Saturday, May 21, 2022

Times Square, October 1954

I have some scarce night shots from New York's Times Square, circa 1954 - with the slow film speeds of those days, these are kind of a miracle. Sometimes called the "crossroads of the world", Times Square was (and still is) famous for its gigantic neon signs and movie marquees - some of them were the largest in the world at the time. Here we have ads for Canadian Club whisky, Admiral television and appliances, and Pepsi Cola. To the left, the movie theater is showing "The Adventures of Hajji Baba", which debuted on October 1, 1954. To the right is a huge billboard for "Suddenly" starring Frank Sinatra and Sterling Hayden.

Also in Times Square was this large billboard for Kleenex, featuring the then-beloved comic character "Little Lulu". Lulu debuted in the Saturday Evening Post in 1935 as a character from artist Marjorie Henderson Buell, but became even more well-known when John Stanley began writing and drawing comic books with Lulu and her friends in the 1950s. She is largely forgotten today, but those comics are widely regarded for their clever writing.

Here's an old ad for Kleenex featuring Lulu and her dog Rover. They sure love Kleenex!

There was even a Little Golden Book with Lulu and Tubby showing you "things to make and do with Kleenex tissues"! Synergy.

I almost threw this one away, but figured I'd post it just for kicks. Besides giant ads for Budweiser and the Capitol Theatre, we can just see the enormous electrified ad for Camel cigarettes to the right. It changed over the years, but always had a character blowing real smoke rings. It was there from 1944 to 1966.

I hope you have enjoyed your visit to Times Square!

Friday, May 20, 2022

Fantasyland in the Fitties

I have two swell views of Fantasyland from the early days, they are colorful and fun. Let's start with this shot - an unusual angle - from just outside of the Snow White dark ride (the mural is barely visible to our right), it looks like it was a busy day. The haze gives the scene a dreamy quality, don't you think? As busy as it was, the wait to board your mine cart couldn't have been too long, although those Fantasyland dark ride queues could be deceptive. 

I absolutely love these scenes from the classic 1950s Disneyland!

Nearby there was the Mad Tea Party ride, caught in mid-spin. The present of the Skyway tells us that this is at least 1956 - if I had to bet, I'd gamble that the photos are from that very year. It's nice to see the wonderful Skyway Chalet; while it sat unused for years, I'd always hoped that they might find a use for it. No such luck.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Scenes on the Plaza, October 1967

Here's a pair of slides taken by a photographer as he/she strolled around the Plaza on an October afternoon. Sorry the color is a bit odd, these slides had turned sort of purple, and I had a hard time restoring them to anything that looked normal.

First up is this nice shot of the Plaza Pavilion had been there since opening day, and, like many Disneyland eateries, was originally sponsored by Swift and Co. That oval sign to the left originally said "Swift". All of that gingerbread decoration is impressive, presumably all done by hand by old-world craftsmen who learned their skills building sets for studios. It's amazing that there is not a single person eating, or even standing around twiddling their thumbs!

Here's an odd one; a group of men, in suit jackets or shirt sleeves, seems to be walking alongside Baloo and King Louis. Maybe all of them are heading toward the Plaza Inn for a nice lunch. Could those men all be Disney "suits"? 

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Town Square, March 1962

I have two nice ones for you today, circa 1962. The place: Town Square.

I particularly love this first one, with a tour guide leading her baby ducks through Town Square. That gentleman appears to be smitten! It looks like they are headed toward the Opera House, which might have contained the sets from "Babes in Toyland" at that point. I'm especially proud of this one, because it was initially a reject - there was a bright orange light leak right up the middle of the picture. But (through the magic of Photoshop) I was able to fix it, though you can still see evidence of it if you look closely.

Speaking of looking closely, we can see two other tour guides in the distance, one framed by the archway of the Police Station to the left, and another at the extreme right. They must have just released them from their enclosure!

This next one was taken around the same time, with the clear early morning light making everything look so pretty. There's an Omnibus waiting for what might be its first compliment of passengers; we also get a Surrey and a Horse Drawn Streetcar at no extra charge.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Sue's Birthday!

