Friday, December 11, 2020

Beautiful Skyway View & House of the Future, 1956

I love this first photo, taken from the Skyway as our gondola glides away from 1956-era Tomorrowland. It still astonishes me to see open farmland right next to the park. No HoJos, Wilbur Clark's Crest Hotel, or Melodyland. The little house to the left of the blue Skyway gondola can be seen in THIS PHOTO, it must have been torn down not long after this picture was taken.

Check out the line for the Space Bar! Ay-yi-yi. Somehow waiting in line for a ride is not fun, but comes with the territory. Waiting in a long line for food is a bummer. "Go find a seat, I'll see you in 45 minutes!". In the lower left is the line for the Skyway, including a sign that says something about the Junior Autopia... maybe it is telling parents that kids who are too small to ride the Tomorrowland Autopia can head over to Fantasyland and ride the Junior version (the story goes that the pedals had wood blocks on them so that kid's stumpy legs could reach them).

Another closeup, because why the heck not?

I believe that this next photo is from 1959(ish). Ma and Pa have just witnessed the future inside the Monsanto House ("Home" is more accurate I suppose) - they look like they've been struck speechless. I've always liked the fact that people in a futuristic house would want a fireplace (as evidenced by the chimney, visible here), even if all of their food is cooked by microwaves. I thought we'd only need to eat meals in the form of pills, but you can win them all. 

Love the straw boater on Pa! 1920 meets 1980.


Nanook said...

It does seem strange to see just how close Harbor Blvd. sits to Disneyland, but that berm does hide a 'multitude of sins'. And what crowds there were on that day-!

Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

There appears to be some sort of electronic device, underneath the landing of the HOTF's exit stairs.

As for the first pic, I don't know if I've ever noticed that wonky wall to the right of the Space Bar. Was it always there? Like, even before the park was built?

And is there an employee keeping guests from ascending the stairs to the Skyway station? There is a big gap in the line. Perhaps someone wasn't paying attention, because they were busy looking at their cell phone? Or maybe they were just practicing social distancing?

K. Martinez said...

The original Skyway support towers were the coolest. Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic!, There was a big gap in the line for the Skyway because Walt Disney was testing a new concept that would later become FASTPASS. When FASTPASS finally came to Disneyland in 1999, it was hailed as Walt's greatest final dream come true.

TokyoMagic! said...

Ken, ha, ha! I can totally hear the "company" saying that! And also adding that Walt had wanted to implement the program decades earlier, but it wasn't "in the budget."

Andrew said...

Check out that Omnimover line of Autopia cars. Maybe it was so busy, all the cars were running for once and it was bumper-to-bumper, 3 mph traffic around the whole track.

Chuck said...

Major, your comment about the fireplace drove me down an interesting rabbit hole that I haven't been able to fully drag myself out of. Until this morning, I didn't think the HoF actually had a fireplace, but now I'm not so sure. There seems to be one in this design drawing and in this drawing from a 1957 Monsanto Magazine, but I haven't found any photos of or other references to one today. Kevin Kidney (in a post I found an hour ago on a different machine but now can't find on this one talking about the Disney Collections model he made in 2006) says the chimney was for the "utility core," which contained the central furnace and (presumably, although I haven't found a reference) the hot water heater.

Looking at photos, it also doesn't appear that the range top had an exterior vent.

Not sure that those are particularly odd design "features" for the era; the house my dad mostly grew up in (built 1949) didn't have a fireplace or kitchen vent, either. It did have a steel chimney from the "utility core" in the basement that my grandfather later dressed up by enclosing in a brick sheath that he laid himself.

I'm out of time to do more research - maybe somebody remembers or can find a photo of the fireplace. Daveland has a pretty good collection of interior photos of the HoF. Maybe I missed the fireplace in plain sight.

Stu29573 said...

I really like the picture of the farm house. It really shows how nice the area was before the "Greed Crush" came in. I can see why Walt would have been upset when it all turned into concrete, plastic, and cash registers. It's sad to think that little house was torn down. I hope the family got a lot of dough for it...

DrGoat said...

