On the Road in 1962
Highway US-1 is one of the longest US-numbered routes, running from Fort Kent, Maine at the Canadian border down to land’s end at Key West, Florida: 2,377 miles. It mostly runs near the Atlantic Ocean coast and passes through the largest metropolitan areas in the country, including New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington DC. We crossed US-1 on both of our Roadtrip-'62 ™ journeys. US-23 hit it just a few miles north of Alma, Georgia and rode with it to the end in Jacksonville, Florida. And our US-6 trip crossed it in Providence, Rhode Island. An interstate freeway, I-95, now runs roughly parallel to US-1 for most of its length, but it was only in bits and pieces back in 1962. I won’t make any definitive lists about attractions on US-1, because this route has been written about for decades and also featured on TV shows. After all, it’s #1! It is also the longest north-south US-numbered route. But let’s see what places I can find that opened or began in 1962: that will be different.
Highway US-1 passes through every one of the original 13 states except Delaware. That’s a lot of territory and during 1962, a lot of new buildings, roads, and other places opened. And we’ll also find some other firsts from that year. Starting near the north end of US-1, at Lubec, Maine, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Bridge opened for traffic in 1962. This is an international bridge, connecting Maine with Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada across the Lubec Narrows. This steel truss bridge is named for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who maintained a summer retreat on Campobello Island, which is now preserved as Roosevelt Campobello International Park. It is the island's only year-round, roadway connection to the mainland, though there are ferry connections to New Brunswick. I drove this route once, taking one of the ferries to the island from within Canada and then driving back home into the United States. This international bridge at the most eastern point in the United States is owned half by the State of Maine and half by Canada.
America was well into building the interstate highway system by 1962, so we can also find a number of freeways that opened that year. Rhode Island opened its portion of I-195, then known as I-95E, in 1962. The freeway ran only from US-1 in Providence, Rhode Island to Bedford, Massachusetts, but now continues farther east. Farther south, Baltimore, Maryland completed two new freeways in 1962. Many pieces of freeway constructed that year were unconnected, but the Baltimore Beltway was the first urban beltway completed in the interstate system. When opened, it was a 6-lane, 36-mile-long freeway bypass of the city, which connected via the Harbor Tunnel Thruway that was opened in 1957, to make a full freeway circle by cutting through Baltimore. It became a 53-mile full circle bypass of the city in 1977 when the eastern portion was completed across the Outer Harbor. This freeway, which bypassed US-1 through Baltimore, was signed as I-695 and took 10 years of construction at a cost of $68 million.
The other freeway completed in Baltimore during 1962 was the Jones Falls Expressway. This project was first conceived in 1943, with preliminary plans for the expressway made in 1951. Ground was finally broken in 1956 and the first section of the Jones Falls Expressway opened in 1961. Because the area along the route was heavily used by industry, and the original planning was so old, ramps were too short and curves were too tight for the more modern interstate highway standards. However, the project was funded and ultimately signed as I-83. Farther south, the William B. Singer Expressway became the third freeway to open in Dade County, Florida. It was signed as I-95 and ran just a few blocks from US-1 through Miami. The Palmetto Bypass, farther west and wrapping around the metropolitan area, also opened in 1962.
The new freeways helped change how people traveled, allowing the growth of the lodging industry beyond the small motels that had been the hallmark of travel for the past several decades. Kemmons Wilson started Holiday Inns in his home city, opening four there by the end of 1953, one on each main highway leading into Memphis. By 1962, Holiday Inns was undergoing major expansions nationwide, opening at the rate of two new motels every week! The company even published a magazine for guests, the Holiday Inn Magazine. One of the new motels was in Attleboro, Massachusetts, at an interchange of I-95 with US-1 ALT, near the border with Rhode Island. It was a 120-unit motel with a restaurant and was open for 30 years before being torn down to make way for a Home Depot and the Bristol Place shopping plaza.
