Hugh R. McMillan (1916-2000) was a historian, journalist, dispatcher, and photographer in Newport Beach, California. He was also an avid fisherman and self-proclaimed "beach rat" who lived his entire life near the ocean. His photographs and writings about Newport Beach provide a unique perspective on the growing beach town in the 20th century.
This collection features nearly 1000 digitized negatives selected from about 3000 black and white photographs taken by McMillan primarily in the late 1940s and 1950s. Most of the photos were taken in and around Newport Beach while McMillan worked as a journalist and photographer for the local Ensign newspaper. This collection, along with McMillan’s two memoirs Beach Rat Days and Beach Rat Pix, capture a unique perspective of the early days of Orange County’s beach town and its evolution into a thriving city and tourist destination.
McMillan’s passion for sport fishing is reflected in the hundreds of photos of anglers in Newport Beach and their catches of albacore, yellowtail, marlin, barracuda, and sea bass. The collection also includes numerous photos of boats, mostly fishing vessels, in Newport Bay and out at sea. Important Newport Beach establishments are featured, such as Balboa Fun Zone, Hoag Memorial Hospital, Newport Pier, Downtown Balboa, Balboa Island, and the Cannery, as well as well-known events like the Flight of the Snowbirds race in Newport Bay, Pirate Days celebrations, midnight grunion hunting, and the 1953 Boy Scout Jamboree in Irvine Ranch. The scenes of the beach and harbor show what everyday Newport Beach life was like in the 1950s, and the aerial photographs show the growing beach town from a bird’s eye view.
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