by Kevin Walsh

In November 1964 the old man was lined up for one of the first buses to cross the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge from Brooklyn, and presumably I was with him as I also crossed the bridge that day. I didn’t think much of this particular photo in the batch, but a closer look reveals several infrastructural details.

For one thing, there’s a green and white “old look” General Motors bus at the stop. In 1964, they were sharing the road with GM “fishbowl” buses, named for their large glassy fronts, that first appeared in 1959. The “old looks” appeared in 1948 and were manufactured by GM and boxier ones by Mack (which I preferred). The “old looks” could be spotted on NYC streets as late as 1971 in Staten Island, and “fishbowls” ran until the early 1980s.

Readers have pointed out that the bus is a Mack, though I couldn’t tell, myself.

You can also see how signage has changed since 1964. The bus stop signs were relatively new and showed the “fishbowl” in the art. Bus stop signs today are circular-shaped and mounted on poles that also, until recently, showed the route and the schedule; today, you need a mobile phone app to see the schedule.

In 1964 and for several years after that, buses took a convoluted route to the bridge from here, running on 95th Street, Fort Hamilton Parkway, 92nd Street to the bridge ramp; returning here, it used 94th. Today, buses run to the main shopping street, 86th, and use 4th Avenue and 92nd.

In 1964 there were still hundreds if not thousands of “olive” stoplights on street corners. They were sued to control traffic at moderately trafficked intersections and employed only two lamps, red and green; the caution “amber” light was indicated by turning on both red and green lamps at once. Beginning in 1962, the city began painting stoplights yellow, but this didn’t become universal until 1965.

In 1964 there was a drugstore on the corner of 4th Avenue and 95th and there was a neon sign appended from a metal mast. Today, the Fort Hamilton Diner occupies the space, and its sign still uses the same metal mast.

Subway indicator lamps were different in 1964. Today, they are red and green globes (red for exits only and green for entrances open 24/7; with the Covid Pandemic, 22/7. Then, for both the IRT and BMT, there were multi-paned lights with green stripes for the BMT and blue for the IRT.

Lastly, we see Bell Telephone sign, with a bell on the art, indicating a public pay phone within.

Check out the ForgottenBook, take a look at the gift shop, and as always, “comment…as you see fit.” I earn a small payment when you click on any ad on the site.



Andy March 30, 2021 - 1:30 pm

Great posting Kevin, with infrastructure details I’m also old enough to remember! The blue sign for a public phone is especially nostalgic – always had to remember to carry a dime or two if I had to make a call. May I provide a few more details about the buses?
The bus shown is a Mack C49 model, built in 1956, and is actually a two-tone green color scheme. The light green top half must have faded in the photo. It was one of 318 such vehicles that only ran in Staten Island and southern Brooklyn. These buses were the last Macks ever purchased for NYC Transit Authority, as Mack stopped building buses in 1960. By then GM dominated the transit bus market. The GM fishbowls actually ran until 1995 on some NYC Transit routes, rebuilt models originally from the early 1970s.

Mack buses were also prevalent on Bronx and Manhattan routes that were part of Surface Transit, a private firm that NYC took over in 1962, Mack buses were used in some other big cities as well – Boston, San Francisco, and Buffalo all had them in the 50s and 60s; San Francisco’s lasted into the mid-70s.

Joe Fliel April 3, 2021 - 12:55 am

The Mack C49s were also used on the old B62 route from Box Street to High Street/Brooklyn Bridge through the early part of 1965. The former bus depot located on
Commercial Street was full of them, along with some first generation Fishbowls. As kids, my friends and used to play in them as they were parked with those wide front
doors opened. We always were chased out but always sneaked back after ten or fifteen minutes.

Charles F Seaton March 30, 2021 - 2:28 pm

The bus in the photo is a Mack

chris brady March 30, 2021 - 3:24 pm

I remember when the fishbowls came in.Though they were supposed to be roomier than the Macks,
they didnt seem to make a difference at rush hour.Twice I was carried thru Central Park on my way to
school because the grown ups crowded my 6 yr old self to death and I couldnt make the exit in time.

Peter March 30, 2021 - 3:27 pm

“with the Covid Pandemic, 22//7”
More accurately, “with the Covid Pandemic being used as a reason to skell the trains, 22/7′
My use of skell as a verb is patterned after the way one can worm a dog or weed a lawn.

Steven Olsen March 30, 2021 - 5:07 pm

Great memories! I grew up in this neighborhood and attended Saint Patrick’s school across the street from this scene.

One correction though. The bus in this picture is a Mack C-49 painted in the two tone green.

Raymond J Leone March 31, 2021 - 7:35 am

Drove over the bridge with my uncle the day it opened. Not may cars as I recall. Lived on Shore Pkwy so I saw the bridge being built .

Edward March 31, 2021 - 9:56 am

Funny that the TA provided one of the oldest buses in its fleet to drive over the world’s newest (and longest) suspension bridge. Staten Island routinely got the dregs of the NYC bus fleet, often after the coaches spent 10+ years being whipped in the other four boroughs. I remember riding those old-look buses as a kid in the early ‘70s and exiting via the driver operated back door. The bus route over the bridge had been the R-105 Staten Island crosstown (Port Richmond to South Beach), but for some reason was changed to the R-7 route when the bridge opened. Maybe Brooklyn already had a #105 route and they didn’t want to confuse riders?

Larry Silver March 31, 2021 - 10:46 am

I believe the bus in the photo is an “old look” Mack. If memory serves me correctly, “old look” Macks were the predominant bus model on Staten Island before the fish bowl GM’s. I am not
sure how many “old look” GM’s ran on Staten Island.

Nunzio March 31, 2021 - 9:16 pm

THIS is the kind of stuff I come here for! Thank you Kevin. More, more, MORE! (Hate to see modern pics, as I hate to see what that feces-excavation has devolved into).

Alan April 1, 2021 - 9:32 am

I was there on November 21, 1964, opening day for MY BRIDGE, so-called because I watched it being built. I recall being on the 2nd bus to depart (too far back in line to make the 1st bus). I think the fare was more than the regular 15 cent fare. Lots of traffic, as one would expect, and took a long time to make the round trip. I took the bus across again one year later, and that was a quick trip.

Mark Olesnicki April 11, 2021 - 6:14 pm

The C49 Macks were the best! Powerful, durable and dependable, but almost two tons heavier than GM buses. The Macks did a great job on 1st and 2nd Avenues in Manhattan. For more on Macks in Sweden and how the Scania company came up with the improved diesel engine used on the C49, see this link:


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