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The Rosa Parks Bus Shoot by Steve Marsel

Friday, February 4th, 2011

One aspect of this job of being a professional photographer that really challenges me is the ability to find props – quickly.  I was doing a shoot last month for our other blog – for Martin Luther King Day.  The topic of my blog posting for Martin Luther King day was how Dr. King had single handedly started the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  I had never seen an iconic shot of the back seats of a vintage bus.  I looked.  Google images had nothing.  A thorough search online of the major stock photography agencies turned up little or nothing. I knew that if I wanted to create an image that represented Dr. King, it would need to be straight forward and direct.  I want to shoot THE “back of the bus” image.  An Image that would be the visual manifestation of that concept for all time.  But…  I needed a bus!

"Back of the Bus" image © 2011 Steve Marsel  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

“Back of the Bus” image © 2011 Steve Marsel ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

About the Bus:

The MBTA’s (Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority) RetroBus #2600 was built in 1957 by General Motors at their truck and coach plant in Pontiac, Michigan.  It is 35 feet long and 96 inches wide and is model TDH-4512 (for “T”ransit [sigmifying two doors, one for each entrance and exit, as opposed to “S”uburban with only one door], “D”iesel engine; “H”ydraulic transmission(as opposed to a manuel stick shift), “45” seated passengers, “12” is the model number – the even number “2” signifying a 96″ wide bus.  All 102″ wide buses had odd model numbers).

Number 2600 was built for the City Bus Company of Oklahoma City, and assigned their number C605.  The Eastern Massachusetts Street Railway Company, one of the MBTA’s predecessors, purchased the bus secondhand in the early 1960’s. The eastern Mass was eager to retire the last gasoline buses in its fleet, and consequently acquired a large number of used diesel buses in this time period.  The bus was assigned the number 3183 by the Eastern Mass.  The MBTA acquired the Eastern Mass in 1968, and took possession of all of its property.0 including 3183.  In 1970, 3183 was part of a group of buses leased by the MBTA to Middlesex & Boston Street Railway Company (M&B), a private bus operator serving Newton, Waltham, Lexington, and other communities in the western suburbs of Boston.  In 1972, The M&B went out of business and the MBTA took over it’s routes, so 3183 returned to the MBTA. The bus was retired shortly thereafter by the MBTA, and sold to the Gateway Bus Lines of Wareham Mass.  The bus sat in storage at Gateway for many years.  In 1988, the bus was returned to the MBTA and completely rebuilt by volunteer labor by the men and women of Everett Shops.  The bus was assigned the number 2600, to represent all of the General Motors “old look” buses owned and operated by the MBTA and its predecessors in the period between 1940 and 1975. Number 2600 has been used for parades and other special occasions ever since.

Photography by Steve Marsel Retouching by James Eves Original copy written by Steve Marsel This image available for licensing at Steve Marsel Stock

Visit Steve Marsel’s other sites: Steve Marsel Studio, the assignment site and flagship site of the Steve Marsel brand, Steve Marsel Stock, the rights managed digital stock library of Steve Marsel Studio, Steve Marsel Galleries, the private gallery site of the Steve Marsel Studio. Visiot one of Boston Photographer Steve Marsel’s other blogs as well: Steve Marsel Studio Blog , the creative blog of the Steve Marsel Studio. Steve Marsel Galleries Blog, Steve Marsel’s blog that discusses the stories behind the photographs, and Steve Marsel Stock Blog, the blog of Steve Marsel’s rights managed digital stock photography library that discusses the stories behind the images on the stock site.


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