Friday Flashback #278

The other day, Steve Baldwin uploaded a treasure trove of photos to Facebook.

Taken in December 1967 — more than 50 years ago — they show a downtown that is both substantially different from, yet basically the same, as today.

The Post Road (aka State Street)/Main Street intersection shown below included Muriel’s Trolley Diner (underneath the traffic light), a smoke shop, and a row of wooden buildings that later burned to the ground. We also see a car turning into what was apparently 2-way traffic on Taylor Place.

The handsome building on the right — more obscured today — was the Westport Public Library. In front was a public park, taken over around that time by young people hanging out, playing guitars and (according to lore) selling and using drugs — hence the nickname “Needle Park.” Today that downtown oasis — meant to be open space in perpetuity — has been smothered in concrete.

This shot, looking north on Main Street, includes Welch’s — one of 3 hardware stores on the block — and, beyond the 3-story building, Greenberg’s. Within no more than a year or two of this photo, that decades-old store selling things like needles and thread closed. It was a victim of a roof collapse after a heavy snow, and changing tastes in retail.

Check out the traffic light in the middle of Main Street.

A few yards further north, we see Charles Food Store (one of 2 grocery markets on Main Street), and just beyond it, Sport Mart (before its 2nd floor was built). Although these photos were taken in December, the only Christmas decorations seem to be a few wreaths on Sport Mart.

Note the 2-way traffic on Main Street, too.

This view of Main Street, looking south, includes Klein’s department store — later Banana Republic — on the left  before its 2nd story was added on.

Thanks, Steve Baldwin, for these photos. Note to “06880” readers: We’re always looking for Friday Flashback images. If you’ve got good ones, please email dwoog@optonline.net.

20 responses to “Friday Flashback #278

  1. Luisa Francoeur

    What fun to see the photos and remember how downtown looked back then.Thanks.

  2. Wow, today’s newcomers would be horrified to have a downtown so…middle class! They’d be calling for, In the words of one 06880 commenter last week regarding our strip malls that lack glitz: the best solution would be to “tear down the whole horrid place and start over.”

  3. Dan in the north bound shot you didn’t note the car ignoring the no parking here to corner sign 🙂

  4. As a very young child I remember Needle Park was overgrown like a jungle and funny movements, smells and sounds originated from there…

  5. Sylvia Robinson Corrigan

    How I miss Klein’s – the bookstore (and camera, record and stationery store), the Barnes and Noble of its day! A black and white photo of the outsides of these places does not tell the whole story!

  6. Chip Stephens SHS 73

    I remember walking downtown the morning after the Greenberg’s roof collapse which we heard about on WMMM. It was wild as the glass store front survived allowing a glimpse into a winter snowfall and demo roof debris covering all their goods. They moved to the brand new building, next to then old Post Office, for a year or so before Baskin Robbins replaced them for decades to follow,

  7. Those pics really bring it back. First ski package came from The Sport Mart sometime in the early 70’s – and no, they were not all wood with spring bindings and leather boots. No memory though of a Rico Salon.

  8. Such wonderful memories of two way traffic on main street, Kleins and Greenberg’s. I learned to sew with fabric, patterns and more from Greenberg’s. Bought my first pair of “Bermuda Shirts” there. They were the brand new In clothing item at the time. And once upon a very long time ago wasn’t there a Woolworth’s?

  9. There was not a Woolworths, but a Ben Franklins, a competitor. A similar store called McClellans replaced the original Food Fair in the Como Shopping Center in the late 1950s. On th east side of Westport, the Westfair Pharmacy had its own compact variety store, along with a post office, fountain and, of course, pharmacy.

    • Westfair Pharmacy was owned by Paul Zadoff, who used to bowl at our lanes. Those days are gone when small family pharmacies thrived.

