Duke City, back in the day
The many faces of Albuquerque’s history are front and center in the book Albuquerque Museum Photo Archives Collection: Images in Silver (Museum of New Mexico Press), edited by Glenn Fye, who recently retired as the museum’s photo archivist. The book features 180 black-and-white photographs of long-gone scenes and people, including steam locomotives; the beautiful Alvarado Hotel; a snappily attired female gas-station attendant; a pair of cowboys on West Gold Avenue; workers in a 1930 print shop; and Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and other celebrities at the train station. On the cover is McDonald’s Restaurant at 209 West Central Avenue, ca. 1938, from the Milner Studio collection, courtesy Museum of New Mexico Press. All images in the story are courtesy Glenn Fye, Albuquerque Museum, and Museum of New Mexico.
Sorting through the Albuquerque Museum’s archive of about 130,000 photographs to choose 180 for a book was definitely a challenge. Glenn Fye, the institution’s recently retired photo archivist, has done an admirable job. Albuquerque Museum Photo Archives Collection: Images in Silver
Some of the book’s most memorable images come from the studio of Harry and Leta Brooks. Examples are Studio portrait of a Western guitarist wearing woolly chaps, ca. 1930 and Texaco gas station female attendant, ca. 1940. Photographs of Albuquerque cafés, shoe stores, the White Star Hand Laundry, the Alvarado Pool Room, and radiator and bicycle repair shops are among those in a treasure trove of glass plates that was acquired by Ray Bandel from an itinerant photographer in 1933. Fye believes the photographer spent time in Albuquerque in September and October of 1930, either passing through or trying to find a place to live, and earned $5 or $10 for each picture he took and then sold to the business owner. A selection of these images was presented in one of the atrium hallway shows that Fye curated at the museum. Brought to Light: A Great Depression-Era Photographer’s Study of Albuquerque Businesses was on display in 2007 and 2008.
Fye was the museum’s photo archivist starting in May 2006. “This is my first full week of retirement,” he said in a Nov. 30 interview. “I was there 11 years and seven months, and before that I worked in collections, but I’ve always worked in photography.” His personal adventures in photography began in 1966 in high school in California — he was born in Albuquerque but didn’t grow up in New Mexico. “I started surfing and I did surf photography. I lived a half block up from Windansea Beach in La Jolla, in San Diego County. I had a couple of big telephoto lenses and I’d run down to the beach and take pictures of guys and sell ‘em prints.” After high school, he worked in three camera stores, read books about fine-art photography, and did a little architectural photography in San Francisco. “Then my wife, Sandra, and I sold everything and split for Hawaii with the idea of starting school again.” He graduated from the University of Hawaii with a degree in art history; she finished at the University of New Mexico in geography (and has published Historic
and Historic Photos of El Paso). To write the opening essay of Images in Silver, Fye selected Byron A. Johnson, longtime former curator of history when the institution was known as the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History. Another, shorter essay at the end of the book was penned by
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