Friday, October 15, 2021

Edison Square Display, 1958

I have two beauties from Lou Perry, with thanks to Sue B. for scanning and sharing them with us! This first one (from 1958) is a real knockout, a very rare look at a tented display for the upcoming (but never-built) "Edison Square". I think it's so interesting that they were very certain of this new "land's" existence.

This tent was located off of the Plaza, sort of wedged between the INA Carefree Corner and the Red Wagon Inn, basically where the entrance to Edison Square was supposed to be. 

Here's a scan from a 1958 souvenir wall map (the first one produced!), with the cul-de-sac featuring the old-timey buildings of Edison Square - it's hard to tell if there would have been a noticeable difference in the architectural style from Main Street proper, or if it would be more of the same. (Notice "Liberty Street", another never-built concept, at the bottom of this image).

Zooming in to the left of Lou's photo, we can see a sign that says "Sleeping Beauty Castle"; the shadows have gone very dark, but it appears that the original model of the castle was displayed for interested guests.

Here's a great photo with that model, with Walt, artist Bruce Bushman (with the red tie), and Marvin Davis (an architect and designer instrumental in the development of Disneyland - and later Walt Disney World). 

Even darker was is the area where a display included the miniature of Main Street, USA.

Here's a famous photo of Walt looming over the model like a mustachioed Godzilla. 

The wonderful Disney History Institute website had this vintage photo, with some of Bruce Bushman's drawings lining the wall.

To wrap things up today, here's a nice photo of locomotive #3, the Fred Gurley - the newest addition to the fleet of steam locomotives to the Disneyland Railroad. Rather than starting from scratch as the Imagineers had done with the C.K. Holliday and the E.P. Ripley, they restored a genuine 1894 engine. It entered service at the park on March 28, 1958. 

MANY THANKS to Lou and Sue!


Nanook said...

Poor Edison Square... all that hoopla, and a complete bust-! Instead for 1959, guests had to settle for some "underwater adventure", a "train forced to roll-along a narrow, elevated 'highway'", and some "odd-ball 'dwarf mountain' with bobsleds hurtling through it on a pair of serpentine hollow tubes".

Thanks to Lou & Sue.


Edison Square was to have a series of exterior residential “blocks” each representing the architecture of a big American City — San Francisco— St. Louis —Chicago — New York.

Even after the Carousel of Progress was built Disneyland toyed with still building the Edison Square addition calling it “Gay 90’s Square” but I’ve seen no indication - if any as to what attractions it would have included. A friend of mine has a Disneyland “workbook” showing the Edison Square display in today’s pictures being converted to a Animation Art Festival using the same red and white striped tent structure. Almost like a Art Corner in Main Street.

Many, Many years ago I had the opportunity to purchase WED presentation folders for EDISON SQUARE and LIBERTY STREET. At the time I really could only afford one of the two ( looking back I should have just bought both!!) but I ended up getting the Edison Square book. I figured someday down the line I’d run across another Liberty Street proposal book - but nope! In the past few years I’ve seen several of the Edison Square books come up for auction and for sale. But never have I seen another Liberty Street book. Oh well.

JB said...

The lighting and stark composition in the first image makes it look so surreal. Sort of eerie; sort of beautiful.

I think I can see The Dent on that SBC model that Walt and the gang are discussing. ;-) So THAT'S how the dent got there! It was on the original model and nobody dared question Walt's decision making.

Nanook, yeah, the guests sure got the fuzzy end of the lollipop in '59, didn't they. (joking)

Thanks to Lou and Sue and Major for some interesting and rare photos.

- Jointed Bones

TokyoMagic! said...

Being a huge fan of the Carousel of Progress (the World's Fair and DL versions), I am fascinated by what Edison Square might have been. I believe the guests were going to walk from one scene to the next. Since this was before audio-animatronics, I'm just wondering what the various scenes (American Home - Pe-Electricity, Advent of Electricity, Contemporary Living, and The Electronic Age) would have looked like. Would they have had sets with actors? Painted plywood flats of people? Or just scenes without people?

Thank you for sharing such a rare photo, Lou, Sue, and Major!

- Tokyo Malevolent!

Chuck said...

Documentation of that Edison Square display is so rare. Thanks so much to Lou for capturing it for the rest of us to see.

I remember seeing that castle model in the Disney Gallery over PotC. It was a little faded by the early ‘90s - some of that light damage Mike was talking about recently. I wonder what kind of display conditions it has seen over the years?

