1986 vs. 2015. San Jose, CA. Standing on the north sidewalk of E. Santa Clara Street between Third and Fourth streets, looking northeast. The 1986 photo shows a group of people participating in an organized march called Y-Walk, one of two annual events created by YWCA Executive Director Faith Rein and President Sarah Janigian to raise public awareness and money for YWCA programs. (The other event was TWIN – Tribute to Women and Industry.) I didn’t attempt to capture a perfect rephotograph for this 1986 photo because: (1) the trees obscured the high-rise (which still exists today) in the background, and (2) I wanted to show the new city hall on the right edge of the 2015 photo. The city hall is relatively new; construction started in 2002 until the doors officially opened in October 2005. The gas station is Chevron – then and now. Some of the street poles look identical in both photos. Note the dark iron pole at the entrance driveway to the gas station. Also, note the price of gas in 1986.
1956 vs. 2015. San Jose, CA. Standing on the north side of Stevens Creek Boulevard, near Bascom Avenue, looking west. Stevens Creek Blvd becomes San Carlos Street on the other side of Bascom Ave. Except for new businesses, mostly auto-related, not much has changed in this stretch of road in San Jose. The city planted a row of palm trees along the median to beautify this otherwise industrial area – as it has done in other parts of the city. My point of reference was the “Yes on 4″ billboard on top of a building at the corner of Stevens Creek and Bradley Ave in the 1956 photo. That billboard and building are still there, along with the warehouse-like building closer to the camera on the same intersection. The carousel below the Holly Sugar billboard was part of “Kiddie City,” a children’s amusement park where patrons could enjoy the carousel, boat rides, airplane rides, and the like. It is now Midas of San Jose.
Here are our re photographic images. Charlotte and I decided to collaborate and do our postcards, since they are so similar. However, they’re different. Because we’re different.
My photo entitled “Young women sitting at a cafe terrace, circa 1925” depicts two women enjoying what seems to be coffee or tea, outside a typical Parisian cafe. Seeing this image, I wanted to re create it because it reminded me of the current moment I was in, Charlotte and I walking around Paris.
We decided on certain aesthetics to show our personalities. I am very old fashioned and traditional when it comes to my work. I have a certain formula that I cannot seem to break. So I wanted mine to be in black and white like the original photo and pose with minimal differences. Charlotte is very out of the box and not afraid to uncover new areas. That is why hers is in color and follows a more modern approach.
We both helped each other do this, and It was a really rewarding experience.
Unlike the perfection that makes Sarah’s image, I decided to recreate my photograph using irony. The image titled ‘Women redoing their make-up in a public garden 1930’ looks extremely Parisian and almost romantic. One of the first things that I noticed about the image was the circular hat boxes. I got to thinking about how lovely it must have been to have your purchase so beautifully protected. I then thought about how worry free they seemed, how up to date their garments were, how easy and beautiful their lives seemed. It gave me a romanticized idea of what Paris used to be like. I then decided to create my own updated version of the post card titled, 'Women checking their iphones in a public garden with free wifi 2014.’ In my photograph you will see that the beautiful hat boxes have been replaced with H&M plastic bags and the mirrors and lipstick have been replaced with iphones and Starbucks coffee. I also wanted to include the sunglasses to keep things current. The garden that I chose to shoot this in was actually a wifi destination of Paris, which I didn’t realize until afterwards, but it really ties everything together.
2007 vs. 2015. Sunnyvale, CA. California currently suffers from one of the most severe droughts in its history – and it’s been going on for the past five years. Among the residents, especially here in the South Bay, there’s constant talk of water conservation. “Brown is the new green” is the policy adopted by more and more homeowners for their front lawns. People are stripping their grassy lawns in favor of full-on bark, rock gardens, and drought-tolerant native plants. It wasn’t always like this. In the winter months up until 2009, it was common for the Bay Area to be pummeled by pouring rain and powerful wind gusts during the three-month period from December to February. Towns in Napa Valley and Sonoma County, especially those near Russian River, are constantly on high alert for flash floods. I remember back in 1996 and 1998 when even the South Bay suffered through some flooding. Of course, it wasn’t the epic disastrous kind that folks in Louisiana, Georgia, and Florida suffer from on an annual basis. For example, the canals in Sunnyvale are usually dry and water levels are only a few inches during the worst rainy days. But in February 1998 and December 2007, water levels were at bank level. See the 2007 photo of one of the canals on Rembrandt Drive and the same canal today (2015). (Note: Although the two photos are of the same canal, they were not taken from the same location.) I know canals are built to divert water away from city streets to prevent flooding, but there’s nothing more soothing and tranquil than seeing water – however little – flowing along a channel, whether that’s a creek, a river, or a man-made canal.
While we were in Paris, one of our assignments was to rephotograph a famous image shot in Paris. I chose to do this one by Erwin Blumenfeld because I thought it was gorgeous. It was the definition of my premonition of Paris, beautiful, glamorous, and free. Paris is like that, but in the beginning of the trip I was so overwhelmed by tourists that I couldn’t see that at first.
I chose to recreate the opposite of this image because the second and third days were the opposite of what I expected. I was overwhelmed by tourists, stress, exhaustion and heat. It didn’t seem as free as I thought it would be.
Of course, after I made this image, my view changed. I was able to find the beauty in it, the quiet moments that make Paris what it is.
