Historical Photos

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This page consists of old photos, postcards, & a few slideshows of Maracaibo, other oil camp cities around Lake Maracaibo & eastern Venezuela, & Caracas that have been found or contributed by former and present residents of Venezuela.

Seeing them allows us to compare these views with the way these landmarks may look today or, in some cases, record for history those areas that, due to changing time, circumstances, or politics, may no longer exist today.


Hotel del Lago postcard, and the message written on its flip side, taken and mailed in 1958. This photo was taken before the addition of the Salon Caroní at the front right of the hotel.

Now....compare this image of the hotel to the photos below it and see the striking difference that 50 years can make!

do admit to looking back somewhat nostalgically from time to time at the old layout of the hotel and its surroundings. But I suppose the only sure thing in life is change.




I found both of these recent images of the Hotel del Lago through photo links on Google Map. I'm really astounded by both of them and the changes that have taken place over the years that they show.

The first image is an amazing recent aerial view of the hotel that clearly shows the hotel grounds as well as the dramatic changes in the hotel surroundings. Two highrises immediately across from the hotel on Av. Milagro, where nice homes once used to stand, now look over the hotel grounds, with a third one going up between them. The Lago Mall beside the hotel to its north, where the Mene Grande camp used to be, occupies square footage at least as large as that of the hotel, if not larger. Also note the tennis courts to the south of the hotel, which I'm not sure if they are a part of the hotel or a part of Club Náutico. I could go on and on, but the photo speaks for itself.

I've left the enlargement link full-sized so that one can browse the image in detail. It's a far cry today compared to the past when the hotel unquestionably dominated the area around it for so many years, when it was the center of most major Maracaibo events. If it was held at the Hotel del Lago, one knew it was big.

The over-exposed photo below it shows that they've apparently converted the Salon Caroní into a casino (!) - the Casino del Lago. That too is a far cry from the days when the room was used for some of our larger junior & senior high school proms & parties and the plays put on by the Maracaibo Players.




This is a photo of the Pan American harbor and elegant passenger terminal on Lake Maracaibo taken in the early 1930's, when Pan Am was still using its flying boats.


This Hotel del Lago brochure was produced in 1962. This is the Hotel del Lago exactly as I remember it, before the advent of the multi-story “big tower” with the additional rooms, the extension of area where the old restaurant was previously located for the addition of new meeting rooms (which eliminated the old swimming pool shown in this brochure, which had the underwater windows in the basement), and the incorporation of the new, considerably larger swimming pool.

The aerial photo shown really lays out the whole area of the hotel as it was back then really nicely.




This postcard, sent from Maracaibo to Germany, is postmarked June 24, 1908. It translates from German as follows:

Dear Ms Buchwald! I send you kind greetings from a long distance. I would have enjoyed telling you farewell, however you weren't present.

It is very nice in Maracaibo, only very warm. Hopefully you feel quite good and also my loves. I intend to stay here for 2 years. Again yours sincerely, y
our Anna Pabst.

Below these two postcard images you'll find another one. The scene in this postcard, in color this time, is taken from almost exactly the same spot, but this time reportedly in the 1920's. Doesn't look like much has changed except for a new streetlight and what appear to be telephone poles, so the street appears to have been electrified & perhaps “telephonized” in the interim between the two postcard photos.


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I'd been told that the following photo dated to about 1908 and that it was the 10th photo in a series of images of Maracaibo (the whereabouts of the other [at least] 9 images is unknown). As one can see, it's an old tram, and the image has been hand-colored although much of the coloring, except for the purple-red trolley, has faded over time. I had assumed that the tram might be electric-powered because of the street light that's visible.

However, in March of 2008, I found an excellent & informative website that fully describes the history of the tram system in Maracaibo. Entitled “
The Tramways of Maracaibo” by Allen Morrison, this same image was found in landscape format, which I've placed immediately below this one. It indicates that this photo was taken sometime before 1891, prior to the arrival of steam-powered and later, electric-powered trams.

This being the case, the tram in the photo was very likely of the type shown in the last image - the exact same kind of tram that was located on the grounds of the Hotel del Lago that we were all so familiar with.




