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  1. #1

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    August 10, 2007: Disneyland from Above in 1955 and 1960

    This week, I've added two historic aerial photographs of Disneyland and its surroundings, thanks to the Orange County Archives in Santa Ana, California.

    One is from July 15, 1955—just two days before the opening of Disneyland. The other is from June 1960. Be sure to click on the links for large versions of these images.


    What are your observations? What do you find interesting about these aerial photographs?

    Please discuss the images here.
    Werner Weiss
    Curator of Yesterland, featuring discontinued Disneyland attractions

  2. #2

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    Re: August 10, 2007: Disneyland from Above in 1955 and 1960

    Awesome! My mom was born right near disneyland in 1955... She loved the pics. It's amazing to see how empty it was in the surrounding areas. If only it was still like that.
    Also, it would be nice to have a pic from 2007 to compare. To see 1955 and present side by side would be very interesting to see.

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    Re: August 10, 2007: Disneyland from Above in 1955 and 1960

    What I found the most interesting is all the growth in the park of tree and other plants. It was much greener.

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    Re: August 10, 2007: Disneyland from Above in 1955 and 1960

    LOVE IT! I really enjoy compairing the two! Thanks Werner for also listing what we should be looking for
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    Re: August 10, 2007: Disneyland from Above in 1955 and 1960

    I am shocked by the number of orange groves around the park as late as 1960. I mean, that was just 19 years before I started visiting the park and only 25 years before my earliest memories of the park. In my mind the orange groves were a part of ancient history, it's almost like they never existed to me. But to find out that they hung around for a while, that's quite a surprise.

    I remember a dairy in Orange County I loved going to and the endless strawberry fields along the streets. Nowadays of course it's all condos and tract housing, Orange County's specialty. All in the name of "progress" I suppose. As if wiping out the wonderful smell of fresh strawberries in the summertime breeze and replacing it with asphalt and cheap (yet overpriced) buildings could be considered progress.

    Considering that we are talking about pictures from 1955, isn't this U2-level technology? I mean, it's almost as clear and aligned as today's Google Maps. It's interesting because if they had Google-Maps-level technology back in the 1950's, imagine what kind of satellite technology exists today. It's probably so powerful, you might actually see the point to putting Nemo in a Tomorrowland attraction. Sorry for the thin, off-topic and undisguised jab at Pixarification, but I thought it was an amusing way to end the post.

  6. #6

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    Re: August 10, 2007: Disneyland from Above in 1955 and 1960

    Fascinating images, Werner, many thanks for your efforts.

    I have a few questions about developments outside of the berm, and perhaps there are some experts on MiceChat that may know the answers.

    1: In the 1955 photo: On the east side West Street right above the north boundary of the park is a pencil square with a "X" drawn thru it. On the 1960 photo, this exact spot has been developed. Was this a gas station to service home-bound travelers?


    2: In the 1955 photo, what are the ovals on the West St. side of the parking lot? They look like race tracks. In the 1960 shot they are gone. Were strawberries replanted here to produce revenue since the land was still undeveloped?

    3: In 1960, we start to see the first motor-court motels going in along Katella in the SE corner. Was Disney unable to buy these parcels, which were then sold to outside developers?

    4: A suggestion: For your next project, how about long lost entry gates to Disneyland? When I was young, my family came into the park from the beach cities along surface streets, and used the Katella Gate as the parking lot entrance. As a matter of fact, I didn't even know there was a "Main" entrance on Harbor Blvd. until I was in my 20's and started driving there myself. Talk about surprised.

  7. #7

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    Re: August 10, 2007: Disneyland from Above in 1955 and 1960

    Great photos. My first visit was in 1967 as a very young child. I would love to see an aerial photo from around that period. Pirates added, HM show building constructed but not open yet. I have to think that the surrounding area changed quite a bit in that 7 years.

    Thanks for sharing the pictures!
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    Re: August 10, 2007: Disneyland from Above in 1955 and 1960

    Wow, great article, very enjoyable. Fun comparing the two. Good job.

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    Re: August 10, 2007: Disneyland from Above in 1955 and 1960

    The edges of the park also look a bit more "rounded out" in the South-East corner of the park.

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    Re: August 10, 2007: Disneyland from Above in 1955 and 1960

    Great thread! I found a similar photo taken from what appears to be between 1955 and 1960 (don't see any Matterhorn or Monorail yet) -

    http://content.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/kt6v19q4c0/hi-res

    Orange groves could still be found in Anaheim and other parts of Orange County into the late 1970s, but began disappearing rapidly in the 1980s and were pretty much completely gone by the early 1990s.

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    Re: August 10, 2007: Disneyland from Above in 1955 and 1960

    Good 'old' pictures. There used to be a Gulf gas station on the north-east corner of Katella and West Street (Disneyland Drive). I'm surprised it didn't show on these two photographs.
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    Re: August 10, 2007: Disneyland from Above in 1955 and 1960

    Truly fascinating stuff, Werner. Do you happen to have any other aerial shots from later dates? It would be fun to see how the park- and the area surrounding it- developed throughout the following decades. I particularly liked seeing the freeway interchange under construction in the 1955 photo. Not sure why that sort of thing intrigues me...

    The way the parking lot grew is astonishing. Either Walt hideously underestimated how much parking he would need on opening day in 1955, or he expanded the lot to allow for a huge attendance increase by the 1960 season. Weird how much of the area that would become the parking lot, and later DCA, was still covered with an orange grove.

    Again, thanks Werner. Good stuff.

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    Re: August 10, 2007: Disneyland from Above in 1955 and 1960

    I enjoyed the photos very much!

    My parents moved about a mile south of Disneyland in June 1955.
    I grew up roaming around this area.

    a few Insights to this time frame and into the mid 1960's

    1, You cannot see on the photo's, but on the South East corner of West street and Katella, there was an elementary school, the name of which escapes me.
    It was torn down in the early 1960's.

    2, My freinds and I used to play in those orange groves in and around Disneyland. They were full of rabbit and pheasent....even saw a deer in the late 50's. I will never forget the smell of Orange blossems in the morning.

    3. Just north of the Disney Hotel there was a heliport next to the golf driving range. After a couple of crashes, they closed the heliport.

    Thanks again for the photos!

    Big Bob

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    Re: August 10, 2007: Disneyland from Above in 1955 and 1960

    I enjoyed the photos very much!

    My parents moved about a mile south of Disneyland in June 1955.
    I grew up roaming around this area.

    a few Insights to this time frame and into the mid 1960's

    1, You cannot see on the photo's, but on the South East corner of West street and Katella, there was an elementary school, the name of which escapes me.
    It was torn down in the early 1960's.

    2, My freinds and I used to play in those orange groves in and around Disneyland. They were full of rabbit and pheasent....even saw a deer in the late 50's. I will never forget the smell of Orange blossems in the morning.

    3. Just north of the Disney Hotel there was a heliport next to the golf driving range. After a couple of crashes, they closed the heliport.

    Thanks again for the photos!

    Big Bob

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    Re: August 10, 2007: Disneyland from Above in 1955 and 1960

    Hey, any future updates with shots from 65, 70, 73, 75, 80, 83? :P

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