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April 1, 2024

Wonderful Color Photos Show How People Dressed For Easter Parade in New York City in the 1950s

In the 1950s, the phrase “Sunday’s best” meant something quite different than it does today. On Easter Sunday, families from all walks of life would dust off their best and most extravagant dresses, hats, and suits in celebration of the holiday — and in New York City, the Easter Day parade was a place for all of these bold and colorful fashions to hit the street for all to see.

Easter in New York has become synonymous with a pageant of people marching down Fifth Avenue, many wearing large over-the-top hats, reveling in the sunshine. The tradition of the Easter parade began after the Civil War as a “fashion promenade,” rooted in the custom of a Sunday walk following religious service. Wealthy New Yorkers would emerge from their respective houses of worship along Fifth Avenue to stroll down the street, dine at hotels nearby, or pay social calls. Some members of the congregation at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, located at 5th Avenue and 53rd Street, carried flowers used in the Easter service to St. Luke’s Hospital located at 54th Street.

The Sunday stroll was particularly popular on Easter Sunday as it marked a time to show off the latest trends in fashion. Dressmakers and milliners would line the streets producing sketches of the ensembles later copied by department stores within weeks of the holiday. Hats decorated with faux flowers, tall ostrich feathers, and taxidermy birds were at the height of fashion.

Michael W. Gorth, an amateur archivist from San Diego, California has been collecting vintage Kodachrome slides from flea markets, estate sales and antique stores since 1996. Often times he’ll comb through hundreds of images to find the perfect shot that will transport viewers to another era. Gorth estimates that he’s looked through over 200,000 images since he started this hobby. He got lucky uncovering this treasure trove of photos that he purchased from Ebay, sight unseen. They arrived in a yellow box labelled Easter Parade 1953 and was instantly taken by the show stopping fashions of the time.

“What I like about the photos is that there is so much diversity walking around, black, white, Asian, Spanish... and everyone looks so happy and proud enjoying themselves and everyone else. It’s just hard to believe at that time there was so much racism and it doesn’t show at all in these photos,” said Gorth to Daily Mail.

Now represented by Lost Color Library, below are a selection of photos from Gorth’s Easter Parade series that offer a stunning flashback to New York in 1953.

(Photos © Michael W. Gorth / Lost Colour Library)


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