Local artist snatches history from the jaws of oblivion

Mexico City early XX Century (Photo: G. Struck)

Several years ago, graphic artist Eduardo (“Lalo”) Struck Cano caught his uncle disposing of multiple wooden boxes containing what appeared to be glass slides.  When questioned, his uncle said that they were just some old photographs that were taking up room, and it was time to get rid of them.  The boxes had been passed down from Lalo’s grandfather, Gustavo Struck Alvarez, to his uncle who was about to condemn them to the dustbin.


Lalo soon discovered that they were in fact old photographs, in the same sense that the Palace of Versailles is a house in the country with some pictures on the wall.  What Lalo had stumbled upon was a treasure trove of historical photographs documenting life in the early 20th Century.  Not only were the more than 2000 glass slides carefully packed in custom-made boxes and meticulously catalogued, they were in fact stereoscopic slides, designed to be viewed through a special device that created a full 3D effect.


Each slide consisted of two images, and when viewed through the stereoscopic viewer, each eye would receive a slightly different image, thereby creating the 3D effect.


The slides covered a multitude of topics, capturing scenes mostly from Mexico and Europe.  Early auto races from 1915, the destruction of El Palacio de Hierro by fire in 1914, beer deliveries by horse and carriage in Mexico City, the Zocalo in Merida, and hundreds of others.

Mr. Gustavo Struck Alvarez
Mr. Gustavo Struck Alvarez
1920s auto
Mr. Gustavo Struck and family (1920)












But most impressive all was the fact that Lalo’s grandfather had created everything himself, at a time when photography involved bulky equipment, long exposures, and chemicals in a darkroom.  He captured two separate images of each scene, and then printed the images onto the glass slides, spaced correctly apart to create the 3D effect.  No doubt he cut the slides himself from a large sheet of glass, and then applied the emulsion that would allow him to print the images.  He made the storage boxes that kept the slides safe and free of dust, and catalogued each slide.

Auto racing in Mexico City, 1915. (Photo: G. Struck)
El Palacio de Hierro department store in Mexico City, after the 1914 fire. (Photo: G. Struck)
El Palacio de Hierro department store in Mexico City, after the 1914 fire. (Photo: G. Struck)

This collection has never been shown in public before, and can be viewed for the first time during Noche Blanca at Door54, the Café-Bistro-Gallery on the corner of Calle 35 and 54, just south of the CMA Hospital.  A few select images, printed on archival paper with archival inks, will be available for purchase.  Noche Blanca will be held on the evening of Saturday December 12, from 7:00 pm till 2:00 am Sunday morning.

By Nicholas Lavroff