1957 vs. 2015. Mountain View, CA. Standing on the northeast corner of the Castro-Dana intersection, looking southeast. The 1957 photo shows a street scene of a typical day in downtown Mountain View. The corner market, Starwood’s, has gone out of business, like many other businesses of that era. Today, it’s a occupied by Crepevine, a restaurant. Just a quick scan down the street, you’ll notice makeovers – mostly the facades – of various buildings. In some cases, entire buildings were demolished. Such was the case for the twelve-story Mountain Bay Plaza, which has dominated the downtown Mountain View skyline since 1981.
1955 vs. 2015. San Jose, CA. Standing near the intersection of Park Avenue and S. Market Street at the Plaza de César Chávez, looking east. The 1955 photo shows the Old San Jose City Hall a few years before demolition. According to the San Jose Public Library, the Old City Hall was vacated in 1956 when the new City Hall at the Civic Center was completed. The Old City Hall was finally demolished in June 1958. The building housed city offices and the police department used the basement. After the building was demolished in June 1958, the city converted the grounds into a street which connected both sides of S. Market Street through the oval plaza. The city hall eventually moved out of the Civic Center and, in October 2005, moved into a brand new building located on 4th Street and E. Santa Clara Street.
The exact location of the Old City Hall is dead center in the plaza oval – a wide open space with benches and a children’s water fountain where water shoots up from various spouts on the plaza grounds. The 2015 photo is somewhat misleading because it gives the impression that the multi-story Four Points by Sheraton Hotel building is situated where the Old City Hall stood. Actually, the hotel is on the other side of the plaza, separated by Market Street. Over the years, the open plaza has been used for a variety of temporary installations, exhibits, festivals, and carnivals. Here, in the December 2015 photo, a “Christmas in the Park” carnival is underway. When the holiday season ends, the carnival would be taken down and the entire plaza would return to its wide open space.
1890 vs. 2015. Mountain View, CA. Standing on the median on Castro Street and Evelyn Avenue, looking southwest (toward Castro Street). The 1890 photo shows some residents with their horse-drawn carriages. The left side shows the Neuroth Building, which no longer exists. At the time, Castro Street was becoming the hub of all social and commercial activity in the city of Mountain View. This was not always the case. When the city was first founded in the early 1800s, the hub was at the intersection of Grant Road and El Camino Real, where a stagecoach stop was established. Indeed, the primary purpose of the city in the 1800s was to serve as a stagecoach stop between San Francisco and San Jose. When the railroad tracks were laid, a train depot was erected 1.5 miles north at Castro Street and Evelyn Avenue (then known as Front Street). The transportation of people and cargo by train was gaining in popularity and with the train depot located on Castro Street, more businesses built their shops, stores, and offices nearby, thus starting the great shift in human traffic from the stagecoach stop at Grant/El Camino Real to Castro Street. Over the years, Mountain View has grown in size and population but Castro Street is still considered “downtown” and a destination.
1900 vs. 2015. San Jose, CA. Standing at the intersection of E. St. James Street and North 1st Street, looking south. The 1900 photo shows, from right to left, the San Jose Hall of Records, courthouse, and Hotel St. James. The courthouse is the only building that still stands. According to Lauren Miranda Gilbert and Bob Johnson in Images of America: San Jose’s Historic Downtown, the courthouse was designed by local architect Levi Goodrich and built in 1866 at a cost of a mere $200,000. It was used to lure the state legislature back to San Jose – ultimately successful. The building sported a 115-ft high dome which collapsed during a fire on May 18, 1931. The following year, the courthouse was rebuilt with an additional third floor – but no dome.
The Romanesque Revival-style Hall of Records, which was connected to the courthouse via a passageway, also suffered some damage during the 1931 fire. In 1962, it was demolished and, as the December 2015 photo shows, the lot has been left bare with some landscaping.
1920s vs. 2015. San Jose, CA. Standing on S. Market Street on the triangular island on the northwest section of Plaza de César Chávez, looking south-southeast. The exact date of the first photo showing San Jose’s Old City Hall (1889-1958) is unknown. However, we know the Old City Hall was demolished in 1958 and based on the type of dress worn by the women walking toward the steps, we can say that the photo is from the 1920s, possibly earlier. The exact location of Old City Hall was dead center in the plaza oval. Facing the front steps, the left portion of the building grounds is now occupied by a children’s water fountain where water shoots up from various spouts. According to the San Jose Public Library, the building housed city offices and the police department used the basement. After the building was demolished in June 1958, the city converted the grounds into a street which connected both sides of S. Market Street through the oval plaza. The statue in the foreground is of Dr. Henry D. Cogswell, a prohibitionist. It stood atop the drinking fountain he donated to the city. This statue no longer exists. Instead, the walkway has been mostly cleared. At the northwest edge of the plaza is a stage, shown in the foreground of the 2015 photo. The new city hall is located about five blocks north-northeast on 4th Street and E. Santa Clara Street.
1957 vs. 2015. Mountain View, CA. Standing on the southeast median at the intersection of El Camino Real and Castro Street, looking northwest. According to Chad Randl, writing on The Preservation and Reuse of Historic Gas Stations for the National Park Service, “Unless your tank is empty, gasoline stations rarely attract attention. Yet, for the past hundred years gas stations have occupied prime locations on main streets and suburban corners, on small town roads, and along early highways.” The Chevron gas station shown in the 1957 photo has been replaced by a multistory office complex. This type of transformation – gas station to office building – is uncommon. Usually, when a gas station goes out of business, it is replaced by another gas station or some sort of car-related business because of the minimal amount of necessary alterations to the building and the site. Another gas station would simply take advantage of the vast underground fuel tanks and piping infrastructure. Replacing it with an office building would require extensive gutting. In the past fifty years, however, the lure of the prime corner location has motivated many commercial interests unrelated to cars to take over those spots.