Thursday, September 16, 2010

Spence Air Photography in Air & Space

Yay! Another publication! 

The November 2010 issue of Air & Space Magazine features my article on Robert Spence and Spence Air Photos, complete with a 1921 oblique air photo of the Venice Pier. Not to steal their thunder, I'll add another of Robert Spence's pictures (he took over a hundred thousand, btw), this one from the Los Angeles Public Library collection. A 1939 photo of the Los Angeles Harbor looking south, with the Union Oil refinery in Wilmington in the foreground.

Spence began photographing Los Angeles from the air in 1919 and didn't stop till he retired in the early 1970s.

Of course, his collection--housed at UCLA's Geography Dept's Benjamin and Gladys Thomas Air Photo Archives--includes shots from other locales too: Disneyland as it was being built, the St. Francis Dam disaster a day after the dam collapsed, the "new" Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Hoover Dam (now Boulder Dam), and even (I think) some wartime shots taken over Burma during WWII. Fascinating legacy. He just hung out of the plane with a camera that weighed half as much as he did (at least in the early days) and shot!


Robert E. Bolvin said...

Robert E. Spence was my great-uncle, brother of my grandmother Harriet Ruth Spence. At my grandmother's funeral I was told he was an aerial photographer on the Western Front in World War 1. My uncle Robert (RES's nephew) was an Aviation Machinist Mate in World War 2, and I'm an aircraft mechanic also, carrying on a tradition of Roberts in our family in aviation. I tried to find more info on him, I was originally told he was my grandfather's brother, so I was on a wild goose chase for a while. Thank you for bringing this to my (and the public's) attention.

Vix said...

I had not heard about WWI service, but I know he was in WW2. Have you read the biography of RES in Kurt J. Spence's book, A Genealogical History of the Spence Family of Western PA? It was published in Doylestown PA.