Thursday, May 21, 2015

GDB "Greatest Hits" - Main Street

Hooray for more "Greatest Hits"! This time we're visiting Main Street - although one image might be considered an exception.

Night shots are all-too-rare; film stocks were generally just not fast enough 50 years ago. That's why  this lovely photo (originally posted in 2007) of West Center Street and the Flower Mart is so special. And the warm glow from the bulbs along the buildings adds a soft, nostalgic ambiance. Beautiful!

OK, I know this isn't "Main Street", but my archives folder for Main Street includes the "Entrance"  and parking lot. Now the whole world knows my shame. Still, I don't think most people will complain about this adorable picture of the little tram as it drops off a fresh load of guests at the front gate. It was first posted back in 2008. Are those tract homes in the distance? I don't ever recall noticing houses in the background before.

This neat picture (circa 1957) looks north on Main Street, later in the afternoon. The park was bustling, though it's hard to tell because most people didn't walk in the street.  I love the patriotic bunting, and the bright red Chemical Wagon, and pretty much everything else, too! Notice that the gas lamp is already lit, in spite of the fact that there will still be many hours of daylight left.


Nanook said...


Love the Flower Mart at night. And do the colored lights glowing from the rear window possibly be attached to a Christmas tree-?

The "tract homes" in the distance are all those fabulous motels located along W. Katella Av.

Thanks, Major.

Nanook said...

Fer instance... The Motel Musketeer, the Waikiki Motel, and perhaps the Peter Pan Motor Lodge, farther down on Harbor Boulevard.

Alonzo P Hawk said...

Great photo's today. The park looks poised to face the wrath of the Babushka twins. Both are hopping off the tram ready to sprint for the entry plaza. Good times.

Monkey Cage Kurt said...

It does look to me like a Christmas tree. If so then it’s December, and I assume this night shot could almost be as early in the evening as 5-6PM. I love the two elegantly dressed women in the center of the shot there.

The element in the tram shot that jumped out at me the most was the old high tension power lines. Would never have suspected that power lines could hold such a degree of nostalgia.

Anonymous said...

And all the Eucalyptus trees that the orange growers used for wind breaks.

Chuck said...

The nearer buildings look a bit small to be motels, and the rooflines don't look right to me to be the Musketeer (783 W. Katella), the Alpine Inn (715 W. Katella, still in business today), or the Waikiki (631 W. Katella). Perhaps they're maintenance buildings of some sort for the parking lot? Or the motels?

I'll see if I can't dig up some aerial photos from '57 or so and see just how off-base I really am... :-)

K. Martinez said...

At first I thought it was a Christmas tree, but I didn't see any garland hung from the building facades. Then I was thinking maybe they didn't extend the holiday decorations to the Center streets yet. Back then, Christmas didn't vomit all over Disneyland like it does today.

Love the third image with the gas lit lamp and turned on lights on the west side of Main Street. Thanks, Major.

Monkey Cage Kurt, Yes, those high tension power lines were definitely a part of the childhood memories of a day at Disneyland.

Chuck said...

Okay, so I consulted a photo book sitting on my shelf, "Disneyland...the Beginning" by Carlene Thie, which includes a 1958 aerial that shows the eastern and southern portion of the old parking lot. That was critical to orienting myself to the parking lot photo in today's post.

The power line towers you see in today's photo were located at the eastern edge of the property, maybe 100-150 meters south and a bit east of the parking lot entrance structure, which you can get a glimpse of just below the roof of the tram car at the extreme left of the photo. That means that the camera is pointed too far north to include any of the Katella motels we were theorizing about above, although the low roofline in the distance to the extreme right of the photo may be the Candy Cane Motel at 1747 Harbor.

The dark building with the white garage-type door directly above the tractor in today's photo is visible in the book's 1958 photo, although it's hard to tell if the white-roofed structure to the left of it is still there (it's in the distance, and when I looked at it with an 8x lupe, the area sort of dissolved into a bunch of dots).

Then I found this 1955 aerial at Yesterland (, which shows multiple structures in that general area that correspond to what we see in today's 1957 photo. A companion photo from 1960 ( shows those structures have been demolished but many of the motels we remember along the north side of W. Katella open for business. From west to east (left to right), we have the Heidi Motel (west of the Katella entrance plaza, 815 W. Katella), the Musketeer (white roof, 733 W. Katella), the Alpine Motel (as it was known then, and still sporting it's restaurant building on the west side of the property, since demolished, 715 W. Katella), the Waikiki (which looks like two motels from the air, 631 W. Katella), and the Sir RuDimar (last white roof before Harbor, 615 W. Katella)

Based on the evidence available, I'm going to theorize that those structures in the background were built to support the pre-Park orange groves.

Chuck said...

Additional research indicates that the restaurant between the Musketeer and the Alpine, the Chalet at 721 W. Katella, may have been a separate business entity from the similarly-themed Alpine Motel/Inn next door. Their specialties were pancakes and steaks, which sounds like a wonderful combination to me (and not just because I skipped breakfast today). I wonder where I can get that for lunch...

