Wednesday, 14 November 2012

....mostly Westward Ho!

Grand Central Terminal (NOT Station or Depot!) in New York is one of the great indoor spaces in Manhattan. Seen here in 1949 in a time exposure, it is still one of the main transport hubs in the city.

Here seen at an unidentified location, 4451 powers what looks to be the Afternoon Daylight along the Californian coast. 4451 has long been scrapped and 4449 is the only member of the class to be preserved and was retired from service in 1957. Restored in 1974-76 it has been largely operational since then, with its 15 year overhaul scheduled to start in 2013.

An unidentified location is seen here in a Kodachrome transparency. There are clues to the general location in the shot. The car dates it to the late 1930s/early 40s (I am not an expert on American automobiles, 1930s British are my thing!) The lack of ANY other traffic marks it as c1930/40s too (although that is not by any means a certainty as suburban streets such as this would be quiet most of the time). The palms suggest it is hot and the architecture of the houses again suggest a Spanish influence. The lake at the bottom of the road looks to be a reservoir, again suggesting a hot, dry climate. A best guess is California c1941

Although it is hot in the image above, it is not always so in California, the mountains can be treacherous. 

Donner Pass is one such place, named after a group of California bound emigrants who had to overwinter there in 1846 due to their route being blocked by snow, of the 45 survivors of the group (originally 81 strong) some resorted to cannibalism to survive. Bleak is probably the best way to describe the high Sierra Nevadas in the winter, and even as late as 1952 the train the City of San Francisco was slowed in a blizzard and eventually stuck in a snowdrift there for three days.

The Mountains are unforgiving as can be seen in the image of the car below. That is a brave driver!

After our American interlude we will travel back to Europe on the 1938 built Nieuw Amsterdam, of the Holland-America line seen here mid Atlantic in 1950.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

1939 -The World comes to New York

The 1939 World's Fair. Held at Flushing Meadows - Corona Park, which sounds idyllic but was actually the cleaned up Corona Ash Dump, New York's dumping ground for coal furnace ash, horse manure and garbage. This was the second biggest World's Fair ever held - only the 1904 St Louis Fair was bigger - and over the two seasons it was open 44 million people passed through the gates.

The British Pavilion is seen in the image above. Visited in June by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth it held exhibits such as the Magna Carta, the first time that it had left Britain. with the outbreak of WW2 it was deemed safer to keep it in the USA and it was stored at Fort Knox until 1947 alongside the Declaration of Independence.

The Fair celebrated the 150th anniversary of George Washington's first inauguration as President of the United States whilst looking forward to the future. In the distance in the image above can be seen the sixty feet high statue of George Washington which stood facing the future in the shape of the two symbols of the fair, the Trylon and the Perisphere.

But this was a fair for the masses and colour photography which had been available since 1907 in the form of Autochrome plates was now easily available with the introduction only four years previously of the iconic Kodachrome slide film. 

This was perhaps the first fair that the public photographed fairly extensively IN COLOUR. The Eastman Kodak exhibit had a background, painted by Salvador Dali, seen above and despite the perception today that colour photography was a product of the 1960s and 70s, colour photography was here to stay, even if prohibitively expensive - and that is why perhaps that it is seen as a recent invention. 

A roll of colour transparency film cost $5 - the equivalent of £50/$81 in today's currency! To put that into some context, the admission price for the Fair was 75 cents!!