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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
postcard, sent from Maracaibo to Germany,
is postmarked June 24, 1908. It translates
from German as follows:
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, your
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.
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
However, in March of 2008, I found an excellent
& informative website that fully describes
the history of the tram system in Maracaibo.
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
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.
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
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.
Sleightholm, being more familiar with the
La Salina area than I am, has reviewed
the photos & provided the descriptions.
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..
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.
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..
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
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.
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.
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.
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 MiamiHerald & 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.
Hotel del Lago, (Maracaibo) Western Venezuela's
largest and most luxurious hotel, 250 air-conditioned
rooms, situated on the banks of Lake Maracaibo”.
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
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.
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.
at least one presentation that shows Venezuela
as a whole, without a city focus, but the
shots are beautiful indeed.
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.
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.
slideshow shows scenes of Caracas during the 1920's
through the 1950's - [5.9 MB].
AYER”: As the
name suggests, this slideshow also consists of scenes
of Caracas during the 1920's, '30's. & '40's - [9.2
scenes in this slideshow are fairly current ones and
show some of the beautiful views of Venezuela - [1.3
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
slideshow is about the construction of the Helicoide
- [5.7 MB].
construction of Hotel Avila is the focus of
- [3.1 MB].
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
one is a memory game about old scenes in Caracas. I've
left it in Powerpoint format to preserve the
- [1.6 MB]. Please give
it enough time to download.
vintage photographs of Maracaibo were very generously
contributed by Pedro López, of Documentación
Activa, Instituto de Investigaciones,
Facultad de Arquitectura y Diseño,
Universidad 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.
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
5 de Julio / SEARS, late 1950's judging from
the autos - Jacqueline Alcal Collection.
5 de Julio at the intersection of Avenida Bella
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.
5 de Julio on Avenida 5 de Julio, date
Motors on Avenida Bella Vista, late 1950's
judging from the autos.
- 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.
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.)
Church - date unknown. (Image originally
provided by the Kauffman family.)
Camp & Club taken in 1972.
above for higher resolution enlargement)
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
is large - high-speed connection is recommended)
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 HistoricalSection (the 2nd
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.
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 (“FerrebusFot.”) 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.
of edge of camp at La Salina & oil
of the Lake in foreground & La Salina
camp with oil wells in the background.
Salina Club with dance floor area, clubhouse,
& club restaurant.
of La Salina pool.
angle view of the La Salina pool.
view of La Salina with oil well platforms,
loading/unloading area & tanker.
view of oil wells - Cabimas.
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
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.
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
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.
caimán placed on a fountain wall at
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.