 I'd like to wish our good friend Sue B. a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY today! I told Sue that I'd like to post something special for her, if she was willing, and she scanned some fun family photos to share.

Awwwww! There's little Sue, in her frilly bonnet, held in the arms by her mother Donna. I love the expression on her face! She's a happy baby.

Here's Donna and Sue again. Sue is looking very dramatic, I think she might be quoting Shakespeare. "Now is the winter of our discontent!". When I look at my own family photos, it's always so amazing to see my mom when she was a new mother, she looked so young.

And here's LOU AND SUE! What an awesome photo, with Lou proudly holding his daughter, they will be pals for decades to come. Thank you for sharing these wonderful images, Sue!

I do have some Disneyland images for you today as well; not "Lou and Sue" scans, but still pretty nice in my opinion. Both are from April, 1959.

A good photo of the original Moonliner is always a thing of beauty; even though it was half-scale, it still looked like you could climb aboard (maybe you'd need a jet pack to fly up to the cockpit?) and take that baby for a spin. It had an AM radio, so you know they spent all the money. I like the little family gazing at the sign at the base of the rocket.

Next we have the wonderful Monsanto House of the Future, where "wood" is a four-letter word. Plastic is where it's at, baby! It's always fun to see it juxtaposed with the castle - Disneyland is a kooky place. I told Walt that the Monsanto house should rotate, and suggested 45 rpm - a good round number. As usual, he ignored my brilliant idea.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Last Two From July 1976

Like the title of today's post says, I'm using up the last two scans from a small lot from 1976. They were fun while they lasted.

Two girls (who have appeared in most of the photos from this batch) sit in a Mad Tea Party teacup; At some point the teacups were repainted with new colors and graphics, not sure when that was done. Somehow that cup with the hearts looks very '70s, don't you think? Notice the ornamental arches that now surrounded the attraction. They look good, and they keep vampires away.

One of the Dumbi soars to a height of 20 feet, and both girls are about to gray out due to the speed and lack of oxygen. Hey, that spire to the left has its own little dent!

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Blurry Fantasyland 1950s

After scanning a fairly large batch of slides from the '50s, I found a number that were very dark for some reason. Others turned out to be blurry, though not so blurry as to be without merit. Rather than delete those blurry scans, I figured I'd share them today. Because, you know... Snoozer Sundays!

I've made an executive decision - that our Skyway gondola was heading toward the Fantasyland chalet terminal. Since most people sit facing in the direction that they are traveling, I'm probably wrong, but I'm afraid that there will be no refunds. 

Say, there's a big ol' whale down there. And he's hungry! Sure, Monstro likes the steady meals, but maybe just once he'd like some spaghetti and meatballs, or maybe taco. While it's too bad about the blurriness, we can still see things like the Midget Autopia and the little yellow garage; above that, the blue Viewliner can be seen leaving the station (with its pink arched sign). And let's not forget the Fantasyland train depot.

Man, I hope that's not smog reducing our visibility - but it probably is. Yuck. To the right of Cinderella Castle in Storybook Land we can see what I believe is the red barn that was part of the Pony Farm. Notice the train tunnel just to the right of the Pirate Ship.

Well, we've come to the end of our journey (or is it the beginning?), this would be the view right outside the Skyway Chalet, with Cinderella Castle again. I wonder why those eucalyptus trees to the left have been so drastically pruned? Tree Talk, every Sunday here on GDB.

I'll be home soon, but for now I am still out of town!

Saturday, May 14, 2022

LAX Theme Building

Most airports are not things of beauty (though some have structures that stand out, such as the former TWA terminal at JFK). Their purpose is to move many thousands of people through as efficiently as possible, and not much thought seems to be given to aesthetics. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is a typical big-city airport in most ways, but it has one of the most striking pieces of architecture anywhere; the "Theme Building". There it is (from November, 1964), looking futuristic and cool! The Theme Building was dedicated by Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1961.

