked before any color corrections.

gimbels-1a.jpg

gimbels-2a.jpg

I haven't finished trying to tweak them, but once again I'm very glad that Photoshop is here for restoring things like these. Unfortunately when you bring back the color the slides show how badly they are suffering from mold, which there isn't any easy automatic fix for.

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Outstanding!

The vertical sign has a changeable neon "open till" area.
So it seems that 6:00 pm was not necessarily the normal closing time. Maybe 9:00 is the other?
The great Gimbels store is now the Manhattan Mall. Blech!

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Do you guys spot the flags of any countries which were NOT represented out at Flushing Meadow those two years? It looks pretty consistent, but I haven't checked out every one of them.

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By the way, the large white sign in the back is from "Englander - The Finest Name in Sleep" and it says that it was 92 degrees at 10:44 AM. Sounds like a good day not to be in Manhattan.

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I could read Englander, but was wondering what the digital readouts were for. Since it's right above a 'Loan' sign, I guessed (wrongly) that it was the current foreign exchange rates. :)

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Bill, what year is the oldest picture you have of the "moving type" message board in Times Square, that used to display the news?

It debuted WAY before digital computers, so I'm wondering how it worked when first built. It might have even been before punched tape or punched cards. So how were the messages entered and stored?

Maybe they had trained monkeys behind the board, running around throwing switches... LOL :D

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"On November 6, 1928, an electronic news ticker known as the Motograph News Bulletin (colloquially known as the "zipper") was introduced near the base of the building. The zipper originally consisted of 14,800 light bulbs and a chain conveyor system; individual letter elements (a form of movable type) were loaded into frames to spell out news headlines. As the frames moved along the conveyor, the letters themselves triggered electrical contacts which lit the external bulbs." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_Times_Square

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Thanks Wayne. I guess the Monkeys Union wanted too much money, so somebody got inventive. A chain conveyor system... very cool. :) Once again, necessity is the mother of invention.

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You mentioned Ansco. The company was located in Binghamton, NY and was a staple of a vibrant econmy in that part of New York for decades. It was actually quite old and dates to the turn of the last century. At one point, Ansco was "the official film" of Disneyland (in the 1960's, I believe). The production plant for Ansco closed in the 1970's in Binghamton and they built a new headquarters in suburban Vestal, NY, and some of those buildings remain. However, the Binghamton facility was a mess. It became a superfund site in the 1980's because of all of the chemicals that had been dumped and/or spilled for years.

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Bill, what year is the oldest picture you have of the "moving type" message board in Times Square, that used to display the news?

It debuted WAY before digital computers, so I'm wondering how it worked when first built. It might have even been before punched tape or punched cards. So how were the messages entered and stored?

Maybe they had trained monkeys behind the board, running around throwing switches... LOL :D

Hi :)

This idea I am told had its origins at Wanamaker's with a boy named David Sarnoff, a bit of chalk, little fear of heights and a ship called Titanic.

Eric

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I only visited Gimbels once or twice as a kid. Whenever I think of it--and I know it was a great store--I think of that scene in Auntie Mame when she, as a Macy's salewoman, was trying to sell roller skates to Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside . It turns out she could ony handle COD sales and her salesbook was a mess so Beau offers to assist her as he tried to buy two dozen pair of skates. Her boss catches on and reprimands her and then fires her. As she hurries out of Macy's she turns and shouts to Beau: "Don't forget the skates for the little nippers! GET THEM AT GIMBEL'S!"

I believe we were better off when each city had its own unique and wonderful department stores. New York's premier store was Macy's; Philly had Gimbel's;Boston had Filene's; Washington had Woodward and Lotrhrup; Chicago had Marshall Field; Detroit had J.L. Hudson, Crowley's and Jacobsens's; Syracuse had Dey Brothers and EW Edwards; Rochester had Sibley's and McCurdy's; Newark had Bambergers; Cleveland had Higbee's. The list goes on. The Department Store Museum chronicles all of these once great establishments. It is worth checking that website. These stores provided tradition and flavor for their respective communities which was so much better than the homogenized, exactly-the-same stores we see today.

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Thanks for the heads up about The Department Store Museum, Jim.
Through it, I discovered a new book about our beloved Indy D-Store, L.S. Ayres.
Never knew the book existed!

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