Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Q.: “Where are you going
to get a typewriter?”

“In front of the Olivetti place on Fifth Avenue. We passed it twice yesterday. Once when you made us walk from the laundromat. And again when we walked from library to library. It’s bolted to a stand outside the building for everyone to use. You know, sort of a sample of their product. It’s free.”

E.L. Konigsburg, From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (1967).
The Olivetti showroom stood at 584 Fifth Avenue, between Forty-seventh and Forty-eighth Streets, now the address of a chocolate shop. The outdoor Olivetti seems to have been a longstanding fixture: the New Yorker has brief references to it from 1954 and 1962. Note the modern graphic on the showroom window, lower right.

[Photograph by Michael Rougier, n.d., from Google’s Life Photo Archive. Here’s a photograph of Rougier at work in the showroom.]

Related browsing
A Sidewalk Candid Photos Show (Life, April 11, 1955)
Photographs of the Olivetti showroom
Another photograph of the New York showroom
And one more

Pretty clearly a major inspiration for Apple stores, no?

comments: 5

Anonymous said...

I can attest that the typewriter definitely was there in 1961. Walking from the Battery to mid-Central Park one Sunday morning, I passed by it. I had no paper with me, but did use the keys.

Michael Leddy said...

Thanks for sharing that memory, Anon.

Stephen said...

Thanks for sharing this.

The Canadian Pacific signage across the street is also interesting.

Elaine said...

Big City Surprises.
Great one!

Michael Leddy said...

Stephen, it’s all gone, as you probably suspect. 580 Fifth Avenue (Peck & Peck) now houses Phantom on 5th, a souvenir shop, with other businesses on the upper floors (thanks, Google Maps).

Elaine, thanks for letting me know you liked this post. The great big city really is a wondrous toy (thanks, Lorenz Hart).