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, it does look like a Christmas tree… and yet, there’s a guy in short sleeves to our left. It must have been a balmy holiday evening! As for the motels, I considered those, but they look very “housey”, if you know what I mean.

Alonzo, the Babushka Twins are two of my favorite Kaiju!

Monkey Cage Kurt, yes, it gets dark so early in the winter. I honestly don’t think the power lines ever registered in my kid brain, I was too focused on the park!

Anonymous, I wonder if all of those eucalyptus are gone now; I also love seeing them in old Knott’s photos.

Chuck, I was thinking the same thing, but you know how it goes… I’m trying to write 3 or 4 blog posts in one night, and I *could* do the research, but… it never happens.

K. Martinez, I never added a date to the original scan for that Flower Mart photo, so I don’t know the date; I’m sure it is from the mid-60’s. While I am OK with the old, more subdued Christmas decor, I have the feeling that a lot of guests like walking on to Main Street and being blown away. Which is fine, I am glad they like it.

Chuck, well, I just sold my copies of the Carlene Thie books (I never looked at them, and I have too many darn books!), so I couldn’t check that resource. Thanks for doing all of that research, I’m not sure I would have bothered. “Some things are just meant to remain a mystery!” I would tell myself. Considering how many pre-Disneyland structures seemed to linger for so long after 1955, it would not surprise me if some of the structures in my photo are not from motels. And they very well could have had something to do with the fruit orchards nearby. Again, thank you for doing all the work! Pancakes and steaks? I know some people like the idea of a steak for breakfast, but I am more of a French toast and sausage guy! Or pancakes and bacon. Or a nice omelette. NOW I’m hungry.

Nanook said...

@ OH Ken-

You made me laugh-out-loud-! A rarity, to be sure. It's very hard for a corporation whose mantra - which should be both etched in stone and cast in bronze - "More is never enough", to apply any sort of 'finesse' to anything they touch. It's clearly no longer a part of their lexicon and philosophy. (Such is the pity). I guess time will tell whether this sort of direction will keep them 'ahead of the curve', or if it comes back to bite them in the ass. You never know.

@ OH Chuck-

Thanks for the research. I figured I had a good chance of being off-base. Looking back at images of that area from back in the day, it always seemed to be populated with an odd assortment of out buildings, and the like - perhaps one of them manufactured Pixie Dust....

Anonymous said...

I remember the Chalet. Mom, Dad and I would get our hands stamped for re-entry and enjoy an early dinner there before returning for the fireworks. We'd take the Parking Lot tram as far south as it would go for transportation, then walk the remainder each way.


Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, as I said to K. Martinez, I really believe that the general public likes the excess in almost all things, whether it is saturated colors applied to the outside of attractions (pink castle) or over-the-top decorations for holidays. In fact, I've heard complaints that they don't do MORE for Halloween (though in that case, I assume they want the park to be scarier).

KS, those were the days! You are lucky to have those memories.

Nanook said...

@ Major-

I know you're correct; but the public is fickle and hardly known as "taste-makers". Most of us - like it or not - haven't the faintest idea how to be an 'individual'; and as a result - most are 'followers', in spite of that fact, few would admit to it.

And weather or not the public is right or wrong, when they decide "enough is enough", they can be pretty particular. And if Disney is so full of themselves to see the change, they could be caught with their proverbial pants down.

Anonymous said...

@KS We had breakfast at the Chalet several times on the morning after our visit, before the long ride home. I have fond memories of the fake plaster icicles.

I heard rumors that the Alpine Lodge and the Chalet were owned by Disney and that this somehow accounted for their quality themed appearances. But I can't remember where I read it, I know it was recently (i.e not 50 years ago) and I have no idea if it's true.

@Chuck. You. Are. Awesome.


Dean Finder said...

Real gas street lamps are run 24 hours a day. It's too much work to extinguish and light them every day.
The town of West Orange, NJ still uses them

Debbie V. said...

I can see why these are winners - it's hard to say which one I like best. I guess if I had to choose it would be the one at the bottom of Main Street. Those late afternoons where you can feel the crispness of the air and see the angle of the sun were rare. I seem to remember most evening had a touch of moisture in the air. This might have been a Santa Ana conditions day. Anyway it's beautiful. Thank you.

Sunday Night said...

That night picture of the Flower Mart and the little Christmas tree in the shop window...just so beautiful and dreamy. This is the Disneyland of my earliest childhood memories. One of the best photos I've seen on GDB.

Chuck said...

@JG - You are too kind. [Blushing]

Earlier today, I ran into info that said that, while these motels were all built by outside investors, many were purchased by Disney over the years but operated by other companies under contract until Disney finally was ready to move forward with the 1990's resort expansion. The Heidi Motel appears to have entered Disney hands as far back as the late '60's, while the Musketeer wasn't acquired until 1990.

Here are a couple of articles that touch on this issue:

Nancy said...

love the dreamy quality of the first view....dusk pics are my favorite but this one is especially nice without the harshness you sometimes get with night views.

still cant get past that most who visit Disneyland dont walk in the street. at WDW we only walk on the sidewalk if we went to go into a shop!! funny how things are sometimes.... :-)