Lost New England Goes West: Santa Monica, California (2)

Another view looking north from the pier in Santa Monica, around 1910-1930. Image courtesy of the University of Southern California Libraries and the California Historical Society.

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The view in 2015:

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Like the view in the previous post, these two photos show some of the changes that have happened along the beach in Santa Monica over the years. The most prominent building in the first photo here is the Windermere Hotel, visible in the upper center of the photo. It was built in 1909 and was demolished in 1962 to build Pacific Plaza, the tall apartment building that stands on the site today. Just to the left of it in the 2015 view is the Georgian Hotel, which was built in 1933 by the owners of the Windermere, probably only a few years after the first photo was taken.

This post is the last in a series of photos that I took in California this past winter. Click here to see the other posts in the “Lost New England Goes West” series.

Lost New England Goes West: Santa Monica, California (1)

Looking north from the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, California, around 1905. Image courtesy of the University of Southern California Libraries and the California Historical Society.

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The view in 2015:

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These views shows Santa Monica looking north from the pier along the Palisades, the steep cliffs separating the city from the beach below. When the first photo was taken over a century ago, Santa Monica had already become a popular beach resort.. At the time, the area above the Palisades was still sparsely developed, but there were number of amenities along the beach, including a bath house that offered visitors the option of swimming in a heated indoor pool rather than the relatively cool ocean. The beach was crowded on this particular day in 1905, with the attire of the visitors reflecting the styles of the time, including men in dark suits and straw hats, women in long white dresses, and swimmers dressed in nearly full-body bathing suits.

Today, not much is left from the original photo except for the Palisades. Even the beach itself has been extensively altered and widened, and a large parking lot now sits on this spot. In the distance, hidden from view, the Pacific Coast Highway now runs along the bottom of the Palisades, beneath the modern hotels and condominium buildings that now line Ocean Avenue on the top of the cliffs.

This post is part of a series of photos that I took in California this past winter. Click here to see the other posts in the “Lost New England Goes West” series.

Lost New England Goes West: Pismo Beach, California

The view looking north along the shore at Pismo Beach, California, around 1906. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Panoramic Photographs Collection.

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Pismo Beach in 2015:

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I couldn’t perfectly recreate the first photo, since it was taken a thousand feet or so in the air, but the second photo shows roughly the same view from the ground. The 1906 photo was taken by George R. Lawrence, an early pioneer of aerial photography. He developed what he called a “captive airship,” which was a kite-supported camera that could take pictures up to 2,000 feet in the air, all while being controlled remotely from the ground. In many ways, Lawrence’s invention was an early version of a drone, and like modern-day drones, it was seen as a potential surveillance tool for the military. However, it was also commercially valuable, as demonstrated by Lawrence’s most famous photo, which was taken in the aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. He sold prints of this image for $125 each (over $3,000 today), earning around $15,000 from it, or close to $400,000 in 2016.

While he was in California, though, San Francisco wasn’t his only job. Hoping to promote tourism to their new resort, the El Pizmo Beach Company hired Lawrence to photograph Pismo Beach, especially their El Pizmo Inn in the lower right of the photo. The inn included the “Tent City,” which consisted of several block of tents that measured 14 feet by 18 feet and could be rented for $6 per week. Entertainment at the resort included the dance pavilion, which is the building in the lower center of the photo with the cylindrical-shaped roof.

In the 109 years between the two photographs, not much is left from the original image. The hills in the distance have not changed much,but Pismo Beach itself has become the resort city that the 1906 owners of the El Pismo Beach Company probably hoped it would be. In the years after the aerial photo was taken, the tent city continued to grow, attracting many visitors from San Francisco who sought warmer temperatures in the southern part of the state. By the early 1930s, most of the tents were replaced with more permanent cottages, and the dance pavilion burned down in 1945. There are few landmarks left to identify the original image, although, as a point of reference, the pier in the distance on the left side of the 2015 photo is at about the same spot where the dance pavilion once stood.

