Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Two From Fifty Six!

Photos from Disneyland's first year or two just feel different from later years. Maybe it's the clothes. Maybe it's the unfinished, slightly rough-around-the-edges quality that is evident in many places. Whatever that elusive quality is, it tends to give even ordinary scenes a certain vintage charm.

Like this one! We've certainly looked at plenty of photos of Main Street over the years, and this example is nice enough. But I love the bustle of activity, the crowds heading toward the castle; the people waiting in line for that weirdly-placed little drinking fountain (to our left), or the men wearing their hats (fedoras are awesome). In spite of its appearance, that line strung across Main Street was not used to hang out Walt's laundry to dry; it would occasionally be used to display banners welcoming Boy Scouts, or the Kiwanis Club, or Benny Goodman and his band.

It's a shame that this one isn't clearer, I never tire of photos of the Autopia (Ha ha! "never tire"! Oh man!). I love those old-style Autopia vehicles - and for some reason I never noticed the little red tail lights before (assuming they actually lit up and weren't just for show). I also like the presence of those two trucks in the distance… you could argue that they are "bad show", but they feel perfectly OK to me, parked along the freeway of the future.


Nanook said...


If you extracted the castle and the plethora of trash cans from the first image, it could easily pass for the time period it was design to depict.

And as for those taillights, I have to assume they are merely decorative. There is plenty of documentation referring to the headlights - and how originally they were operating sealed beam headlights powered by little six-volt friction-drive generators. However, according to Bob Gurr: "They were so much trouble they were the first things we took off the cars... The Mark I, II, III & IV cars all had the headlights, but they were just decoration."

Thanks, Major.

Nancy said...

Love Main Street USA. Maybe its the shopping lol!! I never noticed the little wrought iron roof decor on the left-side building before. I like how it looks like the brim of a bonnet, standing up that way across the front.

You crack yourself up, dont you? The Autopia in the early days is so barren here, i admit that I prefer things a little busier. Cool contrast with the super modern lights and highway divider and the toy-looking car design.

Two nice ones from Fifty-Six (which btw was a very good year, especially on Dec 12! :-)

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking the original faded blue and pink of the castle was part of the forced perspective concept so prevalent at the park. Apparently that got lost over the years, which might explain the bold colors that the castle is today.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, it's true, those Imagineers did an amazing job when they built Main Street. Thank you for the info about the tail lights… Bob Gurr would be the one to know for sure!

Nancy, I can only assume that turn of the century buildings might have sported such filagree. Or it just looked cute! I've never seen the Autopia when it wasn't busy, so I might actually enjoy a wide open miniature freeway.

Anonymous, I think you are totally correct; John Hench knew a lot about color, and I'm sure the theory is that faded colors would make it look far away (and therefore, larger).

Nancy said...

I meant busy with decor, etc. but that's okay.

Unknown said...

Actually the current colors brilliance loses what is called aerial perspective. Another cheat from movies along with forced perspective (that is, by size) the air itself fades and gives a bluish cast to colors in the distance. This is noticeable in a number of landscapes where distant mountains or terrain are of a pale blue color. In real life it doesn't take that much distance to cast the distant objects paler and bluer. But with the short distance over Main Street the intent to increase the perceived distance was intentional.

At any rate, I want a pale pink and blue castle, and want some ivy, darnit!

Major Pepperidge said...

Patrick, as a painter I am familiar with aerial perspective; but I think "forced perspective" still works in this case, since the castle was painted to force the illusion of distance. Semantics, I guess!