Downtown Hammond in the 1950s....

  Hammond, Indiana reached its peak of economic development and activity during the 1950s and as the decade of the sixties followed, businesses began to close and fewer people were shopping downtown Hammond.

"Downtown Hammond was a vibrant, happy place with a wide variety of stores. Customers and store clerks engaged in friendly conversations as items were purchased. People were not in a hurry, because they were enjoying the shopping experience. There was a spirit of optimism among the people who worked and shopped downtown. Going downtown was an uplifting experience.

Downtown was big enough, and downtown was small enough. It was big enough to have a fine array of stores and many things to do, but it was small enough that one could feel comfortable there. Downtown was clean, and downtown was safe. It was a place that all were proud of....







Read more about Tom Johnson's memories of
downtown Hammond during the 50s and 60s..
Click here to read the entire story....



This was a familiar sight: gridlock caused by trains moving through the heart of the city. The angle of the tracks
(running southeast to northeast) cut off both north-south and east-west streets at the same time.
We are looking south on Hohman Avenue. The tower of the Supreme Court is seen on the horizon
at the top left along with the water tower on the roof of Goldblatts.

Another view of Hohman Avenue & State Street, looking South from the tracks. Much of the infrastructure
is still in place but getting ready to close. The Goldblatts watertower, the Parthenon Theater,
and the Indiana Hotel are open for business
(Photo compliments of: Kovachich)

"A familiar site on the main street of the business dist. showing people waiting for the bus to the surrounding cities. Looking north on Hohman from Rimbach Ave."
Notes of Photographer Hart, Chicago Sun-Times



Shoppers in Downtown Hammond during the 50s, wait patiently for their bus in front of Spiegel's on Hohman Avenue.
Hammond's public transit system covered the city and enabled thousands of people to easily access the commercial and
business district.  Bus rides were still ten cents. (Photo courtesy of the Chicago Sun-Times) Looking North on Hohman Ave.

Signs of the times... Hammond buses show up on their appointed rounds.
Coming toward the camera is a 1950 Ford and the last car (middle right)
 near the Parthenon Theatre is a fastback 1951 Chevrolet.
Looking South on Hohman from State Street.


On Fayette Street looking west toward Hohman Avenue. The Hammond Times, a weekly stop for paperboys who paid their weekly bill.
Thanks to Bill Kaminski for sharing this image.

Now famous photograph of Goldblatts Department Store, looking south on Hohman at Sibley.
Early 1950s when women wore skirts and life was simple. This corner window at Goldblatts
always presented the newest toys for the Holiday Season as featured in Jean Shepherd's Christmas Story.
It is where Ralphie first saw the Red Ryder BB Gun. They always had electric trains on display.


Traffic slows in downtown Hammond but the buses continue to run.

The photographer took his life in his hands when he set up this shot in the middle of Hohman Avenue.
The 1950 Chevrolet is bearing down on him as the late model Hudson (right center) prepares to make a left turn on Sibley.
Watch for the mailbox! The post office would place them where there was active pedestrian traffic.
When the post office mailbox is removed it is a sign that foot traffic has declined.

Cars heading northbound on Hohman and State pause for the traffic light.
You can compare this photo with the one below to see how the storefronts have changed.

Penny's has moved to the east side of Hohman at Sibley. "Cast a Giant Shadow" is playing at the Parthenon. It is 1966.

Typical wintry day in downtown Hammond. Businesses confront the snow and ice to maintain business activity as usual.
(Times Photo)

Moving into the 1960's, stores began to jockey for better locations. JC Penney moved across the street. York and Rothschild's
replaced  Spiegel's and Grants... , respectively, signs that retail companies were beginning to struggle with success. Buses in the
60s were newer (compare the photos above) and another vanishing sign of the times, the Dixie milk truck, is seen heading
north of Hohman Avenue, a sight you will not see again in downtown Hammond, Indiana.

Hohman Avenue begins its demise. The Parthenon is closed but people are encouraged now on the marquee to "Shop Downtown."
Another vanishing site of the 50's and 60's is the ice cream vendor
peddling his bicycle ice box filled with ice cream bars kept frozen with dry ice

Below, looking north on Hohman Avenue from Broken Corner, city streets fall silent as traffic ebbs.


Visit Hohman Avenue - Hammond, Indiana

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These images and the web pages are maintained by Richard Barnes, HHS'59.

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