Saturday, December 10, 2011

Disneyland: Steps In Time, Frontierland (2)

As a follow-up to my Dec. 1 post about Disneyland's Frontierland, here's another series of before-and-after images. This time, we're standing inside Frontierland, across from the Trading Post and the current site of the Shooting Gallery. The image above is a detail from a circa 1954 concept illustration by Disney artist Sam McKim. The entrance to Frontierland would be just to the right of this image.
The second image (above) shows the same location as it appeared just months after Disneyland opened, in December 1955. The perspective is slightly different, but you can see that everything was pretty much built as planned. Note that a Miniature Horse Corral is in roughly the same spot where the Shooting Gallery stands today. The corral lasted for only two years.
Today's final photo was taken this year. The Trading Post is still in place, but it now sells Disney cloisonne pins rather than Old West-themed souvenirs. What I'll call the "Entrance Fort" is still standing, but much of it is obscured behind those big trees. The desert landscaping in the foreground, while nicely done, doesn't really blend with the lush greenery nearby.

In the comments section of my previous post about Frontierland in the 1950s, someone wrote, "Times have changed, ... educated people no longer view the Old West with such golden-hued nostalgia, and people feel less connected with history in general."

I always appreciate comments, and this is no exception. But I must repectfully disagree with this one.

First of all, I don't think educated people in the 1950s viewed the Old West with "golden-hued nostalgia." People knew the westward expansion, like any large-scale human endeavor, was full of good and evil, hope and despair, fellowship and violence. And as in science fiction, these stories of human nature played out in a setting that was still dangerously unpredictable. People didn't find these stories interesting because they were about lollipops and sunshine. When it comes to fiction, only trouble is interesting.

Secondly, the fact that people now feel less connected with history just shows that damn few people are actually educated. Schools today often teach what to think rather than how to think. And when it comes to American history, that indoctrination is generally slanted toward the negatives. Even when I was in school, concepts like rugged individualists moving west to find freedom and opportunity got short shrift, while topics like political scandals or riots were given much more weight. And we've had many more years of political correctness pile up since then. I can only imagine how strong the anti-American vibe must run in social studies programs today. It's hard to get kids or adults excited about history that seems entirely negative.

Writing or teaching history requires a strong effort to check our biases at the door, and tell the good, the bad and the ugly. Or, as Phil Brigandi likes to say, it requires perspective. Sadly, many people seem to write history the way they write fiction, only focusing on all that interesting trouble.


Anonymous said...

I agree with your response Chris, +1!


CoxPilot said...

Well said Chris.

Connie Moreno said...

Third Mousekateer checking in. I agree with you COMPLETELY.

walterworld said...

Agree completely. Thanks Dave.