This section is not just limited to images from Maracaibo, and this is a good example of that. All of them were taken in the 1920's.

Of these four (4) great panoramic photos, three (3) of them are of the La Salina camp. Two (2) show great views of some of the camp housing and the 3rd shows a photo of the pipe storage yard that was located there.

The 4th photo is a fabulous open-water port view of Maracaibo. Smoke from the stacks of the old coal-burning ships in movement are clearly visible as are a few sailed fishing boats as well.

I aquired these from a dealer. The enlargments you get when you click on them are full-sized at high resolution to allow you to see the images in greater detail.

Steve Sleightholm, being more familiar with the La Salina area than I am, has reviewed the photos & provided the descriptions.

This image of La Salina during the 1920's was taken from the road on the Lagoon side of the original La Salina Lago Petroleum Camp depicting the management family housing. It is at the south end of the camp. Notice the small building immediately to the left of the home in the foreground with side walks leading to it. It is a Laundry Building as back then the homes did not containing washing machines or built-in facilities for washing clothes..
This image shows the offices on the left side of the photo and the bachelor/worker family barracks style housing. This picture was taken from the Lake Shore side of the camp down near the docks.
This is an image of the pipe storage yard. You can see pipe used both for drilling and pipeline. In addition this area stores a large variety of supplies used in production. You can also see the rail tracks that are used to transport supplies to and from the docks. In the background to the right you can see the elevated water supply tank and the oil storage tanks. The Camp is to the far right out of the picture..
A wonderful 1920's open-water view of ships in the port of Maracaibo.


This postcard, probably taken sometime in the late early 1970's, shows three good views of Maracaibo, including a nice aerial shot of the Hotel del Lago. Also shown is the Plaza Baralt and a "general view" low oblique angle aerial shot.


These photos of Christ Church were taken by my father in early 1977. Even at that time, changes within the city were visible as witnessed by the tall high-rises around the church that appeared even then. I realize that this is called “progress”, but it's a bit of a shame the way the surroundings mar the original outline of the church against the horizon from the way it used to appear.

But the church still retains it's appealing & attractive lines. Four palm trees (of the six originally planted when the church was first built in the 1930's) on the property parallel to the street were still there back in the late '70's.

It would be nice to see how the church and the propety look today.

The real reason I wanted to post these photos, however, is because they show the interior of the church. I spent many hours in this church as we went to services every Sunday “sin falta”. At one time I was even an acolyte, and my father was the volunteer treasurer of the church for a number of years. We used to stay later by about an hour or so every Sunday after services had ended while my father tallied the day's offering.

I had always remembered the church as being larger, but I suppose that's a common phenomenon of memory. And I had forgotten about the image in the stained glass window in the front of the church behind the altar until I saw these photos again. It had been so familiar to me back then after spending so many hours looking at it during the sermons.



This is another postcard that shows the Hotel del Lago, taken in 1962. This was the hotel as I pretty much knew it when I lived in Maracaibo, before the pool was moved & the multi-story addition was added.

Below the postcard is the original full-color, uncropped brochure page photo from which the black-and-white postcard was taken.

The pool was considerably smaller than it is now, but it was always nicely maintained. They always had a great Sunday morning buffet brunch laid out in the open-air area under the large striped awning. We used to go there after church, stop at Sweeney's bookstore where my parents would get the Sunday Miami Herald & I'd pick up a copy of the latest MAD Magazine or other magazine. Usually we'd then go home, but often we'd go to the buffet, eat all the great food (and in those years, never gain weight!) and spend the rest of the day by the pool. I'd swim in the pool or even sometimes go down & swim in the lake - it wasn't polluted then as it is now. It was a wonderful place to spend a relaxing Sunday afternoon.

The Hotel del Lago, (Maracaibo) Western Venezuela's largest and most luxurious hotel, 250 air-conditioned rooms, situated on the banks of Lake Maracaibo”.


These two postcards show Avenida 5 de Julio in the El Paraíso area of Maracaibo. Judging from the cars, they were both taken in the late 1950's, and my guess is they were both taken at about the same time.

In the top image, Supermercado TODOS can be seen on the left with Sears Roebuck on the right. In the bottom image in the opposing view, Sears Roebuck is shown on the left with TODOS on the right in the background.



