Dec 05 2016

Mystery Foto #49 Solved:A 1957 Aerial of a “Spirit of St. Louis” Press Conference at Roosevelt Field


The Cradle of Aviation provided this weekend's Mystery Foto of an amazing aerial.

Mystery Foto questions:

  • Identify the location and orientation of the aerial

Roosevelt Field Shopping Center in East Garden City looking south/west. The shopping center was  built on the south west section of the Roosevelt Field Airport and opened on August 22, 1956.

  • On what date was the aerial taken?

February 26, 1957.

  • Identify the major buildings in the aerial

The Roosevelt Field Shopping Center before it was enclosed. The large white building is Macy's Department Store.

  • Why was there a press conference at this location?

A Warner Brothers' press conference promoting the film Spirit of St. Louis featuring one of the replicas used in the movie. The Spirit of St. Louis replica was located in the future location of Gimbel's, now Dicks' Sporting Goods. The actual take-off of the Spirit of St. Louis occurred approximately one mile east of this spot.

  • Name one famous person who participated in the press conference

Actor James Stewart who played Charles Lindbergh.

  • What Long Island Motor Parkway structures are seen in the aerial?

The Garden City Lodge and the embankment for the Clinton Road Motor Parkway Bridge in the right corner.

Congrats to Joe Oesterle, Lee, Fran Femenias, Tim Ivers, Dick Gorman, Michael Appice, Sam Berliner III, Mel Weed, Ace, Greg O., Steve Lucas, and Art Kleiner (see Kleiner's Korner) for correctly identifying Roosevelt Field.

Kudos to Dick Gorman, Michael Appice, Sam Berliner III,  Greg O.,  and Art Kleiner for linking the Mystery Foto to the film Spirit of St. Louis and/or Jimmy Stewart.

Funny story: When I was eight-years old, my father took my sister and me to see the film The Spirit of St. Louis at Westbury Drive-In. With 15 minutes left in the movie and Lindbergh still somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, a torrential rainstorm resulted in my father leaving the drive-in before the dramatic conclusion. When I strongly protested, my father tried to calm me down and simply said: "Don't worry, Lindbergh made it."

Enjoy,

Howard Kroplick



Close-Ups

The Garden City Lodge (circled) and the embankment to the Clinton Road Motor Parkway Bridge (arrow). Several bunkers of the Old Westbury Golf Club were still visible.

Macy's Department Store and the LILCO Gas Tank, south of Stewart Avenue.

The Spirit of St. Louis replica and Food Fair grocery store.


Opening of the Film "Spirit of St. Louis" Press Conference-February 26, 1957

Actor James Stewart shaking hands with Major General Roger J. Browne, commander of the First Air Force based in Mitchel Field.

Newsday, February 27, 1927

Fun Fact: James Stewart's next film was an Alfred Hitchcock film called "From Amongst the Dead". James Stewart said " I'm hoping that by the time I get there they's have changed the title." They did: It was renamed "Vertigo".

The Spirit of St. Louis replica taking off from a grass field in the shopping mall. Note: The Meadowbrook Parkway and Roosevelt Raceway in the background.


Then & Now

Then: 1957

Now: 2016

The green line is the route of the Long Island Motor Parkway.


A Variation on the Mystery Foto

Another aerial taken on the same day as the Mystery Foto. Mitchel Field can be seen in the background. Aerial courtesy of the Cradle of Aviation.

Aerial courtesy of the Cradle of Aviation.

The same view as above as seen around 1950. Note: The LILCO Gas Tank in the background. Aerial courtesy of the Cradle of Aviation.


The Three Spirit of St. Louis replicas used in the film.

According to Simon Beck's book The Aircraft-Spotter's Film and Television Companion, The Spirit of St. Louis was filmed from August 1955 to May 1956 in California. Additional shots were filmed in Paris, Ireland and Newfoundland. A total of three replicas were used in the film.

Two of the replicas (N7206 and N7212) were acquired and modified by Paul Mantz Air Services of Santa Ana, California. The 1928 Ryan B-1 Broughams were rebuilt in the Spirit of St. Louis NYP (New York to Paris) fashion and shipped to Europe for the French countryside scenes.

N7212 is now in the Cradle of Aviation.

N7206 is located  at the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis.


A third replica (N7209) was purchased from a private owner by pilot W.H. "Hank" Coffin and James Stewart. It was restored to flying condition and used for the US coastal scenes in California and the takeoff scene shot at Santa Maria Airport in California. James Stewart flew N7209 to help get himself into the role of Lindbergh.

In 1959, Stewart donated this replica to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. It is likely N7209 was seen in the replica in the Mystery Foto.


Kleiner's Korner (Submitted by Art Kleiner)

The Long Islander, March 7, 1956

The Long Islander, March 7, 1956

Newsday, February 19, 1957

Newsday, February 19, 1957

Newsday, February 19, 1957

Newsday, February 19, 1957

Andrew Surini, a Roosevelt Field mechanic in 1927, checking out the Spirit of St. Louis replica thirty years later. Photo courtesy of Cradle of Aviation.



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