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About the photos: Venice in 1959

The photos in this collection are images of a Venice that looks, well, just like Venice as we think it must always have looked. Closer inspection reveals that this is a very specific Venice: Venice 1959.

The background is fixed - unmistakably Venice. But this is Venice at a very precise moment in time, just before mass tourism, as we know it today. There is still room in the public spaces to expand, to breathe. Venice in Peril, and all the other many rescue agencies which have been set up to keep the city afloat, are nothing more than vague plans for the future.

The photos show a city which is a bit more crumbly than it is today. And the people in the foreground, the real subjects of these photos, look nothing like the people one sees today. No one is wearing Gap or Next, there are no luminous windcheaters or shell suits. People smoke, workmen drink water, or wine, not Coke, and the rather small crowds of tourists seem to be dressed for a stylish celebration.

These photos capture a particular moment in the life of the city, set against a seemingly eternal background. We know the place, we recognise the people - many of us can remember looking like that - but we can also see that it is a moment that is gone forever.

From time to time other photographs, by other photographers, will be offered on this site. At the moment there are photos of Prague, taken in 1972, and prints again are archive prints. More photos will be added over a period of time, so please check this site regularly.

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