This post is part of a series of photos that I took in California this past winter. Click here to see the other posts in the “Lost New England Goes West” series.

Weirs Beach, NH

The shoreline of Lake Winnipesaukee at Weirs Beach, around 1906. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The beach in 2015:

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Both of these photos were taken from Endicott Rock, a state park that features a beach and a rock that dates back to possibly the earliest European explorers to reach Lake Winnipesaukee.  When Massachusetts was first colonized, their charter defined the colony’s boundaries based on two largely unexplored rivers: the Charles, and the Merrimack.  The colony would have control over all of the land from three miles south of the southernmost bend of the Charles River, to three miles north of the northernmost bend of the Merrimack River.  Both of these rivers flow roughly southwest to northeast in present-day Massachusetts, and for the southern end this was pretty straightforward; the Charles River’s southernmost bend is in the town of Bellingham, and the current southern border of Massachusetts is roughly based on that location.

For the northern border, however, things became a little more complicated.  As it turned out, the Merrimack River does not flow primarily west to east; just to the west of Lowell it makes a sharp turn to the north, and continues almost due north, well into New Hampshire.  In 1652, Massachusetts governor John Endicott sent a group of explorers to find the source of the river.  They reached the waters of Lake Winnipesaukee here at present-day Weirs Beach, and determined it to be the headwaters of the Merrimack River.  They calculated the latitude to be 43 degrees 40′ 12″ north (which was, impressively, off by only about 4.5 miles), and carved the date, the initials of Governor Endicott, and the initials of the rest of the surveyors into a rock along the water, declaring all of the land south of that line of latitude and west of the Merrimack River to be part of Massachusetts.

Although this was an apparent windfall for Massachusetts, it caused controversy between them and New Hampshire, as this border would have given Massachusetts a sizable chunk of present-day New Hampshire.  In fact, though, the actual source of the Merrimack River is much further north, at the headwaters of the Pemigewasset River at Franconia Notch, which means if the original charter was still in effect today, New Hampshire’s iconic Old Man of the Mountain would have been in Massachusetts.  However, since neither Franconia Notch nor Lake Winnipesaukee would have been reasonable boundary locations, given the intent of the original charter, the border dispute was settled in 1740 by King George II, who declared that the border would run three miles north of the Merrimack River until Pawtucket Falls (present-day Lowell), and then a straight line to the Massachusetts-New York border.

In the ensuing years, Endicott Rock lapsed into obscurity, until it was rediscovered in the first half of the 19th century.  An enclosed structure was later built around it, and today it can still be viewed at Weirs Beach, although it is not visible in these two photos here; they were taken right near the rock, but facing away from it.  Much of Weirs Beach has changed over the years, including the beach itself, which is now much wider and sandier than in 1906.  The area saw several devastating fires over the years, including one that destroyed the S.S. Mount Washington, seen steaming away from the dock on the right-hand side.  However, the Mount Washington‘s successor can be seen in the 2015 photo, docked in the right center area, and many of the historic Veterans’ Association buildings along Lakeside Avenue survive today.

Long Sands Beach, York, Maine

The view of Long Sands Beach in York, Maine, between 1900 and 1910. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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In 2011:

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The landscape hasn’t changed much – not many of the present-day buildings are readily identifiable in the early 20th century photo, but in either case the style of buildings hasn’t changed much in the past 100 years.  A few buildings that definitely do still exist are the cottages on the bluff on the far right hand side of the old photo.  Although this area is outside the frame of the 2011 photo, other photos of the area show that those buildings are still there.

Cape Neddick, York, Maine

The view of Cape Neddick from Long Sands Beach in York, Maine, between 1890 and 1910. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The same view in 2011:

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In the past 100 years, Cape Neddick went from being almost deserted, to being covered with vacation homes.  The only readily-identifiable structure in both photos is the Cape Neddick “Nubble” Lighthouse, located at the end of the peninsula on a small, rocky island known as the Nubble.  However, with close examination, at least one of the cottages from the old photograph still exists – the one with the tower in the center of the roof on the far-left side of the photo.