Mystery Photo #53: Commonwealth Avenue?

This old photo of someone’s hot rod seems to be from the early 1970s and the scene is very likely Commonwealth Avenue in Gary-New Duluth. But if this is showing Commonwealth Avenue, where specifically?

Back in April I drove out to Gary to visit a mechanic and on the way I stopped at my best guess, facing north across the street from the Alpine Bar.

It didn’t seem to match up well, so when I visited the mechanic I showed him the photo and asked if he had any theories. “You’re shooting in the wrong direction,” he said. “Shoot south toward Boy Scout Landing.”

So on my way home I gave it another shot.

In general this perspective seemed to match up even less, except for the Shotz Bar building between the two gas stations, which seems to closely resemble the building in the center of the old photo. If one imagines the gas stations replaced a few of the buildings in the old photo, then maybe this is the right location.

However, just as I was starting to believe, a guy drove up and got out of his car. I happened to be standing in front of the building he lives in, so I showed him the photo. He told me he has lived in that area his entire life, and that the old photo faces the Boy Scout Landing direction, but I was standing too far north. “It’s not these buildings,” he said. “Go south about four blocks.”

So I did.

From the 500 block of Commonwealth southward, nothing seemed to match up. Certainly some buildings in the old photo are gone now, but there must be enough left for the dirty black-and-white relic to line up with something.

So now I put it out there for the world. Was the mystery photo shot on Commonwealth Avenue? Where specifically? What kind of car is that? Can you name any background buildings?

Any clues at all are welcome.

13 Comments

DECk37

about 4 years ago

It's further down, closer to Boy Scout Landing, taken between Peary and Heard Street. (see image)

Ramos

about 4 years ago

I think your first guess was right. I believe that the photographer was facing east toward Morgan Park and downtown. It's the big ridge in the background. That's where Magney-Snively and Skyline Parkway are. When you look toward the other end of Gary, the ridges that you see are not nearly as close or prominent, because they're on the other side of the St. Louis River. The second-farthest-away building in your picture matches the farthest building in the old picture. My two cents.

TimK

about 4 years ago

The car looks MOPAR -- not quite a Barracuda -- maybe it's the uber-rare Dart GTS. Mannix drove a convertible version in season 2, I think.

Paul Lundgren

about 4 years ago

The ridge Ramos mentions is why I was initially thinking north. The ridge on the Wisconsin side of the St. Louis River is less prominent in my mind, but it might be more prominent than we think when the photographer's angle is just right.
 
The comments on Facebook are leaning in Deck37's favor:
 
Lori Peters Wimmer: I believe it is more in the 300 block. Facing the Boy Scout landing. It seems the bus would almost be in front of what is now the laundromat. It was at one point Mega's drive-in. That's my guess. I have also lived out here many a year. 
 
Nancy Beatty Lind: Think it is around Peary Street with Rask's gas station on the left and a little farther down Leaf's Store which was a block from which used to be Wahlberg/Megas drive-in.
 
Sandy Boben: We lived at 505 Commonwealth ... I think Lori is right  ... farther down ... Rask's was across the street from us.
 
Jessica Belich: That is Commonwealth Avenue and Heard Street. I know that intersection well, it leads to my childhood home. You can see Mega's Drive-in in the background, that is now a laundromat.

Paul Lundgren

about 4 years ago


 
The front grill and bumper of the Dart GTSes on Google image search don't seem to match.

Ramos

about 4 years ago

I'd like to change my answer to agree with Deck37 and the majority. I just went out there and snapped a few pictures.
 
1. The ridge on the south end of town is every bit as prominent as the one on the north end. It was only smaller in my mind's eye.
 
2. The furthest building in the old photo has several large conifers growing next to it. Today, the building at the south end of town is almost completely hidden by bigger, bushier conifers, which one would expect 40 years later.
 
3. If the old photo had been facing north, as Paul and I originally thought, the building that houses the Limit Bar today should have been in there. The date on the building says it was built in 1914. It's not there.
 
4. The faint shadows cast by the car's wheels in the old photo are almost at right angles across the road. Assuming the picture is facing south, it would have had to been taken in the evening when the sun was in the west. I went there in the evening, and the shadows seemed to be at almost exactly the same angle.
 

Ramos

about 4 years ago

5. Oh, and the southern ridge line matches the ridge line in the old picture very well. It's a little fuzzier today, since the trees still have their leaves, but it looks right.

Bob L

about 4 years ago

OK... now lets solve the car question - I believe it's a 1967 Plymouth Cuda.

Paul Lundgren

about 4 years ago


 
Recrops for better comparison. I believe Deck34, Ramos and four ladies on Facebook win the internet today.

Paul Lundgren

about 4 years ago


 

 
1967 Plymouth Berracuda looks like a damn good match.

TimK

about 4 years ago

The angle in the original doesn't show that swept back as well as the stock pic which made me think it wasn't a Baracuda. I learned to drive in a '68, which had a more pronounced curve to the rear window.

jcandrea

about 4 years ago

You're getting close on the car. It is a Plymouth Barracuda. It is not a '69. It could be either a '67 or '68, but it's impossible to tell from that angle (the side marker/reflectors are the only distinguishing characteristics for those two years). 
 
There were two tear roof lines available ... a Fastback, and a Nothchback (coupe). The Notchback is shown in the vintage Duluth picture.
 
I'm currently restoring a 69 Notchback Barracuda.

maestro710

about 3 years ago

Bonus points if you can figure out who's behind the wheel.

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