I am now imagining Walt opening his mouth, bellowing out that Gojira scream and breathing atomic fire. I wonder if he ever saw the film? I know he screened a lot of movies both at work and in his rec room at home and they were pretty varied; he selected Fess Parker for the Davy Crockett role after seeing him in a minor role in Them!

JB, I had the same joke in mind, but I see that I have been beaten to the punch by a better man than I. Do you happen to know Gunga Din?

TM!, the original idea was live actors and audio-animatronic guests, but the technology of the time (as well as a belated realization that AA guests were somewhat less likely to buy souvenirs and food) forced a rewickering of the concept.

Andrew said...

I wonder what that tent behind the display is. I saw part of that Main St. model at Hollywood Studios.

Walt is arguing with Bruce Bushman over including the dented turret which was always going to be a little Easter egg but now that the castle was turned around it's more obvious but still nobody will ever notice it.

-Kim Irvine

K. Martinez said...

The first pic is fantastic! Such a rare shot. The second photo of the Fred Gurley is a beauty too. Thank you Lou & Sue and Major too.

Bu said...

It’s interesting how they wrapped the Main St. electric light standards with the tent material. I agree, this shot is echoes the Mickey Mouse Club Circus/Holidayland tent…it must have been a little odd there on Main Street. I wonder if in 1958 the club 55 people were saying “they ruin everything”? In any case, I am delighted to see it. Also strange that it’s touting Edison Square but displaying models of Main St. and Sleeping Beauty castle. I remember seeing that castle model in some iteration of “display”. I remember it looked quite fragile and dusty. There may have been a few models, so who knows. When I see those models with people in them I hear Walt saying “that’s a people!” In that show with Julie Rheim…or as he said “Julie Reems”. I guess Walt was what they call a “one take wonder”…there has got to be blooper reels somewhere of bigger guffaws than “Julie Reems.” I’ve been looking at that picture of the tent all morning…and it doesn’t seem like it would actually fit in that spot Major (?). I’m trying to figure out the spacing of the light standards to where that would be…possibly down a bit more towards the backside of Tomorrowland? It looked like a super popular display :) perhaps that is why it was shelved, however I remember talks of these areas still going on in the early 80’s…and those might have just been that: “talk” since Edison Square became the COP, and Liberty Street was ultimately built in WDW. Looking forward to seeing more the “never seen” Disneyland USA! Thanks Lou and Sue and Boo and Pooh!

Stu29573 said...

I actually never realized that Edison Square and Liberty Street were going to happen at the same time. I had always thought that one was a rework of the other. Why? Because I don't pay attention in class!

I'm pretty sure Edison St would have been a wax museum situation, like Pirates was going to be. Of course Vincent Price messed all that up with that movie that made everyone terrified of wax...or was it flies? I can't remember now. In any event both were banned from Disneyland early on (except for in the terrifying candle shop! Lots of flies there, I hear!)
I've never seen these exhibit shots before, but leave it to Lou for realizing we'd want to see them 70 years in the future!
Thanks Lou!

Stu-pendious Evil Level 29573

JG said...

Thank you Major, Lou and Sue! These are definitely historic documents!

I have a feeling that the circus tent was at least partly a ploy to show “something” cooking to keep guests interested in coming back, and any stock models or similar items on-hand could be plausibly included.

I like the idea of The Dent in the model too, Life Imitates Art.

I never realized that one of the engines was a real one, never knew they were made that small.

From reading those captions, it’s pretty clear that Liberty/Edison developments were set aside because they would be unbelievably boring.

Major, you should photoshop red glowing eyes onto Giant Walt and use that for Halloween!


Melissa said...

I’m sure we’ll hear some great stories from the model makers among us today!

The things that jumped out at me were in the map. At first glance I read “Fringetop Surreys” as “Fingertip Surreys” and was imagining some kind of transportation-based puppet show. Also, I’m disappointed we never got that Declaration of Independence diorama. They should go ahead on and build it at the American Experience pavilion at EPCOT. They could even use limited-motion AAs like the non-speaking Presidents in the Hall of Presidents to bring it more to life. Maybe build a John Hancock version of the Jacques-Droz writing automaton to make signed souvenirs.

S-pEL29573, one of my favorite Vincent Price stories is the time he went to the wax museum and stood in for his own statue, occasionally coming to life and scaring the guests.

-The Ghost of Melissa with her Head Tucked Underneath her Arm

Anonymous said...

