Saturday, December 30, 2023

Two Mystery Photos, and One Non-Mystery Photo

I've been scanning a lot of random slides recently, and half the fun is trying to ID the locations of unlabeled examples. Sometimes it's pretty easy, but other times, I find that I am completely stumped. The first two examples have baffled me, but I am confident that the Junior Gorillas will come to the rescue!

First up is this rather striking photo - undated, but almost surely from the 1950s. We see a nice downtown area (plenty of metered parking available!) taken as the last rays of sunshine add a warm glow to the buildings - contrasted with the dark, stormy sky. The photo is not quite sharp enough to allow some of the small signs to be legible. Way in the distance is what might be a Civil War monument to Confederate soldiers. I hoped that the Empire Furniture Co. building to the left might help - but it didn't. Maybe one of you recognizes the high-rise in the distance.

Next is another undated, unlabeled slide, probably from the 1970s. We see that interesting saucer-shaped building (a convention center?), surrounded by palm trees. To the left is a banner advertising the Jerry Lewis Telethon, so I thought this might be Las Vegas, but the cars all appear to have California driver's license plates (I found no yellow Nevada plates when I searched online). It's a mere coincidence that this photo also features a sunlit foreground and a stormy sky!

This third example was a mystery for a while! Many of you will recognize the two boys, who have appeared on GDB several times (see HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE). Where are they this time? At first I thought it might be Union Square, San Francisco. But luckily for me, we can see the KING'S CLUB in the background. Look at all those pigeons on the grass, yuck!

Looking that up, I found this matchbook for King's Club, 401 Broadway at 4th, in San Diego. 

This screen grab from Google Maps "street view" shows a contemporary view (looking eastward), that's Horton Plaza Park between us and the former location of King's Club.

Apparently the building where King's Club was located was torn down and replaced with what we see here, a serviceable but boring building with no ghosts whatsoever.

 I'm sure I will have more MYSTERY PHOTOS for you!


Nanook said...

I love images with 'dramatic skies'-! Although I love even more clubs featuring "...Excellent cocktails in a pleasant atmosphere.." Who would ask for anything more-?

Thanks, Major.

JB said...

Wow, striking indeed! It almost looks magical. On the left edge is a sign for (I think) Sunshine Bakery. The clock above the Sherwin-Williams sign is kind of weird. the numerals start with "one" on the bottom left of the dial and continue up, and around to twelve, on the bottom right. I've never seen a clock like that before. Really interesting, and nice, street lamps as well.
Perhaps that monument in the distance could be Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church? Or maybe Brigham Young? I do get a Salt Lake City vibe when viewing this photo. I could also be completely mistaken.

Hmm, this one is just as puzzling as the previous photo, maybe more so. There are some distinctive signs, or banners, on that domed building; yellow squares with red designs. One looks like a "T" in the center of a circle, surrounded by a six-pointed star. The palm trees and stormy sky makes me think of San Diego for some reason. Again, like the first photo, I have no idea why.

I had a shocked reaction to the third photo: ALL THOSE DEAD PIGEONS! Well, they DO sort of look dead, don't they? Looking at all those other photos you linked to, these bros really got around, didn't they!

Mystery photos are FUN! Even if I have no idea where they are. Thanks, Major.


Horton Plaza was named after founder of downtown San Diego (new town) Alonzo Horton. The Horton Plaza fountain was the first electric built fountain in the United States . It was once across the street from The Horton House - now occupied by the US GRANT HOTEL. Alonzo Horton was considered sort of a San Diego hero - being the father of the modern city … but he was a land speculator and developer … and tried many shady ways of moving the stage line offices, the town hall and the court and land records from Old Town San Diego …. The birthplace of california…. The citizens fought it and tried to prevent the death of old town … until a group of hooded men broke into the town hall and loaded All the records and land documents and moved them to a Biden location … in New Town … and shortly after a mysterious fire broke out in the brick courthouse destroying most of old town in 1872 - the death knell of the original city center . Old town rapidly declined and new town boomed until old town was designated a state historic park in 1967 - the most visited in all of california.


Biden = hidden

Melissa said...

Nice detective work!

JG said...

I have no idea of photo 1 location. There’s plenty of good, solid American architecture and signs, but nothing looks familiar in this configuration. My home town had Sherwin-Williams and Texaco signs just like these, but I don’t think I’ve ever been to this place.

