Thursday, November 19, 2020

1950s Main Street: The Test Wall

This 1950’s shot of East Center Street at Disneyland shows a very interesting spot in the Park: the test wall. Zooming in, this little faux brick wall was apparently a test to see which type of brick would look best. It has also been suggested that this wall was not a test, but meant to be a transition into the never-constructed colonial area, “Liberty Street.”

This contemporary shot from 2008 shows the different types of “bricks” tested and also that this test lasted for quite some time. Anyone know if this wall still exists? On a Disneyland tour I took, I was told that Main Street was built with zero actual bricks; everything was done with paint as if it were a movie set.

This detailed view shows the window of Imagineer W. Dennis Cottrell as it originally looked:

…and how it looked in 2009 when I shot it:

W.H. Cottrell was the first president of the newly formed Walt Disney Imagineering when Disneyland opened. Better known as Bill or Uncle Bill, Cottrell headed the group from 1952-1964. Cottrell started as a camera operator for Walt Disney Studios. He directed the Evil Queen & Wicked Witch sequences in “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and wrote for “Pinocchio,” “The Three Caballeros,” “Alice in Wonderland,” and “Peter Pan.” 

See more Disneyland Main Street, U.S.A. photos at my main website.


Fifthrider said...

I loved that you even mentioned that other possibility of it not being a test brick wall. Back in 2013 I went on an all day tour with one of the plaids and they claimed it was the "test brick wall" as well, but that it had been painted over so that no one knew for sure. ( In short, it's an unconfirmed rumor. ) By contrast, some of the Disney history books I read ( the only kind of books I read, Jim Korkis, etc ) have recently conceded that this was just a transition wall to Edison Street. In most cases, the bricks aren't even bricks but simulated brickwork. If you were to sandblast it, you wouldn't find multiple different bricks under it all, just the same mortar.

Now let's all talk about the white elephant in the room, the dude without any sleeves. Fashionable, yes, but I've never seen anything like it in any vintage Disneyland pics.

Daveland said...

I almost mentioned that sleeveless shirt, but decided against it. So, I appreciate your comment very much! And...i found through the many tours I took at Disneyland that the tour guides are not always that reliable.

Stu29573 said...

Knowing absolutely nothing about this wall, I can state with all certainty that the "passage to Edison Square" version sounds the most plausible to me. The bricks seem to go from left to right, newer to older. Liberty Square in the Magic Kingdom uses a similar technique with their architecture. The farther south you go, the "newer" the buildings are until you get to the Wild West of Frontierland.

Rusty said...

Google has Street View images inside Disneyland Park, and the wall is still there as of August 2017. What a fascinating little piece of park history that still survives!

"Lou and Sue" said...

Dave, I really enjoyed this post...I never knew about that "test brick wall." Thanks, Rusty, for the link! I'll have to look for this wall, whenever Disneyland reopens.


Anonymous said...

I can't say if it was a test wall or not, yet I do recall being in the park early one morning and they were repainting the bricks! This would have been sometime in the last 10 years. (I live in NYC, yet I travel to Disneyland every year or two, for D23 Expo and other California trips.) I probably have a photo of the painting saved somewhere.