Thursday, October 23, 2014

Almeda Mall Vintage 1969 photos

The photo above was purchased earlier this year, in February, from the Houston Public Library. 

But I kept thinking about the others that I'd left on the light tray. 

These have only existed in negative form for decades -- the old square negatives before strips and 3x5 film came along, hidden away in HPL archives. To find them, I'd submitted search terms and these had come up, along with a few others marked "Almeda Mall". I pulled on the medical gloves and stared down into the little magnifying glass looking at negatives, reminding myself everything black would be white and visa versa. After I received the one above, so crisp and amazing in its detail, I decided I needed to invest in the others.

These were ordered originally by the Houston Post, requested by Department 322, which I can only guess was advertising. They were sending these over to the library right away, as you can see, because the "canary" copy is marked "To Library Attach to Negs." It was Tuesday February 11, 1969. (The other order some 7 years later will be featured on the blog as we near Christmas.)

Although the order says 4 shots, there were in fact a six in all, two duplicates of each end of the mall. Since I'd chosen the "Penney's" end last time, the only work to do was decide which of the two "Foley's" end shots I wanted. I finally went with the shot with the people. All females, no pants. It felt more alive than the empty hallway shot.

those nostalgic shafts of light

The other two were of the center fountain area:

The first, looking towards the Foley's hall is a bit off. You can just make out the lighted marquee type signs that graced each store in the mall's first years. I doubt it was ever used or printed.

(the object in the left foreground is a mystery to me)

But it's the last shot that turned out to be my favorite. Staring through the magnifying glass in inverted b/w all I knew was there was someone sitting on the bench. I was delighted to see the girl, looking like the epitome of 1969, just down from the ashcan, the circle lights and mannequin in the store to the right under the striped awning her only company. The water detail wasn't something I could see in the negative either. So, so perfect.

You can read more about the history of the mall in this post.

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