I thought photo 2 might be the Blaisdell Center, or possibly the SimpliFi Arena at University of Hawaii Manoa, both in Honolulu, but neither seem to match.

Nice job on Horton Park, I was guessing downtown LA with no research at all. I bet the Kings Club has a jar of pickled eggs on the bar, and I love the matchbook.

Thanks Major, these are always fun jaunts.


Chuck said...

Photo 2 is the Arena at the Blaisdell Center (then known as the Honolulu International Center). The camera is pointed east at the intersection of Ward Ave and Kapiolani Blvd. Based on the license plates, this photo was taken some time from 1969-75.

Nanook said...

@ JB-
"The clock above the Sherwin-Williams sign is kind of weird. the numerals start with "one" on the bottom left of the dial and continue up, and around to twelve, on the bottom right. I've never seen a clock like that before".

Probably because that's a thermometer... That "one" is actually a "0".

Dean Finder said...

The first picture looks like any number of towns in Kansas and Oklahoma I saw when I worked in the oil industry. Sadly, most looked pretty run-down by then.

The giant thermometer on the paint store suggests it's a place that has some extremes in temperature.

LTL said...

I'm pressed for time, but go to Google Maps for Sunshine Bakery Augusta Georgia... street view shows empire furniture bldg

Kathy! said...

Could pic #1 be Broad Street in Augusta, Georgia? When searching Sunshine Bakery and Empire Furniture, after Major’s post, a National Register of Historic Forms document comes up listing businesses with those 2 names, plus a Confederate monument. I’m on my phone and can’t easily compare modern pictures of that area with this one. Anyway, I like the little elephant-shaped sign on the left. Good IDing on the Blaisdell, JG and Chuck. Lots of palm trees like you’d expect in Hawaii. I’m going to get some snacks at King’s. Thanks, Major.

LTL said...

anyway, I googled (with quotes)...

"empire furniture" "sunshine bakery"

first result seems to be some kind of weblog about primates(!)

second result is PDF of historic district, then I googled these businesses in Augusta

gotta go, happy new year to all!!!!!!

LTL said...

Ha!, Kathy, we had the exact same idea! on street view, the top window details of the furniture bldg seem to match exactly

Chuck said...

LTL is right - that's Broad Street in Augusta, GA, looking ESE towards the Augusta Confederate Monument.

The tall structure to the left of the monument is the 17-story Lamar Building. The pyramidal roof was replaced in 1976 by an I.M. Pei-designed penthouse. I'll refrain from passing judgement, although Wikipedia says architectural critic James Howard Kunstler labeled it his "Eyesore of the Month" in July of 2011.

I saw references to a Sunshine Bakery in Augusta earlier today but had convinced myself that those were 1956 Arkansas plates and focused my (fruitless) research in the wrong place. They are actually 1951 Georgia license plates.

Thanks for solving the mystery, LTL!

Chuck said...

Sorry - didn't mean to leave Kathy! out, but I hadn't seen her comment while I was writing mine. Good work both of you! :-)

Kathy! said...

Ah, great minds, LTL! Here's a postcard from around that time showing a closer view of further down the street:

Anonymous said...

Chuck, thanks for confirming the Blaisdell Center, the lava rock sign pedestal, vegetation and the old Hawaii license plates are strong clues.

Google street view angle (that I checked, at least) seemed to show the domed roof with more "pleats" in it than today's pic, hence my indecision.

I've walked around this building but never gone inside. It has a big free parking lot and is a short walk to the Honolulu Museum of Art, which I highly recommend. Good spots for coffee and lunch on Kapiolani Blvd also.


Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I like those kinds of photos too, in fact I like it when the landscape looks like that in real life!

JB, I’m sure photo #1 was taken for the very reason that the lighting was “magical”. I only wish it was a tiny bit sharper, but that’s what you get with 60 year-old photos. So many of the legible signs are for businesses that would be round everywhere, such as the Sherwin Williams sign. Interesting thought about Joseph Smith, I would have never thought of that. Somehow it looks more like a war memorial to me, but I did a search for those and came up with nothing. The palm trees in photo #2 certainly point to somewhere warm, or even tropical, but obviously that did not help me at all. Dead pigeons: when I was a kid in Virginia, there was a park across from where we lived where they did poison pigeons, dead birds were everywhere. It was traumatic!