The opening of freeways for fast travel also accelerated the move to the suburbs all over the country. This in turn, created opportunities and changes in daily functions that used the highways, and retail stores took advantages of these opportunities. In 1962, Cumberland Farms opened the very first modern convenience store in the Northeast, just 10 miles from US-1 in Bellingham, Massachusetts. The owners had been in the dairy business for many years and opened their first retail store there in 1960. The convenience store came about when they decided that you could sell a lot more than just dairy products, and added groceries, beverages, health, and cosmetics. By 1972 they began selling gasoline at some of their stores and today there are almost 600 stores in 8 states. Other types of discount stores also popped up, such as the first Dressbarn store, which opened in Stamford, Connecticut, another city on US-1. By 1963, the owner, Roslyn Jaffe, opened a second store. They grew with the suburbs and today there are over 800 Dressbarn clothing stores across the country.
The new highways and suburbs also allowed stores to group together into virtual new downtowns, but with plenty of free parking. The Reisterstown Road Plaza was opened in 1962 in the Baltimore area, part way between the old downtown and the new Baltimore Beltway. There were over 16 stores in the plaza at the time. The grand opening was such a big event that local television station WMAR broadcast its Dialing for Dollars show from the plaza! The station was one of dozens around the country that had a Bozo the Clown show, with a local actor playing the part live between running cartoons. So of course, they brought along their Bozo the Clown for the day. And so that no one in Baltimore could miss the grand opening, radio station WCBM simulcast the event too!
Florida also had its share of new shopping centers opening in 1962, including Dadeland, which was located strategically in a triangle between US-1, Kendall Drive, and the Palmetto Bypass, in the Miami area. Another shopping center opening in 1962 in Florida is the Coral Ridge Shopping Cente in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. This shopping center is right on US-1, just a few blocks from the Atlantic Ocean. Though many centers were just a collection of standard stores, Coral Ridge’s Publix supermarket was something special. They had established a unique “winged” façade as part of their brand a few years earlier, and this store built on that with other architectural features that turned it into a piece of art. Some of the most striking features were the beautiful, intricate mosaic murals at the entrance. These were created by San Francisco-based artist John Garth, who was well-known for similar murals in Safeway’s supermarkets on the west coast. His Safeway work tended to show historical themes, but Garth chose a blue-eyed, blonde grocery goddess in a white gown for Publix, surrounded by food-industry workers bringing beef, citrus, lobsters, watermelons and other bounty of the farms. The interior floors were a green-and-white striped terrazzo, with walls of frescoes, air-conditioning, and comfortable Muzak music playing in the background. What a way to shop! The store still exists as an outbuilding of the Coral Ridge Mall, though it has been remodeled.
Besides highways, other modes of transportation also changed in 1962 and could be found along US-1. Some changes were odd or brief, such as Greenwich, Connecticut’s attempt at eliminating police foot patrols by providing officers with Cushman scooters. New York City experimented with the first automated subway cars, from Times Square to Grand Central station. Despite lasting only about two years, the automation provided the basis for automated technology on the BART system in San Francisco when that began operation in 1972. But perhaps the most prominent transportation changes outside of interstate highways were the new airport facilities opened in 1962. Also in New York, Trans World Airlines (TWA) opened their new terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport, which was then called Idlewild Airport. The distinctive curved architecture was designed by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen, who designed many curving structures. The design could be described as Futurism, Googie, or Fantastic architecture. On the inside, the terminal was one of the first with enclosed passenger jetways, closed circuit television, a central public address system, baggage carousels, electronic schedule board, and the clustering of gates away from the main terminal. Both the interior and the exterior were declared a New York City Landmark in 1994 and the building has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2005. A new hotel that will use part of the original terminal is under construction and expected to open in 2018.
Washington, DC’s Dulles International Airport also in opened 1962, and its main terminal was also designed by Saarinen. The terminal was recognized in 1966 by the American Institute of Architects for its design concept featuring a suspended ceiling, providing a wide enclosed area without columns. It was originally opened at only half its designed length, and extended to Saarinen’s full design length of 1,240 feet in 1996. The airport is named after John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State under President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The first scheduled flight at Dulles was an Eastern Air Lines flight from Newark International Airport in New Jersey on November 19, 1962. The airport was initially considered a white elephant, because it was far out of town and serviced few flights. In 1965, it averaged only 89 airline operations a day while DC’s other airport, National Airport, averaged 600. But this second airport proved necessary, as by 2007 Dulles served 24.7 million passengers.
