“Streets flooded. Please advise.” ― Robert Benchley (American humorist)
Piazza San Marco as seen in the mid to late 1960s.
In a quote attributed to Napoleon, St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco) is referred to as “the drawing room of Europe.” Though the impressive origin of this quote is unsubstantiated, it is reflective of the significance placed upon Venice’s principal public square—known to locals simply as “the Piazza.”
Bridge of Sighs, Venice – 1966/67
“I stood in Venice, on the Bridge of Sighs; A palace and a prison on each hand; I saw from out the wave of her structure’s rise As from the stroke of the enchanter’s wand: A thousand years their cloudy wings expand Around me, and a dying Glory smiles O’er the far times, when many a subject land Look’d to the winged Lion’s marble pines, Where Venice sat in state, throned on her hundred isles.” –Lord Byron, Childe Harold (canto IV, st. 1)
“Venice appeared to me as in a recurring dream, a place once visited and now fixed in memory like images on a photographer’s plates so that my return was akin to turning the leaves of a portfolio: a scene of the gondolas moored by the railway station; the Grand Canal in twilight; the Rialto bridge; the Piazza San Marco; the shimmering, rippling wonderland…” ― Gary Inbinder, The Flower to the Painter
The photos on the left were taken by my parents in the mid-1960s; the ones on the right were taken during our trip to Venice in 2011.
I fell in love with Venice the moment I emerged from the Santa Lucia Train Station, descended into the richly polished belly of a water taxi, and began gliding along the Grand Canal. That romance continues to this day. To say that Venice is unlike any other city is an understatement of the obvious. Aside from its unique watery geography, Venice is notable as a relic of its own past. It serves as a tangible reminder of an empire that, for all intents and purposes, dominated the world for four centuries. Even as Venetians today battle to stave off the insidious, creeping effects of rot and decay, the majesty and splendor of the city’s architecture and artwork, and the richness and relevance of its history set Venice apart and make it one of the most fascinating places on earth–a true wonderland. I am amazed at how little Venice has changed over the years–as evidenced by the photos above. Other than the inevitable variations in clothing style and photographic quality, there is so little difference in the two sets of pictures that they could have been taken mere days or weeks apart–instead of forty years!
Things looked a bit different back in the day! This photograph shows Front Street (a part of Jefferson Highway) in Natchitoches, Louisiana. In view is People’s Bank and McClung Drugstore.
Photo source: Cammie G. Henry Research Center (Watson Library, Northwestern State University, Natchitoches, Louisiana)