Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Vintage Monrovia Photos via the Monrovia City Corp.

Top image courtesy Cecil Darby via MCC.
Bottom images ©Ms. Aumuo Abdallah via Monrovia City Corp.

The Monrovia City Corporation has had a rather sharp-looking Wordpress site up and running for a few months now, promoting, among other things, the bold and often-controversial clean-up campaigning of Acting Mayor Mary Broh. A topic for another time, perhaps.

Another aspect of the site is that its administrator, Archel Bernard, has started a Photo of the Week series, in what is now one of multiple open calls for vintage photographs of Monrovia. I'm sure at some point this will be combined with the successful efforts of the Liberia '77 initiative, mentioned in some posts earlier this week, and which the MCC is aware of, as well as whatever this site continues to be able to uncover. Hopefully these all will eventually unify into a single, comprehensive collection of historic photography of Monrovia.

I also like how the webmaster not too subtly puts it: Hint: We don’t just want you and your family people.

As with many of the Liberia '77 submissions, and vintage photos of Liberia in general, dates and locations are understandably but unfortunately vague, which can make for a bit of fun sleuthing.

There are a few gems here, for certain: above is a selection of four of my favorites. Atop is unique perspective of Capitol Hill on a hazy afternoon of some year in the past, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at left, the Executive Mansion behind, the Temple of Justice at center background, shot from an angle that must be atop the landmark Pan African Plaza at 1st Street, Sinkor--currently known as the UNMIL headquarters.

Second is a serene visage of the Masonic Temple, its signature coal-and-gild globe atop its doily-white Greek revival mass, a concrete fence around its property, with the immaculately manicured drive of the Ducor Hotel sweeping past, on its way up Snapper Hill. A scene like this reminds me of a remark a Ghanaian friend once mentioned, how West Africans used to visit Monrovia and marvel at how pristine and modern it was.

The Third image is a familiar scene, as busses still line the Crown Hill end of Benson Street today, loading up for towns across or farther into the counties, although currently used American school buses are employed, not these sharp looking coaches. Next time I have an opportunity, I'll try to get a picture from the same angle for juxtaposition.

Fourth requires some verification-- I feel I recognize this structure, it must be either at Waterside or on Randall Street. I'll have to take a stroll around and place this specifically next chance I get. Perhaps my memory is failing, but I feel like this blue-tiled, block-long showroom still stands, although it likely sells auto parts or imported groceries nowadays, not the latest Philips hi-fi or Zenith color televisions. Note again the flawless macadam of the pavement, as well as those gorgeous vintage sedans.

Congrats to the MCC team for a nice-looking website that has solicited some fantastic photographs, which are reposted above with thanks.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for your candor. I enjoyed reading your interpretation as well as your photo descriptions. I'm too young to know all the points the pictures were taken from, so I learned a lot from your post!

MM Jones said...

I'm glad to be helpful--great website and great work! I hope this can all be combined into a unified effort to revitalize the country's historical and photographic records--having older generations help with the dates and locations, and younger generations learn about the country's past.

Keep up the good work!

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