Mike Cozart, thank you for the info about Horton Plaza! I was so wrapped up in detective work that I didn’t even consider WHO the plaza was named after. As for all of the dark and shady shenanigans, something tells me that many towns and cities around the country have similar events in their histories. Thanks again Mike.

Mike Cozart, I have to admit I was wondering!

Melissa, I’m assuming you mean Mike’s Horton Plaza facts!

JG, yes, that first photo looks like many places that I have seen when driving through the middle of the country. I’m trying to remember if we had Texaco gas stations in California, I guess we did? Not that I think that photo is California, just an idle thought. I’m unfamiliar with the Blaisdell Center, or pretty much anything in Hawaii, but those palm trees sure look Hawaii-ish. But you say that the two buildings don’t match? Pickled eggs… never had one, but the idea makes me a little green. Maybe they’re delicious.

Chuck, Oh! Thank you! And look, JG was right! Part of the reason I would have rejected Hawaii as a location is that (from what I’ve read), Jerry Lewis wanted as many celebrities as possible to drop by his telethon, which is why they were in Los Angeles or Las Vegas. Fascinating! GO TEAM!

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, oh yeah I forgot to respond to JB about the “clock”, I was thinking that it was a thermometer too!

Dean Finder, I’ve never been to Kansas or Oklahoma, though I thought that photo #1 could be from that area. You’re right, so many towns of that kind (that I’ve seen elsewhere) often look pretty sad these days.

LTL, I saw the Sunshine Bakery, but just assumed that there were several, if not many of those around the country. But Augusta, Georgia is intriguing!

LTL, WHOA, it looks like we have a match! GENIUS! I can’t help feeling a bit lame that I did not follow the Sunshine Bakery clue, but you did it! Amazing!

Kathy!, I’m seeing that you commented at almost the same time as LTL, so you did great detective work too! Good grief, a “National Register of Historic Forms”, I guess I didn’t do enough detective work. Fantastic, and thanks to you and LTL!

LTL, a weblog about primates, ha ha! What kind of weirdo would have a blog like that? ;-)

LTL, yes, you and Kathy had a Vulcan mind meld.

Chuck, I was going to wait until I was done with responding to comments to see what those structures are, so you saved me some Googling. I can’t remember if the Augusta Confederate Monument came up in my search for Civil War monuments, but I think it did. I just didn’t think it matched! Oh well. And thanks for the info about the 1951 Georgia license plates, I love being able to more accurately know the date of the photo. Awesome!

Chuck, I’m sure Kathy understands!

Kathy!, very cool, especially since I love old postcards.

JG, your spidey senses were right on, you just didn’t know it! I see how you might not think that my photo matched, but again, your instincts were spot-on.

JB said...

Wow, JG and Chuck nailed it! (Now what about photo #1, huh? HUH?) :-p

Nanook, "Probably because that's a thermometer... That "one" is actually a "0"."
Thanks a lot, Nanook. Now I feel stupid..... Well, stupider. ;-)

LTL and Kathy!, photo #1 mystery solved!
And thanks again to Chuck and Kathy! for doing the legwork!

I'm so glad my location guesses turned out to be so accurate today! (sarcasm) ;-)

Major, poisoning the pigeons sounds like it would end in disaster! Wouldn't other birds eat the poison? Wouldn't hawks and cats, etc. eat the poisoned birds? And on up the food chain. Why, before you know it, an old lady will swallow a fly! I don't know why she would swallow a fly, but perhaps she'll die!
"I forgot to respond to JB about the “clock”, I was thinking that it was a thermometer too!"
Oh, that's it, rub salt into my open wound. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Talk about crowdsourcing those pictures! Good work!! The GDB clan can really tackle the difficult questions! KS

Chuck said...

The commentary above on the last photo brings this to mind.

Major Pepperidge said...

JB, I am impressed if the Junior Gorillas can get ANY of these mystery photos! I feel like I need to go through my stash of random slides and let people figure it out, because I think that it’s fun for folks! Hey, my guesses were not exactly close either, so I can’t throw stones. I’m sure that other animals wound up getting poison in their systems, it will work its way up the food chain. I’m glad they seem to have stopped that practice. I must have been three or four years old, and it really freaked me out to see so many dead birds everywhere.

KS, it was awesome!

Chuck, I grew up with a dad who loved Tom Lehrer, so we listened to three of his albums OFTEN. Every time I hear that song I think of my childhood experience.