Post by nikkortorokkor on Jun 30, 2008 6:20:32 GMT -5
looking Sou-east down High Street, Christchurch from the intersection of Colombo, Hereford & High, ca1910.
This iconic image captures much that is Christchurch. Bicycles, tramlines, verandas and Victorian paste architecture. The Victorian Gothic shop on the apex of the corner still stands, largely unchanged, today, and is a well known camera shop and lab these days.
I use the Christchurch city Library's excellent archive in my academic research and since they have done a wonderful job of digitising part of their photographic collection, I thought that it is high time I posted the link here.
What a lovely collection of historic photographs, Michael, each one worth reams of description. I love them. I spent over an hour going through them and was struck by the similarity in building styles in the cities between NZ and the UK from Victorian times to the 1930s. I remember well corrugated iron verandas, usually painted green and white, still over many shop fronts in smaller UK towns in the 1930s, at least in the south.
I wonder if the photographers who took these pictures imagined they would be such valuable social history pictures 50 to 100 years after they were taken. I doubt it, much the same as we don't realise that today's 'ordinary' street scenes with pedestrians and traffic will be historic documents 100 years from now.
You don't see many street scene picture postcards now, they're all 'pretties', so I suppose it's up to us to take pictures and show future generations what their town was like in the early 21st century. Things change so much faster these days.
There's a fascinating website, but I can't find it at the moment, where a chap in the south London area has collected dozens of old pictures of the area, and gone round taking new pictures from the same viewpoints. How about that as an idea for an on-going project of where you live?
There's something about still photographs that makes them so different from cine pictures. Cine is wonderful for things like old aircraft, sports and street parades, but with everyday street scenes you can take your time looking at still pictures in detail whereas with a cine film the detail's gone before you can take it all in.
I'm constantly struck by the pioneers' sense of history and (perhaps I'm being unkind) their own important place in it.
Literary interest in New Zealand was intense in the nineteenth century, with a slew of travel books written by young English men and women who headed south out of concerns for their health or for more entrepreneurial reasons. Samuel Butler's collected letters A First Year in Canterbury Settlement might be the best known www.gutenberg.org/etext/3235 and Lady Barker's Station Life in New Zealand the best loved. ("Lady" - the title was somewhat dubious - Barker was not related to Dr A.C., but she was a remarkable woman and her book is a sometimes hilarious read). www.gutenberg.org/etext/6104
But all these stories and the related painting tradition centred on rural/pioneer themes, culminating in New Zealand Utopian literature in Britain and the Maoriland aesthetic in New Zealand.
It was left to photographers to record the more prosaic city scenes, & I think the did so wonderfully. Adding to the tradition was the illustrated weekly newspaper - I can think of 4 off the top of my head - which, as technical advances in photography & printing were made, began adding double page photo spreads around 1900.
The CCL staff also do a wonderful job, but they are under-resourced (they often do research in their spare time) and mistakes creep in. I'm fascinated by this image and by the caption:
Memorial Avenue, Christchurch [ca. 1958] "Burnside Road was upgraded to a four-lane highway and renamed Memorial Avenue in tribute to those who died in World War Two (1939-1945). When the reconstruction was complete, the Governor-General, Viscount Cobham (1909-1977), unveiled a plaque at the intersection of Greers Road and Memorial Avenue on 26 Nov. 1959. The plaque reads: "This avenue is dedicated to the memory of those men and women of the New Zealand armed forces who gave their lives in the Second World War". Memorial Avenue is ca. 4.3 km long and runs from Clyde Road to Russley Road and on to what was Harewood Airport where many who served in the war trained before going overseas. The road is still unsealed in this photograph. The large number of street lights was required because car lights were not very powerful"
Staunch defenders of the British motor industry will bridle at the slur! Of course, the picture was made with a tele lens, making the lamp posts appear much denser than they really were. I'd like to know what gear was used for this, it must have been quite a piece of kit in 1959 (since the plaque laid in '59 is clearly evident, the Ca1958 is a year out at least). The grain makes me suspect 35mm, but I'm only guessing.
For those who are good at maths, the mountains which seem to loom over the airport are, in fact, almost exactly 60 km away - the peak at the centre right is 1668 metres ASL and the photo was taken from about 35 metres ASL (the airport is 37 metres ASL). Quite some lens for '59.
The Avenue appears to be freshly sealed rather than still gravel.