Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Two Main Street '56 Views

Here are scans from two stereo slides, circa 1956.

Main Street looks freshly scrubbed (or steam cleaned) in this bright sunny picture. An industrious employee polishes the fender of the Carnation truck; he's wearing a spotless apron, does that mean that he would later be scooping ice cream for guests?

The Opera House is one of my favorite buildings on Main Street. There is not too much about it that is exceptional - until you get to that wonderfully ornate pediment! It looks like the top of a Chippendale desk. The masks representing comedy and tragedy are beautifully sculpted, and it all feels very authentic... a real tribute to the craftsmen who built Disneyland with such care and artistry.

EXTRA! EXTRA! Blog reader Connie was nice enough to send me a photo that she took of the Opera House from May of this year. I love comparing old photos to new, and there is certainly a lot to take in. I am ashamed to admit that I walked right past the House and didn't even notice the gilding. It sure is fancy - but maybe not very authentic? Please make a note of all the changes and write a 25 page essay. I want your margins to be neat and be sure to use footnotes.


Connie Moreno said...

Is it possible to get so excited about photos that it makes you drool? Apparently so judging by my keyboard.

I love these photos! The opera house had had some "plussing" over the years and it reminded me of a photo I took recently - I'll have to go find it so we can compare the two. I like this older version, though.

Major Pepperidge said...

I didn't know that the Opera House had undergone many changes; I think those window awnings are gone, and there is probably some signage for the Lincoln show. Let's see those photos!

JG said...

Major, you're right. Main Street is an architectural marvel. The attention to detail is extraordinary and the design quality is unsurpassed.

These buildings may have been the first of what is now a quite common type, a very large building whose exterior is broken up to resemble many smaller ones. Many "urban" malls and even residential developments owe much to this initial concept.

The big difference of Main Street is that the buildings actually resemble their old-time prototypes, not only in material and individual detail (which is fairly common now) but also in their scale and proportion (different things that sound alike) and their design effects.

The designers of Main Street were master architects in a way that few ever become, willing to submerge their idea of a perfect design into a spot-on replica of a past prototype.

People react instinctively to their surroundings, and I think this is why so many people react to Main Street, and all of Disneyland, because it just feels right.

As thanks for this virtuoso demonstration of skill, the architectural press uses "disneyland" as a pejorative to describe architecture that the elites believe to be insufficiently developed intellectually. Take a look at the new Denver Art Museum for an example of the approved model for urban architecture.

The fault of Disneyland is not the concept, or the execution, but in the fact that mall designers and casino developers copied the concept without the inspiration.

Thanks for these pictures, they are great.


Connie Moreno said...

Major, I have emailed my photo to you!

Major Pepperidge said...

JG, I agree that Disneyland's Main Street has not been surpassed in my opinion. Florida's version is spectacular and very pretty, but feels like a fantasy. Disneyland's designers - all movie people - were at the top of their game.

You can still drive through the midwest and find small towns with main streets that truly do remind me of DL's. Not as clean of course, or even as elaborate, but of course we are seeing them in their decline.

Connie Moreno said...

Holy smokes! I almost stood in the exact spot as the original photographer! Notice that you can barely see the tips of the tree branches in the first photo and then look at mine. Wow. The place sure has changed. I'm excused from witing the essay, right? Right?

Unknown said...

I miss the old window awnings. Wonder why they removed them?

Andy said...

I believe much of the gilding is a result of the 50th Anniversary. Is that correct?

Major Pepperidge said...

Andy, I'm sure you are right. I wouldn't mind it if it was removed, since it is so over the top, but it probably cost a lot to do, and so it's going to stay.

Anonymous said...

"There is not too much about it that is exceptional" except it looks great for a converted lumbermill!