  10. Dan – Many thanks to Steve Baldwin!

  11. Peter and Pat Kelley, Centerport, NY

    Marvelous photos of times gone by in Westport! Of personal note for me was the last pic featuring a view of Klein’s, with my old 1960 Rambler wagon, it’s tail end towards the camera across the street. The unmistakeable tag number and my Columbia U. window sticker jumped out and rang big bells in my memory! I had purchased that well-used car in 1966 from my friends Bob Walsh and Don Horberg, the owners of Westport Center Chevron, who acted as agent for its previous owner, the actor Jack Klugman. Bob and Don had told me that Klugman had used it as a station car and would let it go for the princely sum of $25.00 to get it off their lot. And I just needed a cheap car that I could park worry-free on the streets in NYC, where I lived post-USAF while a student at Columbia. As the photo of the car was taken sometime in December 1967, later that month my new bride Pat and I drove it to Vermont for a skiing honeymoon. The old wagon broke down on December 30th, our wedding night, in Springfield Mass on our way to the slopes. We coasted it with a dead motor right into a gas station off the 1-91 ramp, just as it was closing for the New Year’s weekend. The kind owner loaded our bags and skis into his truck, and with his good wishes, took us to a motel in West Springfield where we spent our wedding night! The next day we rented a new car and resumed our trip to Vermont, where we had a delightful few days. An unexpected way to begin our marriage, but a wonderful adventurous memory we’ll never forget! And that old car lived on and took us safely, with few subsequent repairs, for another 35,000 miles!

  12. I think the charm of the town in the 60s, and also in the 50s and 40s, was that there was NOT the uniformity in buildings that seems a goal today. Uniformity is boring. And I remember all of those stores back then.

  13. ADDED THOUGHTS . .NEXT TO “NEEDLE PARK” WAS A CHINESE RESTAURANT FOLLOWED BY WELCHES HARDWARE, WESTPORT FOOD MARKET, CHARLES MARKET, GREENBERGS DEPARTMENT STORE WHICH I THINK COLLAPSED UNDER THE SNOW, SOME KIND OF SODA SHOP WHERE HENRY KLEIN USED TO EAT , A LITTLE GIFT SHOP (CANT REMEMBER NAME) THE SPORT-MART, DORAIN’S DRUGSTORE, ANN TAYLORS, OSCARS DELI , BILLS SMOKE SHOP, SWEZY’S JEWELERS, WESTPORT HARDWARE [NAT GREENBERG/TEDDY BROIDO] BURNED DOWN AND BECAME 125 MAIN STREET [HOUSING VARIOUS], WOMEN/S CLOTHING STORE, I THINK . . . . . THE REMARKABLE BOOK STORE. WILL HAVE MORE TO OFFER LATER. RE THE OTHER SIDE OF MAIN STREET

  14. the Chinese restaurant was Westlake. And next door to it was “the Liverpool shop,” where Hank and Jeff presided which was in between Westlake and Welch’s Hardware .

  15. WHAT WAS THE LIVERPOOL SHOP?

  16. Wonderful photos; even more wonderful memories. This is the first time it’s begun to feel like a long time ago. Which it was, of course. That said, memories carry the day and elicit smiles. I spent my Klein’s paycheck at Country Gal, The Selective Eye, Aspasia Jewelry, and Isabel Eland. Wonderful meals and gatherings at Ship’s, Westlake, La Bibliotheque, Soup’s On, MacKenzie’s across from Klein’s, and the Peppermill on the Post Road. Don’t remember the “Liverpool Shop”.

  17. one word AWESOME- again growing up here, blessed to have experienced the “two way Main Street traffic” we all knew the shop keepers, as they were our friends and neighbors. Thank you Dan and Steve

  18. WONDERFUL DAYS – I REMEMBER WALKING A DOG ACROSS MAIN STREET WITH NO TROUBLE AT ALL. ON THE CORNER OF ELM AND MAIN WAS A GAS STATION NEXT TO HARTMANS HDWR AND THE LIQUOR LOCKER. ON THE OTHER SIDE OF ELM STREET WAS A PERSONAL RESIDENCE SUBSEQUENTLY PURCHASED BY BABS BROOKS AND BECAME BROOKS CORNER. NEXT WAS THE TEUSCHER PROPERTY AT WHAT IS NOW 142-148 MAIN STREE. ATTY JOHN BOYD HAD HIS OFFICE IN “144” THE MOST NOTABLE TENANT GOING BACK TO 1958 WAS CHEZ PIERRE. FROM THERE TO AVERY STREET WAS ACORNS PHARMACY AND ??. DIAGONALLY ACROSS MR. HYMAN [SAM?] CREATED A SHOPPING AREA, PARKING AND A VERY FASHIONABLE MENS CLOTHING STORE. I THINK THE NAME WAS PACK ROADS.. I LEAVE IT TO OTHERS TO FILL IN THE MAON STREET BLANKS

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