Melissa, fingertip surrey makes me picture a surrey with severed fingers for the fringe! *shudders*

If I’m not mistaken isn’t there a wall in that area on Main Street that has start of a transition from straight laid bricks to “Liberty Street” era rougher laid bricks? The last remaining piece of this intended addition?

I’m loving The Dent origin story theory. Did we ever find out the real one? I know I just pop in periodically, but now I see The Dent everywhere!!! I gotta know.


"Lou and Sue" said...

Celeste, I think we all agreed that The Dent was caused by Tinkerbell slamming into that turret, before they added her wire (guide wire? guy wire? whatever it’s called). Until proven otherwise. :o)

I’ll be back when I have more time to job is in the way, again.

Nanook said...

HERE's an image from Daveland that shows that original location for The Art Corner.

Nanook said...

... and THIS

MRaymond said...

Many people aren't aware that locomotives 3, 4 and 5 are real, Baldwin locomotives. I don't know what they are officially called but I've heard them called "Plantation Locomotives." My dad explained that back in the old days, when trucks really weren't heavy-duty, a plantation or orchard would run a narrow-gauge rail system between the rows of produce. When it came time to harvest, these small trains would take the harvest to warehouses for sorting, shipping, etc.

The Fred Gurley (No 3) was used on a Sugarcane plantation
The Ernest Marsh (No 4) was used at a sand quarry.
The Ward Kimball (No 5) also hauled sugarcane.

All ran on narrow gauge railways and Disneyland's tracks are narrow gauge as well. As the three locomotives were restored they were given the "bright work" we see today to make them look Victorian. The cabs were scaled down to 5/8ths to make them look bigger then they actually are and to match up with the cars that carry guests that are also 5/8 scale.
More trivia; the Fred Gurley is the oldest locomotive running on Disneyland and Disney World property. The locomotive was built in 1894.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, ha ha, you make a good point! Sure, we settled for other stuff, but somehow we soldiered on.

Mike Cozart, I didn’t know that there were going to be blocks modeled on the architecture of famous U.S. cities. Man, I’d love to see those WED presentation folders that you mentioned. At least you got the Edison Square version, but I know what you mean, it is always agonizing (as a collector and fan) to have to pick and choose when, in your heart, you really want both amazing items.

JG, I think the first one looks a bit eerie because there are no other people around. Just ghosts! So funny, I almost made a joke about Walt discussing the dent on the castle, but then I didn’t. You got to it pretty fast!

TokyoMagic!, I think all good Disneyland fans are fascinated by attractions (particularly from the Walt era) that were never built. I wonder if there would have been tableaus with static figures, but with programmed lighting and sound? Or maybe even a bit of limited movement? We’ll never know of course. I can’t imagine they would have done it with actors, based on Walt’s preferences. Painted plywood flats, no, NO! Maybe hand puppets?

Chuck, I think I have seen the castle model too, but I don’t recall thinking that it was faded. I probably was not observant enough. Or perhaps it has been restored and painted bright pink and blue? Somehow I imagine Walt rampaging down Main Street in the “South Park” style of animation. Interesting to wonder if he ever saw “Gojira” or even the Americanized version. And I’m still pro hand puppet for ALL attractions.

Andrew, that was Walt’s OTHER apartment. He loved the circus so much that he wanted to sleep under the Big Top. (I honestly don’t know what that tent is for).

K. Martinez, yes, these are special, and Sue just sent me some more fantastic (and completely different) scans that I am excited to share with you.

Bu, I think Sue told us that Lou was already upset about the removal of the Viewliner, so I’ll bet that there were fans who were not happy with some of the MANY changes happening around the park. “This place used to have class!”. I wonder if that Main Street model showed where Edison Square was going to branch off (see the map scan)? It does feel a bit like a case of “Well, we have to put *something* in this darn display!”. I’ve heard audio outtakes, possibly from the Magic Skyway at the World’s Fair, where Walt flubs his lines occasionally. Imagine having to tell him that he’ll need to do another take! I don’t believe that the Edison Square display was in the back side of Tomorrowland, but I don’t know for sure. Daveland has a good photo of this tent, maybe his picture shows more of the surrounding area.

Major Pepperidge said...

Stu29573, ha ha, Why don’t you pay attention? And if you didn’t bring enough gum for the whole class, you’ll have to spit yours out. I think you’re right about the “wax museum situation”, and for its time, it probably would have been OK, though I doubt it would have lasted very long in that state. I’ve seen displays at World’s Fairs that were essentially that idea. I once tried to bring wax into the park and was immediately thrown in Disney jail.