This absolutely wonderful photo of the Club Los Andes taken in 1958 was generously contributed by Tom Dickey. It's a great shot of the club in its early years and allows us to see what it looked like close to when it ended its life as a vessel & began its life as a club.

Tom's father was a geologist with CREOLE in Maracaibo between August 1958 & March 1970. They lived in the Creole Camp & Tom attended EBV for all of 7th & most of 8 grades.




Over the years, I've received numerous Powerpoint presentations through E-Mail that consist of numerous old vintage photo slideshows of Venezuela. Many of these are of the city of Caracas, but are interesting in that many of them show the city during progressive, more stable, and perhaps happier times, when Caracas was growing by leaps & bounds and construction was everywhere, fueled by petrolem revenues - times when Caracas and Venezuela were full of hope for the future. Others show photos of buildings that were new when the photo was taken but have since aged & have been torn down. Some show construction of the highways before they became over-crowded. And others just show interesting photos of the past.

There's at least one presentation that shows Venezuela as a whole, without a city focus, but the shots are beautiful indeed.

Those without Powerpoint can't view these presentations unless they were saved with the viewer built-in (and most weren't). Since buying Powerpoint isn't cheap if you don't already own it, I've converted them all to FLASH presentations so that they can be viewed with the Macromedia FLASH viewer that's available for free and can be downloaded as a browser plug-in. The conversions come with player controls along the bottom of each presentation which allows one to stop any photo at will for a closer view and then continue on with the automatic slideshow, or it even allows for manual progression instead of automatic progression through the slideshow if one prefers.

In any event, all of them have historical value, and so I'm presenting them here, all in one place. Please be patient to allow them time to load, particularly on slower connections.

AYER”: This slideshow shows scenes of Caracas during the 1920's through the 1950's - [5.9 MB].
CARACAS DE AYER ”: As the name suggests, this slideshow also consists of scenes of Caracas during the 1920's, '30's. & '40's - [9.2 MB].
CONOCIENDO VENEZUELA ”: The scenes in this slideshow are fairly current ones and show some of the beautiful views of Venezuela - [1.3 MB].
NUEVAS IMÁGENES ”: Popular entertainment figures of the early 1960's mixed with other photos of the times & earlier. And who could forget Renny Otolina & the Twins? - [4.6 MB].
HELICOIDE ”: This slideshow is about the construction of the Helicoide in Caracas - [5.7 MB].
VENEZUELA AÑOS 50's ”: The construction of Hotel Avila is the focus of this presentation - [3.1 MB].
TRATE DE RECORDAR ”: Try to remember where these scenes in Caracas used to be - [2.1 MB]. Advance the views in this one manually with the controls on the bottom.
LA MEMÓRIA”: This one is a memory game about old scenes in Caracas. I've left it in Powerpoint format to preserve the music - [1.6 MB]. Please give it enough time to download.


These vintage photographs of Maracaibo were very generously contributed by Pedro López, of Documentación ActivaInstituto de InvestigacionesFacultad de Arquitectura y DiseñoUniversidad del Zúlia, in Maracaibo. They're a priceless historical record of Maracaibo and some of it's architecture as many of us may have once remembered it.

It's reassuring to know that old images of this kind from Maracaibo's past are being saved & preserved at the Universidad del Zúlia. A special thanks to Pedro for allowing us to share these photos here.


Avenida 5 de Julio / SEARS, late 1950's judging from the autos - Jacqueline Alcal Collection.
Avenida 5 de Julio at the intersection of Avenida Bella Vista, 1959.
Cerveceria Regional, date unknown - Jacqueline Alcal Collection. I knew Mr. Fred Gerhardt who managed this brewery in the '60's, and our class took a tour of this building.
Edifício 5 de Julio on Avenida 5 de Julio, date unknown.  


Edifício Zúlia Motors on Avenida Bella Vista, late 1950's judging from the autos.