Here's a wonderful 1961 architectural rendering. From Wikipedia: Influenced by "Populuxe" architecture, it is an example of the Mid-century modern design movement later to become known as "Googie". Constructed near the beginning of the Space Age, the building is an example of how aeronautics and pop culture, design and architecture came together in Los Angeles.

The distinctive white building resembles a flying saucer that has landed on its four legs. The initial design was created by James Langenheim, of Pereira & Luckman, subsequently taken to fruition by a team of architects and engineers headed by William Pereira and Charles Luckman, that also included Paul Williams and Welton Becket. 

The next two images are from 1977. The glassed-in area used to be a restaurant, which never rotated, though many people will swear that it did. Even those breezeway blocks are wonderfully mid-century. The appearance of the building's signature crossed arches as homogeneous structures is a design illusion, created by topping four steel-reinforced concrete legs extending approximately 15 feet above the ground with hollow stucco-covered steel trusses. To counteract earthquake movements, the Theme Building was retrofitted in 2010 with a tuned mass damper without changing its outward appearance.

Here's a view from the observation deck, with the airport's old control tower to the left, along with some hangars and a bit of runway in the distance.

Here's a contemporary shot of the building at night, as you can see, it's pretty great! Ocean fog often descends on LAX in the evenings, as in this photo.

Here's a nice interior (from Wikipedia) showing the inside of the "Encounters" restaurant, designed by Walt Disney Imagineering, which opened in 1997. I had dinner there one time with a friend who is a Jet Blue flight attendant, it was a fun experience. When the elevator doors closed, a kooky song (by Esquivel, perhaps) played. Sadly, Encounters closed at the end of 2013, mostly due to the fact that travelers had to leave the secure areas to dine, and would have to go through the whole security screening process again if they wanted to return to their gates. As far as I know this area has been shuttered ever since.

I hope you have enjoyed your visit to the LAX Theme Building!

I'm still out of town, but should be home soon

Friday, May 13, 2022

Coke Corner, 1973

I'm going to be out of town for the next few days, but keep checking in, there's new stuff for you!

It's Friday the 13th, folks! Try to be extra-careful when crossing the street, and don't let any black cats cross your path. 

Today I have two more beautiful photos taken by Mr. X back in 1973. He was armed with his brand-new 35mm camera, and was ready to capture images of his favorite place. Oxnard ("The gateway to Camarillo")!  But first he had to take some pictures at Disneyland. 

X was a particular fan of the Coca Cola Refreshment Corner, or "Coke Corner" as the cool kids (i.e. yours truly) call it. Both of today's photos look like they could have easily been taken for a souvenir guidebook or ad campaign. Here's the side of the Coke Corner that faces out toward the Plaza, the place is abuzz with activity. ABUZZ, DO YOU HEAR? 

Here's another angle, equally great. I love observing the guests. Do you think the man with the sombrero was a guest? Count the number of souvenir hats in both photos! There's a girl with a Mickey t-shirt, how many just like it did you see back then? I had one. Above her head you can see the alternating red and white lightbulbs - most of you have probably seen the photo of the one lightbulb that is half white, half red. It has something to do with the Illuminati.

Thursday, May 12, 2022


Greetings, junior gorillas, and welcome to GDB's SIXTEENTH ANNIVERSARY! Old enough to get a learner's permit. What can I say, it's been a long journey to get here, but a rewarding one, thanks to YOU, the faithful readers. Without your participation, I wouldn't be typing this today. If Google's stats are to be believed (and why wouldn't they be?) you would probably be surprised at how few people visit this blog each day... but that's OK! I'm perfectly happy with the way things are. I could take obvious steps to try to lasso more eyeballs, but "More people equals more problems". Pepperidge's Law.

I was unsure about what to share with you on this occasion, but I remembered that I had a high-res scan from a somewhat-faded color transparency that has to be from 1955, and might even be from just before the park debuted to the public. As much as I might wish that this shot is unique, I'd say it's likely that the transparency is a duplicate. Just a hunch. Perhaps you've seen it elsewhere, but maybe not in as much detail.