Great photos and great comments. So much info, thanks everyone.
Chuck, Daveland does have some great construction photos. Really like the ones showing the grading, foundation and assembly. The Monsanto house was a must walk-thru back in those days. We didn't visit the park until July, 1957. I was too young to remember much, but my uncle was designing a few houses here in Tucson and he was enamored of the design. He did love fireplaces and every house he did here had one. Can't shed any light on your question but I'm guessing it did not have a fireplace. Maybe considered too old-timey for a modern miracle?
Stu, If the owner of that house was savvy, I'm sure he made out pretty well. I certainly would have tacked on a lifetime pass to the park in that contract.
Thank you Major. Very cool Friday pics.

JC Shannon said...

It was a crowded day at the park, it looks like to me. Maybe it's free fry day at the Space Bar. It doesn't look like Silent Cal and his lovely bride are too impressed with the HoTF. "Monsanto, Shmonsanto, I prefer Dutch Colonial." Thanks Major.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, it’s too bad that there wasn’t more room for Tomorrowland to expand east, at least a little, but Harbor Boulevard is a border that can’t move!

TokyoMagic!, I noticed that, and wondered if it was just a light? It’s impossible to tell, to me anyway. That angled wall almost looks like a mistake, although it must have been built that way on purpose! Why? No idea. It doesn’t look like there’s a CM to keep people going up the stairs, unless I am missing something (I fixed the jpeg, which previously would not enlarge when clicked on).

K. Martinez, I can’t help wondering how different the park would be if FASTPASS had never been implemented. Sure, we all love having our pass, and getting to jump on Space Mountain without waiting in line, but it might have caused more problems than it solved, ultimately. OR, maybe they worked as intended and people spent money on food and merchandise instead of waiting in line like a bunch of cattle.

TokyoMagic!, Walt Disney once said, “Someday I hope that all the benches and planters full of flowers will be removed for a Star Wars Land”. It brings a tear to my eye.

Andrew, I have been stuck in Autopia traffic jams like that. It sort of takes the fun out of it when you literally can’t move an inch until the cars in front of you move. It’s just like the real SoCal freeways!

Chuck, thanks for doing so much research! The fireplace (or chimney, rather) in the design drawing looks different from the one actually built. It does make sense that some sort of venting for waste gases might be needed for the utility core. It’s amazing to see how different the Monsanto House’s interior looked in later years compared to the opening day look, which was so clean and almost anitseptic (which probably read as “futuristic”)… they must have decided that it needed to feel more “homey” at some point. I’ve been unable to find a photo of a room with a fireplace, but… there might be one out there. If I had to guess, I’d say that there wasn’t a fireplace in the finished house. Everyone was warmed by microwaves, after all!

Stu29573, I can’t blame people for wanting to make money by being near one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, but it is a shame that much of the construction looked pretty ugly. I appreciate that some of the motels had fun mid-century themes, but overall it was haphazard and cluttered, each business trying to attract your eye more than the next one.

DrGoat, I would imagine that even the most interested guest probably spent no more than five minutes inside the House of the Future, so time expended couldn’t have been a deterrent. I wish I’d seen it with my own eyes. My older brother claims that we did see some of those old attractions (such as the “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” walk-thru), but I was so young that I have no memory of them at all. I’m sure the owner of that house got a good price, but the value of that property would have only continued to go up as the years went by.

Jonathan, that was definitely a VERY busy day - different from so many early photos where the attendance looked so miniscule. It’s hard to tell if Ma and Pa were impressed by the plastic house - it might have been just a little TOO futuristic for their tastes.

Omnispace said...

There's so much going on in the first photo it's difficult to take it all in. After looking around I almost thought I should be looking for Waldo. And that view outside the park with the idyllic groves of trees and eucalyptus wind breaks is fantastic.

Those lines are so long, I wonder if guests knew if they were actually in the right one? I'm guessing the lower left is the Autopia line. The one crossing the center of the photo has a break at an interesting "corridor of attraction posers" leading to the Skyway stairs.

In the back wall of the Space Bar the service windows almost look like big orange faces, or reel-to-reel computer tapes above a food dispensing slot. Any idea what that was about?

An exhaust vent, or gas flu sounds like a logical guess for the House of the Future roof feature. Besides, everyone knows that people in the future were going to relax by the glow from a microwave-induced plasma "fireplace".

Anonymous said...

Wow a busy day in Tomorrowland!