Petrolera” - Beautiful example of an oil-company- designed house on Avenida 3D. High ceilings & the vents visible above the windows maximize air cooling, as does the reflective metal roof. According to Pedro, this home still exists in a wonderfully preserved state thanks to the efforts of preservation groups (such as FUNDAPATRIMÓNIO) in Maracaibo today, and is one of the few remaining examples built by the oil companies at the beginning of the 20th Century in Maracaibo.
Christ Church - date unknown, but taken sometime in the 1930's judging from the autos. Christ Church was established in the mid-1920s by a group of British Shell Oil Co. employees. (Photo originally taken by the Kauffman family.)
Christ Church - date unknown. (Image originally provided by the Kauffman family.)


Creole Camp & Club taken in 1972.
(Click above for higher resolution enlargement)
Campo Delicias, 1950
Spectacular aerial view of the El Saladillo area of Maracaibo looking towards the Puente General Rafael Urdaneta bridge in the distant background. Date of the photo is 1962 - Pedro López Collection.
(Enlargement is large - high-speed connection is recommended)




These postcards are of the La Salina area and were part of a group of postcards I recently acquired. There was only one other postcard included in the group, and it's not shown here. This postcard was of the original EBV school building, and it's shown in the Doug Becker Historical Section (the 2nd photo).

Judging from that one EBV building postcard that was included in the group, the fact that the EBV building is marked with the name of the school and knowing the approximate age of the similar photo shown above it, and assuming that all postcards were acquired roughly during the same time period, I'd estimate the age of these postcards to have been produced sometime in the mid-to-late 1940's.

It's interesting to note that the backs of each postcard were printed in English rather than Spanish. I believe some conclusions can be made based on this curiosity. They're only guesses, of course, but my assumptions about these postcards are as follows:

• The postcard photos were likely taken by either a Creole Petroleum photographer or by a photographer under contract to Creole;
•  The postcards were probably printed in the United States and then shipped down to Venezuela to be sold. I say this because of the English printing on the back, the lack of a printed scene description, and the logo that appears above the “Place Stamp Here” box. My guess is that this is the printer's logo, “EKC”. The ending letter “C” probably stands for the English word “Company”. If this had been the logo of a Venezuelan printer, the letter “C” for the Spanish word “Compañia” would have likely appeared as the first letter of the logo rather than the last;
•  The majority of the intended buyers of these postcards would probably have been Creole employees or ex-pats of other foreign companies in the area around the time they were printed. I believe Creole might have produced these postcards for the benefit of its ex-pat employees to send to relatives back home and to friends so that they would have a better idea of what some of the sights in Venezuela looked like and what it was like to live in Venezuela during those years. They would have been sold from retail businesses in Venezuela, such as the Foto Ferrebús Rincón shop shown imprinted on the “postcard album” envelope in which these postcards were stored. That name (“Ferrebus Fot.”) also appears on the face of each postcard at a 45° angle on the bottom right of each face, written in white ink as was popular at that time. This means that the identifying descriptions of each postcard photo were added afterwards in Venezuela to properly identify each photo (as they're not identified on the back) and as a promotional item by the retail store that sold them.


View of edge of camp at La Salina & oil well.
View of the Lake in foreground & La Salina camp with oil wells in the background.
La Salina Club with dance floor area, clubhouse, & club restaurant.
View of La Salina pool.
Another angle view of the La Salina pool.
La Salina Clinic
Port view of La Salina with oil well platforms, loading/unloading area & tanker.
Sunset view of oil wells - Cabimas.
“Postcard album” envelope in which the postcards were kept. It's (very) slightly larger in size than the postcards that were kept in it. Opposite side had “La Salina” lighlty handwritten on it.
The backs of every postcard looked like this. Brown edges, which are glued on, are probably remnants of the way these photos were once attached in an album.


Three of these photographs of Maracaibo were taken during the 1920's, all having an “AZO” 1920's postcard stamp box on the reverse. The date for the photo of the Liceo Baralt is undetermined.
Liceo Baralt
Edifício “El Paraíso
Low oblique aerial photo of Maracaibo. In terms of today's skyline, it's interesting to note how low the skyline used to appear, with few buildings - except for the church on the horizon - over two stories.
A caimán placed on a fountain wall at Plaza Bolívar.




This is a photo that was recently discovered by Oster Bayne (see below for more information about Oster) that came from his father's collection. Taken in 1950, it's an aerial shot of the Maracaibo harbor with the CREOLE Marine Offices and jetty in the foreground at about the 4 to 5 o'clock position, and the city in the background.