JG, maybe you’re right, there might have been a hotplate and some folding chairs in that tent, where CMs could take a break. I can’t help imagining something a bit more exciting than that, though! By now, THREE of the locomotives are actual antiques, with the “Ward Kimball” being the most recent addition. You should read Steve DeGaetano’s “Welcome Aboard the Disneyland Railroad”, it’s full of fun information! If I was home today I would definitely do the red glowing eyes on Walt, but sadly I won’t be back until late tonight.

Melissa, puppets need transportation too, and a “Fingertip Surrey” is the preferred way to go. Thinking of that Declaration of Independence diorama makes me think of Walt’s early “Disneylandia” concept, with lots of detailed dioramas that guests would view on a special train car. They had one of the dioramas at a now-defunct Museum of Miniatures in L.A., Walt actually worked on it a bit.

Celeste, hmmm, I admit that my brain didn’t go THERE! Ah, it makes me feel so normal now (just teasing). There is a part of a wall that has regular, nice bricks on one half and wavy “Dr. Caligari” bricks on the other half. Not sure WHY though, since structures from the Colonial era were as neat and tidy as could be. I didn’t even know about THE DENT until recently, and I’ve never heard an origin story, but I’d love to know as well.

Lou and Sue, Tink really could be out of control, and if you factor in strong winds, forget about it!

Nanook, thanks for the links to those two photos!

MRaymond, I love the history behind those locomotives, though I also love the first two that were built at the Studio. There’s something about a locomotive that is actually 100 years old that gets one’s respect! And they look so beautiful. Another good book to check out is Michael Broggie’s “Walt Disney’s Railroad Story”, I saw him give a talk years ago and it was fascinating. Not sure if that book can be found at an affordable price these days. Thanks for all the info on the trains, I’ve read so much, but much of it didn’t stick in my brain (which is like a sieve). Sounds to me like you are a real fan of those trains!

Anonymous said...

Apparently, the reason for the brick wall variation remains in limbo. Daveland had a post about it a while back.

As for the completion of both Edison and Liberty Streets into the back area...sort of a shame that didn't happen. The land remains filled with support trailers today when you take a satellite view of the park. Pretty much the way I remember it as a CM 50 years ago. I think it would be impossible today with the administrative building and Space Mountain looming above the sight lines. Great pics L&S! KS

Bu said...

I've seen photos of that "test wall" actually propped up in the middle of Main Street when Main Street was in construction. In my days of commercial construction we always had that sort of thing everywhere- with us "creatives" showing options to the "suits". There was probably a hole that they needed to fill and someone said "put that thing there"....and there it is! Nanook...thanks for the pic of Art Corner- I'm not sure what came first...the ugly tent, or the ugly tent, the chicken, or the egg? Looks like they did a better recycle of it with Edison corner. It kills me to see all of that animation art baking in the So.Cal. sun. Do your point KS- yes...that land was filled with support trailers in my time too...and they are probably the same ones today! The entire IT department at one point was in the crappiest trailer of all back by the pony farm. Plenty of free parking back there! You could have very well been in Wyoming and not next to one of the most famous places in the world. They probably have their own gigantic building now. Very cool to see a slice of unseen history this morning. Wondering if there was any press on not going forward with the original plan as it morphed into the COS and WDW? I suppose they did the same kind of hoopla around Discovery Bay and Circus land and then that morphed into a few other places and countries (quite literally.) As far as the locomotives, we were all schooled to regurgitate that they were all authentic antiques from sugar cane plantations. I think I'm still confused if they were a Walt Disney Production, or old things....funny to realize now that today those old things would be only as old as Disneyland is today. I don't really consider items from the 50's "antique"...but I suppose I am a bit of an antique myself.


The whole existence of the Carousel of Progress is because of EDISON SQUARE. General Electric wanted an attraction in Disneyland and Edison Square was the evolution of that request. When GE reps in the early 60’s saw the revised plans they demanded that THIS is what they wanted for the New York World’s Fair!! WED knew they didn’t have time to do the whole walk through town homes ( Edison Square had guests walking thru various homes ... and each home they walked through another decade or two had past .... I think the future home was 1978. A unseen narrator who was introduced in the GE/Edison laboratory would describe each of the advancements of each advancing period. The residents would be seen doing their everyday activities unaware of the 80 people standing in their home. I think only the final scene “1978” has the family talking to the audience.
Anyway , you can see how The Carousel of Progress was a scaled down concise version of the Edison Square show.


