Saturday, April 12, 2008


Here's an interesting combination of approaches to the production of a postcard image. Like many other postcards we've analyzed here on the gondolablog, the creators of this one took a monochrome photo and then added some colors. I think they did a pretty good job of capturing the water and sky. But then, as if four beautiful gondolas weren't enough, someone thought it wise to fill the air with four airplanes and two blimps! I could be wrong, but it sure looks like the aircraft were all drawn or "stamped" in after the fact.

This postcard commemorates the Sesqui-Centennial which took place in 1926 in Philadelphia, PA. This was a world's fair type of exposition which ran for six months, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It was much smaller in comparison to some of the more well-known expos in Chicago, St. Louis and other American cities. The Sesqui-Centennial was expected to attract 50 million visitors, but ended up with an overall attendance of only 10 million. Much of the blame was placed on rain, which fell on more than half of the days the grounds were open.

Very little is known about the gondolas at the Sesqui-Centennial. By looking at the postcard, one might assume that they were Venice-built. They certainly seemed to have the lines. There are four in the picture - one is obscured a bit by another on the right hand side.
Gondolas have been featured in expos and world's fairs consistently, but they did something rare in this shot - they loaded the boats with passengers. four or six passengers weren't enough, the trastolini and trasto de meso appear to have been removed to accommodate additional passengers, and at least one gondola appears to be carrying a dozen passengers. I haven't seen this practice many times, the most memorable images coming from Venice, California in the very early 1900's.

have no idea where the gondolas were prior to the expo in Philadelphia, but my guess is that they came from another expo. The folks in charge of the Sesqui-Centennial made newspaper headlines on several occasions for being cheap and having a budget that was cut, cut, and then cut again.

Maybe I sound like a broken record, but I'm probably just writing what you're already thinking: I wonder what became of those gondolas. We have a few gondolas in this country that are said to be over one-hundred years old.

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