An iron lamp post in Fort Collins, Colorado as it appears today.
The Train Station in Marceline, Missouri
around the turn in the century.
The Train Station in New Orleans Square in Disneyland. (originally Frontierland Station) and on Main Street. (see inset)
A street clock in Marceline, Missouri .
What inspired Main Street USA? Marcelline, Missouri or Fort Collins, Colorado?
During early planning stages for Disneyland, Walt Disney asked Disney set designer, Harper Goff to start designing the "look" of Disneyland. Walt wanted a hometown feel to his Main Street area, thus setting the tone for his entire park. Walt remembered his early days growing up in Marceline, Missouri and wanted that sort of a feel for it; however he had hired a man who grew up in a small town too. That town was Fort Collins, Colorado.
Ralph Harper Goff was born on March 16, 1911 in Fort Collins, Colorado. His father, Ralph Algine Goff owned the local newspaper, the Fort Collins Express Courier. He later moved to Santa Ana and attended Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles, California. For many years, he worked as an illustrator for Colliers Magazine, Esquire and National Geographic Magazine. During World War II, he was asked by the US Army to develop camouflage paint color schemes and was later transferred to the US Navy to develop ways of changing ship silhouettes to confuse the enemy.
After the war, he began working at Warner Brothers Studios working on film such as Sargeant York, Charge of the Light Brigade and Captain Blood. 1951 Goff was in London and stopped at a Hobby Shoppe to purchase an antique steam engine. Also there to purchase the same engine was Walt Disney. The two shared a love of miniature trains and Goff was soon working at Walt Disney Studios.
One of his first assignments was to design a layout and sets for a new theme park Walt was planning to build on some land across the street from his studio in Burbank. This new attraction was to be called Mickey Mouse Park. As we now know, this park was never built, but it prepared the team for the next big plan.... DISNEYLAND!
When Walt asked him to design Main Street USA, he wanted it to look like an average American main street at the turn of the century. Walt suggested his childhood hometown of Marceline, Missouri as an example, but Harper decided instead to use examples from his own birthplace in Fort Collins, Colorado. As well as designing the look of Main Street, he also designed the Jungle Cruise and the Golden Horseshoe Saloon [based on the set design of a recently produced movie called Calamity Jane.
Goff was a member of the Firehouse Five Plus Two playing banjo and went on to work on other movie projects for both the Walt Disney Studios and other studios as well. He was named a Disney Legend after he passed in 1993. Harper Goff passed away on March 3, 1993 in Palm Springs, California and is buried near his parents on Evergreen Cemetery in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Below are some pictures of a trip I took to Fort Collins, as well as pictures of Disneylandand Marceline in comparison.
The Train Station in Fort Collins, Colorado
as it appears today.
A street clock in Fort Collins, Colorado as it appears today.
What Inspired Disneyland's Main Street USA?
Marcelline, Missouri or Fort Collins, Colorado
One of the main streets of Fort Collins, Colorado as it appears today.
Disneyland's Emporium on Main Street USA
A turn of the century main street
in Marceline, Missouri.
One of the many buildings of Fort Collins, Colorado as it appears today.
An iron lamp post in Marceline, Missouri.
An iron lamp post on Main Street during the holiday season several years ago.
The brick sidewalks and rails at the train station in Marceline, Missouri around the turn in the century.
The horse drawn streetcars on Main Street. with the brick sidewalks behind and the trolley tracks in the foreground.
A street clock on Main Street USA
A Main Street Emporium in Marceline, Missouri
(real life now imitates art instead of the reverse.)
Main Street USA in Disneyland.
The brick streets and original trolley lines in Fort Collins, Colorado as it appears today.
Below are more pictures from Fort Collins, Colorado.
Judge for yourself how Harper Goff might have been inspired while designing Disneyland's Main Street USA
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