Allan Hailstone: Twitter is the thinking man’s Facebook.

Astoria cinema, Charing Cross Road, London, about July 1957. Photo: Allan Hailstone
Astoria cinema, Charing Cross Road, London, about July 1957. Photo: Allan Hailstone
Allan Hailstone has created successful photographic books on London and Berlin. He took literally thousands of photos in both cities (and in other places) since 1949 when he was ten. We like their casual charm so we asked Mr. Hailstone for a brief interview.
Your most famous book is Berlin in the Cold War: 1959 to 1966. How did you put it together and how do you see it now from today’s point of view?
Unusually, I did not write first the book and submit it to a publisher.  Some years ago I was contacted by a publisher (Amberley) and asked if I would write a book on London based on my photographs. This I did (London, Portrait of a City).

Oxford Street, London, 21 June 1958. Photo: Allan Hailstone

After this sold reasonably well, during email exchanges with one of the Amberley employees, he was very interested in producing a similar book on Berlin, and that is how it came about. How did I put it together?  I just went through my photos, researched each location and described them, with their history.

The road to Steinstücken, Berlin, 27 December 1964. Photo: Allan Hailstone

How has Berlin changed for you?
Well, most obviously, it is not now a divided city.  I have not visited it for several years (I live in London) but it has become like any other modern city (except perhaps a few places like Fez, Morocco).
What do you think about today’s social media and how do you use it?
I use only Twitter.  Almost all academics, scientists, world leaders, historians, etc. seem to gravitate to Twitter, the thinking man’s Facebook. Facebook appears to be for teenagers who think that their thousands of „friends“ are interested in them.  I use Twitter to post each day my old photographs and to promote my two books.

Chausseestrasse, East Berlin, 12 September 1959. Photo: Allan Hailstone

What other things are you working on now?
I actively promote my books on Twitter and occasionally sell photograph reproduction rights. I spent 35 years of my life as a dealer in coins (a dealer, please, not a collector!), and also co-wrote two of the main standard coin catalogues on British and Irish coinage.  I worked on these for some years after retiring from active dealing. I also undertake some research into historical and financial matters.

Friedrichstrasse at Oranienburger Tor U-Bahn, East Berlin, 12 September 1959. Photo: Allan Hailstone

There is a long description in „Berlin in the Cold War“ about how and why I first travelled to Berlin, my impressions of the city, with reference to the bizarre aspects of the division, both before and after the building of the Berlin Wall.  Each of the 180 photographs is accompanied by  a description of the location and its history.

The actor Jack Warner, Piccadilly Circus, London, 1 August 1957. Photo: Allan Hailstone

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