Many schools also opened in 1962, though generally less architecturally spectacular than these two airports. Dundee Elementary School in Greenwich, Connecticut was opened in 1962, and was one of the first schools designed for “team teaching.” Team teaching was a new concept at the time that attempted to change the traditional model of elementary schools, which had a single teacher for each classroom. Instead, each classroom had several teachers and the students were divided into teaching groups, sometimes based on subject. The classrooms at Dundee were set up such that furniture and storage was placed in central areas instead of spread through the entire room, to make it easier to keep things out of the way when they were not being used. The classrooms were also arranged with moveable walls, so they could be used by variable sized groups: in their largest configuration, they could hold up to 300 children. Other schools that opened in 1962 in communities along US-1 were Hoboken High School in Hoboken, New Jersey, and Ledyard High School in Ledyard, Connecticut. Ledyard’s secretary, Irene Schultz, served at the school since its opening until her retirement in 2015, serving under all six principals of the school!
Other major buildings completed in 1962 include sports arenas and event centers, sometimes combined. The Jacksonville Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts originally opened as the Civic Auditorium in 1962. The center, in Jacksonville, Florida, consists of three venues: a theatre; concert hall and recital hall. It is home to the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, which was the featured performance on its opening day. The center was a replacement for the aging Duval County Armory, and has been renovated during 1995-1997. In Baltimore, Maryland, the current Royal Farms Arena opened as the Baltimore Civic Center in 1962, just a short distance from the Inner Harbor and US-1. It was built on the site of "Old Congress Hall", where the Continental Congress met in 1776. From 1962 through the 1976 season, the Baltimore Clippers of the American Hockey League played their home games here. It is said that when the National Hockey League decided to expand in the mid-1960s, they wanted to come to Baltimore rather than Philadelphia. But after inspecting the facilities, they decided that there was not enough seating. The arena also hosted a boxing match between Joey Giardello and Johnny Morris in 1962.
Some sports events do not require new arenas. For example, the New York Mets played their first season in New York City’s Polo Grounds in 1962. Their long-time home at Shea Stadium was not completed until 1964. Golf, of course, has no stadiums, so let’s look at the game itself. Arnold Palmer won the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, Georgia, another US-1 city, in 1962. And in the Doral Open, played in the Miami suburb of Doral, Florida, Billy Casper won. This was the inaugural event for the Doral Open, and it was played here annually for 45 seasons, from 1962 to 2006. The match had a dramatic ending, with Casper down by four shots with just eight holes to go. He bounced back to beat Pete Bondeson by one stroke. Casper also won it in 1964.
Some other new places to visit in 1962 are hard to categorize. For example, one of the world’s most famous clubs opened that year, the New York City Playboy Lounge and Supper Club. This original Playboy Club operated until 1986 and then closed, but a new version was opened in 2017. You can now have your drinks and dinner served by Bunnies again! It joins just a few remaining Playboy Clubs around the world, mostly in India.
Finally, if you want to stop for a real Philly cheesesteak sandwich in a place that opened in 1962, try Shank’s Original in South Philly, another US-1 city. Shank’s offers cheesesteaks, roast pork sandwiches , meatball sandwiches and more. Their cold sandwiches feature old-school Italian meats and prosciutto and provolone cheeses. Unfortunately for us, the original location closed in 2009 and they moved to Pier 40 on the Delaware River. But that site gives them outdoor picnic tables with a view of the Delaware River, so that compensates. I’m stopping for dinner now and then to the Sheraton for overnight; see you next time on Roadtrip-'62 ™, somewhere else in 1962!
All photos by the author and Copyright © 2017 - Milne Enterprises, Inc., except as noted.
All other content Copyright © 2017 - Milne Enterprises, Inc.