I can't add much to the fireplace debate, other than to confirm that a furnace and a water heater need to have flues, and a range should have a vent, but in older homes, they don't always do. Even today, it is legal to use a "recirculating hood" over a range top, which just pulls cooking vapors through a filter and ejects them back out into your face. So, the HOF undoubtedly had some kind of a vent if these appliances were not all-electric.

Fireplaces are popular amenities in homes, and I can't imagine that something meant to be as mainstream as HOF wouldn't have had one, unless they intended the omission to be a "feature", not a "bug".

Even today, when traditional fireplaces are being outlawed for air pollution and energy conservation, "decorative gas appliances"

take their place and offer the primal joys of gathering around the campfire to modern families.

This is fairly new technology, and might not have been part of the HOF.

I was partial to the old, gaudy "Harbor Strip", but I can see how it became unpopular, especially as styles changed and old places became run-down. The current gentrification of the area means that visitors who can't afford $300/night will have to stay further away and drive in.

Thanks for today's post, Major.


Melissa said...

I love the architecture of Old Tomorrowland (Day Before Yesterdayland?). So light and airy, and such a good use of negative space. And so many pretty summer dresses and hats in the crowd.

“Dad, stop doing your Maurice Chevalier imitation! In the future, every house will have its own holographic Maurice Chevalier!”

One house I lived in as a kid had this super ultra modern fireplace. When you closed these heavy glass glass doors in front of it, there was some kind of superflue that sucked up the heat and shoved it down ducts where it came out of registers all around the room. On really cold nights we’d drag our sleeping bags into the living room and sleep in front of the fire.

Major Pepperidge said...

Omnispace, luckily you can take all the time you want to look at the photo. It really does look like a “Where’s Waldo”! I always like the early views when you can see a whole lotta nothing outside the park. But once the motels and hotels started going in, that farmland went away in a hurry. You make a good point, are some of those people in line for the Space Bar expecting to board the Skyway? Seeing all of those attraction posters gets my heart beating. Give them to me! I see the orange “face”, I wonder if the “eyes” are push buttons with pictures of different food or drink options, while the “mouth” is where the food would drop into? Not really sure, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a good closeup view of those machines. A plasma fireplace sounds kind of cool!

JG, the only thing about fireplaces is that they can be messy, and you need a pile of logs, which doesn’t feel very futuristic. Not that I would care if I lived in the place, but if we’re being particular, a fireplace might not fit. Mid-century fireplaces are often those steel things with the metal flues, I always thought they were kind of neat, though maybe you could burn yourself if you touched one (even if it happens to be double-walled). I know what you mean about the Harbor Boulevard charm (in spite of the crowding and occasional tackiness), especially now that it is so boring looking, even though it is neater and cleaner.

Melissa, you know me, I love the vintage Tomorrowland, and would say it’s my favorite of the old “lands”. Being 1956, ladies were still primarily wearing dresses, though pants were starting to make their way into their wardrobes. How many young people know who Maurice Chevalier was? I know him as one of the stars of “Monkeys Go Home!”. That fireplace that you mentioned sounds pretty neat - I have found that many fireplaces do a poor job of heating a room because they need to draw so much air in. You have to sit a foot from the flames to feel anything.

Melissa said...

Major, I was thinking as I wrote that comment, that there are people in their thirties who grew up on Beauty and the Beast but have no idea that Lumière was based on Maurice Chevalier.

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, Maurice Chevalier was also in the Disney film, "In Search of the Castaways," and he sang the opening/theme song in "The Aristocats."

"Lou and Sue" said...

TokyoMagic! Maurice Chevalier also starred with you-know-who In you-know-which TV show, don’t forget.

TokyoMagic! said...

Sue, I thought about that you-know-which, with you-know-who, but I had to force myself NOT to add that to my comment! I knew there was 50/50 shot that you or Nanook would mention it, so I figured my hands would be clean! Now YOU are the one who will have to stand in the corner after class! ;-)

Major Pepperidge said...

Melissa, I’ve grown so used to that terrible French accent that I didn’t even think that Lumière was based on Maurice.

TokyoMagic!, weird how Maurice Chevalier of all people somehow became a Disney staple. WHY NOT ERNEST BORGNINE?

Lou and Sue, Maurice Chevalier was in “Flipper”????

TokyoMagic!, I applaud your willpower and encourage you to continue to not talk about “that show”!