Mykonos in 1950
What did Mykonos look like in the 1950s? Old Mykonos Outside the windmill of Pentaras a woman ties up her mule so she can walk to Chora to shop, Mykonos it wasn’t like what you are thinking today.
At the church of Saint Charalambos a local family of fishermen dry their nets. Today the entrance to the Xenia hotel is set into the wall on the left and the hillsides have been unmercifully covered with villas. The beach of Megali Ammos or Big Sand is in the distance.
At Spitalia above the stone laundry basin, a woman dries her laundry, either holding it by hand or putting stones on it to hold it in place from the Meltemi wind. The rock in front of Saint Anna’s beach is called Kolokitha which means pumpkin
Delivery of Water
Antonis Kousathanas makes a delivery of water in Chora. Before the introduction of these carts, water was delivered in pairs of buckets carried on each end of a pole that fit on a man’s shoulder.
Little Venice, a landmark of the island today, with three young fishermen at work. Nicknamed after the Italian city, the area lines the waterfront with rows of 18th century fishing houses with balconies, built directly over the water. Nowadays a walkway leads from Skarpa to the bars and restaurants of Little Venice, a popular tourist spot for viewing the sunset.
The ship was a regular visitor for Mykonos and was affectionately known as “Despinaki” which means “Little Despina”. It was owned by the Foustanos family. Deck Class was fine when the wind and seas were calm, but when the winds rose it was a very different scene as passengers tried to avoid the sea spray and find a solid hand hold.Tourism in Mykonos started to flourish in the early 1960s when it became the favorite shelter for the artists and later for the hippies. The archaeological site of Delos became a great attraction.
Saint Panteleimon Monastery
Michalis Rabias on the santouri. The young woman is Argyro Kypraiou. It appears they are dancing the kalamatianos, a popular folk dance. “Panigyria”, the religious festivals in Mykonos, are still among the most vibrant in the Aegean. Many of the customs and traditions of Mykonos have been preserved despite the massive tourism development.
Assimina Kousathana at her family manavis, or green grocer shop, in serious negotiation with a farmer. A few postcards hint at the beginning of a new era.
The twin church of Saint Barbara, (door on left behind the cypress tree), and Saint Fanourios, door on right. On the left behind the tree (now gone) is the chapel of Saint George and the Three Wells. Legend has it that if a girl offered a man water from the middle well he would ask her to marry him. The dress of the young women points to their coming from the countryside, perhaps with farm products for the market.
Chora to Marathi
Panagiotis Koukas climbs to his home on the old pathway from Chora to Marathi.The sea shimmers in the afternoon sun. On the left, on the right and in the background the dry stone walls are clearly visible. They are the traditional land dividers in the Greek countryside which were built without mortar to stop soil erosion and define property lines. Each island had its own wall building style. The hillside today is heavily built up and criss-crossed with a web of roads. In the distance, right across Mykonos, is the little island of Baos.
Dimitris Syrianos, the garbage collector in Chora in 1955.
Agios Ioannis Old Port
The 13-metre caique Agios Ioannis moored in the Old Port, tied stern to the quay and anchored at the bow. The angle of the boat reflects the prevailing summer winds. The caique was owned by the Samiotakis family and used to make the run from Mykonos to Ikaria and Samos. It was famous for having been the first caique from Mykonos with an engine.
An enterprising Mykonian, Konstantakis Zouganelis, had set up a generating plant, which was subsequently acquired by The Public Power Corporation. It provided lighting in some streets and a few houses until 10 pm. Only when a ship arrived late at night did the lights stay on and it created a festive atmosphere which drew people to the port. Until the late 1960s telephone service was available only at the Chora office of OTE, the national telephone company.
View of Chora
A view of Chora from the chapel of Saint Vassilis. On the bottom right is the Archaeological Museum and next to it is the chapel of The Rose that Never Withers, the Gryparis family church. The Old Port was one of the least protected harbors in the Aegean and was often severely damaged by storms.
Portrait of a Vanished Era
McCabe’s images make it easy to see why Mykonos became such a popular destination in such a short amount of time. His photos perfectly capture the natural beauty and traditional way of life on the island in 1955 and 1957, many of which were used for National Geographic.