Here's the entire image, with the parking lot, and a good sense of the surrounding area, including farmland and orchards. It's funny how the trapezoidal shape of that early park evokes some warm fuzzies in me. TANTALIZING TRAPEZOIDS.

Let's zoom in! There are quite a few cars in the parking lot, but I'd imagine that there were hundreds people frantically scrambling to get the park ready for its debut on July 17th. Because Bill Evans (along with Ruth Shellhorn and Joseph Linesch) planted the Adventureland jungle early, it is already in a nice state of development at this point.

The familiar shape of the Rivers of America can be seen, and the Mark Twain already sits at the dock waiting for passengers, possibly in mere days or hours. The site of the Rainbow Desert is just featureless dirt at this point (that ride wouldn't open until 1956). We can also see the Pony Farm (near the top, to the left), and the Plantation House (just below the Mark Twain). We can also see the Bandstand to the right, as well as an area with Indian teepees (to the right of the Mark Twain) which didn't last long.

There's Adventureland, with the Tahitian Lanai appearing to be complete. One jungle launch is afloat on the Rivers of the World. Is that the Carnation truck right below City Hall (in what is a backstage area)? Notice the abundance of vehicles parked in the Plaza, as well as on that road around what would eventually be Holiday Hill. If you look closely, you can see a tiny Casey Jr. Circus Train right near the Pirate Ship. Look at all that nothin' in the northeast corner of the park!

The ticket booths are ready for business, I hope you have a dollar for admission. We see a lot of Tomorrowland's backstage area here, including the Dominguez home, used as the administration building. There seems to be a crane near the Moonliner, and the Passenger Train (pulled by the E.P. Ripley, I presume) is at rest in front of Main Street Station.  

Well, what else is nice enough to share on this momentous occasion? I suppose this next image is pretty sweet, a photo taken from the Disneyland Hotel circa August, 1963. There are the obvious details, such as the parking lot, and the Matterhorn, and even the McDonell Douglas Moonliner. But what else can we spot?

I always like seeing the sign for the miniature golf course that was once a part of the Disneyland Hotel complex. Not too long before, Holidayland would have been visible, but it was rudely removed and construction for the Haunted Mansion was underway. You can see the actual house looks complete, but the orange steel supports for the Disneyland Railroad pass above a tunnel that (I believe) is where guests walk as they view the portrait gallery.

Looking a bit to the right, there is another tunnel (some sort of maintenance access, I presume - or is it "Walt's Secret Entrance"??). The red foliage of the Swiss Family Treehouse is clearly visible, and to the right of that we can see more orange steel, early construction for a "Pirates" walk-thru attraction. A "thieves market" if you will. With low, low prices and top-quality meat and produce! 

Wulp, that about does it for today. Sure, it was really only two photos, if you are keeping score. But they were good ones, don't you think? Thank you to everyone who checks in on a regular basis, and a big family-sized THANK YOU to those of you who take the time to comment, it makes this whole thing a lot more fun for me - and everyone else too. Everyone is so funny, smart, and NICE, it is proof that miracles still happen.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

1956 Souvenir Richfield Map

A few weeks ago I shared scans of the 1955 souvenir road map from your helpful Richfield dealer. Today you'll see the 1956 version, which is equally nice, or maybe even better. It's subjective!

There's the cover, featuring the most iconic symbol of Disneyland, Sleeping Beauty Castle. I always wonder if a Disney artist did this design, or if Richfield found their own talented illustrator?

Let's unfold this baby! Like the 1955 version, this one has some sweet artwork, showing the brand-new Skyway, a not-very-accurate Astro Jets, and other familiar sights. Of course they emphasize the fascinating free Richfield show, The World Beneath Us, as well as the Autopia which they also sponsored. And while you're at it, why not fill up at your friendly neighborhood Richfield gas station? You can't buy a finer gasoline!

