Behind East 29 th Street in Paterson , between 17 th and 18 th avenues, was a double row of garages, put up early in the century to store the new automobiles that many of the silk mill workers were buying to replace their horses. Whether the Gasoline Alley comic strip took its name from the alley in Paterson , or vice-versa, the row of garages soon acquired that title. Racing people moved in, including West Coast star Ted Horn in 1930.
Willy Belmont opened the Gasoline Alley Tavern at 838 Market Street and soon it was a popular racers’ hangout. Visiting drivers from all over the U.S. would set up shop in rented quarters while they raced at Nutley , Woodbridge or HoHoKus. A young Chris Economaki became a go-fer for many of the visitors, eager to give directions to the track in exchange for a ride to the races.
Eventually, Fred Post had his race car upholstery shop there. Pappy Hough built his “Five Little Pigs” in the stalls, while Dick Simonek’s machine shop did much of the technical work. There was the crankshaft shop, J&J Electric, Dick O’Dea’s outboard shop, a cycle shop and garages for a local hot rod club. Ken-Mar Machine took over the space in the 1950′s and Frankie DelRoy’s Speed Shop was not far away on Route #46.
Gasoline Alley survived into the early 1990′s, but at the end of the century the area had been cleared for new light industrial construction, thus came the end of an era.