It's one of those historically priceless photographs that has survived over half a century, and has fortunately been preserved by Oster's father to now be shared here by all of us.




This photo is an old postcard of the Hotel del Lago taken in 1958.

The photographer took the photo while standing in what were once open fields across from the hotel, well back from what appears to be a narrow Av. Milagro standing in front of the hotel - note the street light that's visible center-right, which is difficult to see.


Another old postcard of the Hotel del Lago. Judging from the size of the trees, which are pretty much similar in size to the previous postcard, as well as the cars, I'd guess that it was taken at roughly the same time - the mid to late 50's.

It's also interesting to note that, in both photos, the paint used on the word "Lago" seems to have been of poor quality because it appears to have stained the wall behind it and run all the way down the wall as it weathered. This was later corrected.


This is an early view of the Hotel del Lago shortly after it was built. The grass, which doesn't yet reach the lake shoreline, is spotty & clumpy, and the Club Náutico next door has yet to be built as the club it later became.
This is a view that looks south at the old main CREOLE office complex and the water tower behind it. Judging from the cars that can be seen, my guess is that this is a shot taken sometime after the mid-1940's (note the JEEP). This is a ground view of the building which is prominently seen here in an earlier aerial view. The 3rd floor had not yet been added to the building. I don't believe this building exists anymore, but if anyone knows differently, please correct me.


This is another view of the old CREOLE office complex taken from the upper floor of the building and looking due east towards the lake, visible in the far background. It was likely taken at about the same time as the photo on the left. Doug Becker has helped me identify some of the features. This shot provides a view of some of the buildings that surrounded the complex, including the garage on the right, the Geology Lab just to the left of and behind the garage, and the Bachelor Quarters on the left above the bus.


This is a photo of the trellis that used to exist over the shallow end of the Creole Club pool. It's difficult to date this photo as we know, from photos Doug Becker has provided to this website on this page, that this trellis existed as early as 1942 through at least 1951. So this photo could have been taken any time during this time period.

A curious thing about this shot is the pool water level - it almost appears that the pool was in the process of being filled when this photo was taken.


Many of us passed through Grano de Oro countless times during the years we lived there, yet seldom does one ever see a full-view photo of it. Seeing it was always exciting because it either meant that we were on our way home to the States on home leave, coming back from home leave, going somewhere else on vacation, or going to greet a friend or relative coming to visit that we hadn't seen in a long time.
Grano de Oro was finally closed when they opened the new La Chinita international airport, and the property was given to the Universidad de Zulia. Much has changed. The old terminal building is now the Facultad de Ciencias, and I understand that the area around the building appears to be considerably run down. The whole area around the old airport is now known as the "Sector Grano de Oro" neighborhood. How something so familiar & once so central to our lives - evocative of so may emotions for us - could change so dramatically or disappear so quickly is indeed sad.


This photo is a postcard shot of the old Grano de Oro international airport taken sometime in the early 1950's, judging from the cars in the photo.

The area below the terrace is where we all used to wait for inbound passengers. We could see them through the glass as they went through immigration & customs, and it was always a lot of fun to see who else came in on the same flight the person you were waiting for flew in on. It was always particularly exciting around Christmas time when everyone would fly back to Maracaibo for the holidays



This is another old postcard of Grano de Oro. The date of this postcard is unknown, but judging from the truck in the photo, my guess would be that it was taken sometime in the late '50's or early 60's. The airport looks pretty new in this photo.

Passengers used to debark into the midsection, and baggage used to go in to customs through the doors on the right. The restaurant & large open terrace that used to overlook the runways were below the control tower. It was really a nice & open terminal design for flying in that era. Flying today may be cheaper, but the ease, relaxation, & service of flying in the early '60's - when it was still something special - disappeared years ago & is something I'll miss forever.


This is a postcard of the airport that replaced the old Grano de Oro airport, called "La Chinita", named after the Virgen de Chiquinquirá. Located farther out of town, there's plenty of space for future expansion, which was the main problem facing Grano de Oro, and was the reason for the construction of this new airport.



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