Inside is a stylized map (as if we are heading to the park in our flying car) showing all of the primary routes so that you can get to the park from anywhere in SoCal.

I've mentioned my love of almost any Disneyland map, and while this tiny graphic might not qualify as a "map", it's still wonderful!

 My gosh, I have so much Disneyland paper ephemera, I really need to scan more of it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Previously Skipped, and MORE

Today felt like some sort of scary milestone - I finished scanning all of the slides in a storage box. I thought that meant that I only had one box of slides left! But I was mistaken, I have two full boxes, plus another one that is about 1/3 full. That's probably around 1,500 slides, give or take a few. No need to panic yet!

My folder containing new scans of "previously skipped" slides is running low, but what can you do? Not much, I'm afraid. These were omitted from "prime time" for various reasons that made sense at the time. But they are worth a look!

Here's a shot of the Alice in Wonderland attraction as seen from the Skyway. from and undated slide (but it must be from 1958 or later, or course). The image was quite faded, and as you can see there are a number of areas of damage that now look like magical flames. I love the Caterpillar vehicles as they wind their way down the circuitous leafy track. At this point the ride was run by young women in blue dresses and white pinafores, as well as by men who look like they should be working at NASA's Mission Control.

Next is this photo from December of 1960, it's actually quite pretty, with the late-afternoon light casting a warm glow over everything. I assume that I originally skipped this one because I thought it was a bit dull, but my opinion has changed. The Matterhorn was not even two years old, and not yet infested with yetis. Two orange trees, covered in fruit, are near the Monsanto House of the Future. Who can ID those two posters?

Here's a neat image that was created in Photoshop by archivist and historian Jason Schultz (he gave me permission to share it with you), using a January 1960 scan from GDB, and inserting a frame from the "Building Walt's Dream" DVD featurette. It shows camera-shy Roy Disney standing in the dirt field that would eventually become Disneyland. Behind Roy is the same orange tree that (for a while) continued to stand right near the Monsanto House of the Future! Imagineer Tom Morris is researching certain original landmarks from the park ("Disneyland archaeology"), including notable trees (palm trees, etc) and even some rocks (!), attempting to track them as the park evolved. 

 Many thanks to Jason Schultz for sharing this cool image.

Monday, May 09, 2022

More Magic Kingdom Posters

Back on March 18th, I was happy to share some amazing and rare photos of attraction posters from the Magic Kingdom, taken by Lou Perry and scanned & shared with us by his daughter, Sue B. Well here is PART DEUX

I have blathered on and on about my love for the original silkscreened posters from Disneyland, so it was such an amazing day when Sue sent these great photos featuring the Florida versions - in many cases they are very similar to their Disneyland counterparts, only the text has been altered (and they were also slightly smaller). Here's the Haunted Mansion. In Liberty Square! Of course the actual Mansion has been changed as well, for obvious reasons.

I love this Monorail poster, in part because it is just plain cool, with the A-frame Contemporary Hotel (was it ever intended to be open on the end like that?); I'm sure many of you have noticed that the Monorail is the old Disneyland style, rather than the "Learjet" Mark IV style that was actually used back in those days.

The "Tropical Serenade" poster looks much like the 1967 version of Disneyland's "Enchanted Tiki Room" design.

The "Flight to the Moon" poster is nearly identical to Disneyland's version, only it lacks the "Presented by McDonnell Douglas" text.

The Gran Prix Raceway (I guess I always got the name wrong, calling it the "Grand Prix Raceway") poster is just like the Anaheim classic, although those cool "Hot Wheels" flames have been added to that car, making it look extra boss! The dad and son still look like they are right out of the 1950s. "Easy there, Sport!". "Aw, gee whiz, Pop!".

This last one is so surprising to me; the design is so "1950s Disneyland", even reflecting the Eyvind Earle-type stylization that appears in Disney's short films of the mid-50s. And yet... I would sure love to have one of these in my collection! 

 As always, MANY thanks to Lou Perry and Sue B. for sharing these amazing photos!