The famous Disneyland castle model that appears with some of the Main Street USA models in that Edison Square preview exhibit is the same castle model that was on display at the Disney Gallery beginning in 1987.

After Disneyland opened the Main Street models , the Adventureland models and the Castle models were used for decades by the Disneyland decorating department- that’s why they survive to this day! These models were often used along Main Street when there was a tenant vacancy or construction going on inside. I have some Disneyland sign shop documentation that shows the placards for the Jungle Cruise dock and boathouse and the Main Street depot and the castle STILL on display in 1973. You can see parts of the models in the photo but the photographer is focusing on the sign graphic of the display plaque in front.

At some point WDI was given a series of boxes From decorating that featured these models - in pieces. They sat that way for a few years. The castle model was in about 5 cardboard boxes and imagineers Bruce Gordon ( of Disneyland nickel tour fame ) and Jeff Burke with a team of other model makers restored the Disneyland castle model for the opening of The Disney Gallery in 1987.

Eventually the other surviving models were also restored for the traveling exhibit The Architecture of Reassurance. A DUPLICATE of the original Disneyland castle model was build by WDI for the Disney Gallery at Tokyo Disneyland.

The Disneyland Castle model was part of the Disneyland Story exhibit at Disneyland’s Opera House during the 50th anniversary and remained there for a few years after until the exhibits began changing.


Disneyland’s Liberty Street was still being planned into the 1960’s (for Disneyland California ) as Liberty Square . By 1972 it was given the go ahead to process however the final location for its entrance - located between Frontierland and Fantasyland relied on another project involving Western River Expedition and Thunder Mesa Runnaway Railroad to be duplicated at Disneyland stalled when those attractions were postponed for Florida . Disneyland wanted to add one of the new Florida attractions right away .... and Liberty Square with the Hall of Presidents lost its “space” knowing Space Mountain would be following down the line there was concern about squeezing in Liberty Square between Main Street and Tomorrowland . The two candidates to be added to Disneyland became Country Bear Jamboree and The Mickey Mouse Revue. The bear show was such a hit at Walt Disney World , Disneyland picked that as its quick addition.

Disneyland’s Liberty Square remained A active project through the 70’s and even into the 80’s with The American Adventure ultimately replacing Hall of Presidents in the plan.

Liberty Square at Disneyland had its last “hurrah” by the time Toon Town was built. in the early 90’s plans show Liberty Square accessible from its main entry - between Plaza Inn and first Aide( Edison Square’s location !!) with additional entries in Tomorrowland and East Center Street , Main Street USA. The American Adventure attraction entrance uses Liberty Hall facade but the show building huts back behind lincoln theater ( Lincoln theater would become the Magic Journeys show)

On line a blury image of the 1990’s Liberty Square model can be found having been pulled from I think Tim Delaney portfolio.


Sue: you should publish a photo pictorial of your dad’s Disneyland visits — some rare stuff!

Melissa said...

I knew there would be some good behind-the-scenes memories from the Junior Gorilla Model Experts, and I wasn't disappointed!

I always joke that the Bicentennial lasted from the early 1960's to the early 1980's. There was just a heightened sense of people digging Early Americas stuff.

I remember my aunt being excited that she got "Early American Drapes" for her living room. The pattern of the fabric was a lot like the "Early American" Pyrex pattern, but in addition to the pictures of eagles and Minutemen and stuff, the words "Early American" were also incorporated into the design. You know, in case you couldn't figure out what you were looking at.

Also, I always have trouble not singing along to the "Golden Dream" song at the American Experience because we sang it several times in my junior high chorus. Americaaaa, spread your golden wiiiings, sail on freedom's wiiiind, 'cross the sky-y-y-y... There's an earworm for you.

"Lou and Sue" said...

Nanook, I love your description of what we had to settle for. :o)

JB, I can definitely see The Dent in the model!

LOL, Andrew! I see what you did.

Thank you, Bu, Mike, MRaymond and KS - for all the background info and personal stories.

Major, Nanook & KS - your added photos really filled in lots of the missing info. (Thank you Daveland, too.)

I keep learning so much from you folks - you make my dad's pictures 'come alive.'

Looking at that map, I wonder what that ship, by Griffin's Wharf, was going to exhibit? a restaurant?? Does anyone know?

Thanks for everyone's fun comments and laughs, today, too!