Posts Tagged ‘Miss Subways’

Beauty queens of the New York City subway

March 3, 2010

Today’s subway ads are a depressing lot: medical malpractice law firms, Dr. Zizmor, MTA warnings about the dangers of traveling between cars. 

Not so from 1941 to 1976. Back then, one young New York woman per month was crowned “Miss Subways,” her name and face plastered above the seats on thousands of subway cars for millions of commuters to see.

An ad agency, not the MTA, nominated the winners; residents then voted for a top candidate over the phone. The winners came from all backgrounds and boroughs and comprised a surprisingly diverse group over the years.

All had a few things in common: they were wholesome, had aspirations . . . and rode the subway, of course. Some information on what became of some winners can be found here.

Perhaps a revival of Miss Subways should duke it out with a new version of Miss Rheingold, the beauty pageant that gripped New Yorkers in the 1940s and 1950s.

When Miss Rheingold ruled New York City

October 17, 2009

Miss Harlem. Miss subways. Miss Brooklyn. The list of long-gone local beauty contests is filled with small-time titles and pageants. 

But one mattered so much to residents, it reportedly attracted almost as many city voters as a presidential election at the time did: Miss Rheingold.

Missrheingold1953

A promotional jackpot for Brooklyn’s Rheingold Brewing Company, the Miss Rheingold pageant ran from 1941 to 1964. 

Every summer, grocery stores would be stocked with ballots featuring six finalists. The winner spent the following year on Rheingold billboards and in magazine ads. (Tippi Hendren, a 1953 finalist, above, didn’t snag the title.)

Miss Rheingold helped make the beer New York’s most popular in the 1950s and 1960s. Rheingold goes way back in the city; it opened in 1883 in Bushwick on the nabe’s famed “Brewers Row,” which earned its moniker because so many German-American beer companies began there.

Alas, they shut down in 1976, but the brand was revived in the 1990s. A new Miss Rheingold contest was also reinstated recently, but the contestants are all female bartenders.