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Color Footage Of NYC In 1939
May 31, 2013 8:30 PM   Subscribe


 
I love my city!
posted by ReeMonster at 8:35 PM on May 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nice find. I'm going to NYC next week for the first time... Your timing was perfect!
posted by HuronBob at 8:44 PM on May 31, 2013


I don't remember it being this hazy. Was air pollution as bad as it looks here?

Great video, though.
posted by fontor at 8:52 PM on May 31, 2013


That was beautiful.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:56 PM on May 31, 2013


Gorgeous!
posted by SpecialSpaghettiBowl at 9:00 PM on May 31, 2013


http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5XWpFwY6q8c&feature=relmfu

This other film of japan preparing for Pearl Harbor is also very interesting.
posted by benk at 9:03 PM on May 31, 2013


Sometimes I find myself surprised to remember that color actually existed back then. Nice reminder.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 9:05 PM on May 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh man, oh man, oh man ... Thanks.

Wonder what happened to all those people. (And the Frenchy who took the movies.)
posted by NorthernLite at 9:21 PM on May 31, 2013


That really is mesmerizing.
posted by davidmsc at 9:49 PM on May 31, 2013


1939 was a bit before my time... I'm very a happy to have spent the past 40 years or so living and working in NYC (on and off) but that was a really classic era. Wish I could visit that time period but this film was a really nice snapshot of it, so thanks!
posted by blaneyphoto at 10:09 PM on May 31, 2013


My dad was born in 1939. I can't wait to show this to him.
posted by tristeza at 10:13 PM on May 31, 2013


My Dad would have been seven when this was filmed. I can't help but think that his memories of NYC would have looked very much like this, similar to the way that mine look like NYC in the 70s. I miss the City and my Dad both.
posted by blurker at 10:27 PM on May 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, this is so cool. I love NYC so much.
posted by louche mustachio at 12:09 AM on June 1, 2013


1939 New York in HD Color - Looks Like Filmed Yesterday!
Except for the astonishing prices. Pina Colada for 5¢ anyone?
posted by Cranberry at 12:24 AM on June 1, 2013


There's a definite hat thing going on. This was excellent, thanks!
posted by h00py at 12:56 AM on June 1, 2013


Pretty sure that's the SS Normandie at 2:46. Pre-Mafia sabotage, of course.
posted by Hey Dean Yeager! at 1:25 AM on June 1, 2013


Was air pollution as bad as it looks here?

Better believe it. Although federal air pollution laws had an eventual effect, keep in mind that in 1939 New York City was still a haven of manufacturing.
posted by dhartung at 1:41 AM on June 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I remember sprinklers in public parks. Probably the grossest thing ever. One day we blocked all the drains and ended up with maybe 3 feet of water. I got Impetigo. Between that and the Red Hook public pool I hated swimming for years.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:17 AM on June 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wow! My granddad went there in -38, this must be a lot like he experienced it - a European who'd never seen skyscrapers, or non-whites. He really loved New York and had a great collection of jazz records he'd bought there (which unfortunately was lost in a bad storm a couple of years ago).
posted by mumimor at 2:18 AM on June 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I could have watched more of that. Beautiful!
posted by theredpen at 3:13 AM on June 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


That reminded me of Bladerunner.

Just incredible. I want to time travel for historical purposes! Screw jet packs, where is my holodeck?????
posted by sio42 at 4:11 AM on June 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sooo cool! Thank you!
posted by windykites at 4:31 AM on June 1, 2013


Awesome. My mom would have been six at that time; I think that they'd moved up to Riverdale in the Bronx by that time but her dad commuted into Manhattan to his job at the World-Telegram
posted by octothorpe at 4:43 AM on June 1, 2013


fontor: "I don't remember it being this hazy. Was air pollution as bad as it looks here?"

I remember it being that bad in the '70s back when New Jersey was still full of belching factories and everyone was driving giant land barges pulled by V8s running on leaded gas.
posted by octothorpe at 4:55 AM on June 1, 2013


So cool! I had no idea there were ever double decker buses in NYC.
posted by mygothlaundry at 6:10 AM on June 1, 2013


That was spectacular, thanks for posting it. My husband and his family arrived here in 1955 and remembers some of the places in this, like Childs.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:10 AM on June 1, 2013


The obvious big changes are women (pre Second-wave feminism) ; air pollution (pre Clean Air Act); minorities (pre-Civil Rights). These aren't just words, plainly obvious in the pictures. What words will the future gawk at from our own time, I wonder.
posted by stbalbach at 7:45 AM on June 1, 2013


What's fascinating about that is that if you replaced the cars with newer ones, you could convince anyone that the film had been shot in the early 70s. (As it is, you could probably get a lot of people to believe it was from the early 60s.) The postwar time might have been great for a lot of places, but the cities hardly changed at all. At least to look at them.
posted by gjc at 7:51 AM on June 1, 2013


The Whelk, this is great - please continue posts requiring the HATSEVERYWHERE tag.
posted by enfa at 7:55 AM on June 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


I've been subscribed to that youtube channel for awhile. They post a lot of unseen WWII era films in high quality like this.
posted by andryeevna at 7:56 AM on June 1, 2013


People looked good in the 1930s.
posted by Summer at 8:07 AM on June 1, 2013


That was great!

Notice only boys are playing in the fountain. Also, near the end in the view from the observation deck I believe that's the Normandie tied up in the middle distance (along with a smaller CGT liner to the right) - probably how they got to New York.
posted by skyscraper at 8:19 AM on June 1, 2013


My parents turned 25 that year and visited NYC not long after this; I wish I could show this film to them. Thanks for the post.
posted by languagehat at 8:33 AM on June 1, 2013


Oops, I thought I previewed!
posted by skyscraper at 8:33 AM on June 1, 2013


Each of these edits should be about 2 seconds longer.
posted by scrowdid at 9:12 AM on June 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Except for the astonishing prices. Pina Colada for 5¢ anyone?

*slaps down a dollar*


20, please.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:53 AM on June 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is great! In the first few seconds a bunch of people are crossing the street and most (all?) of the women are wearing white shoes! It must have been springtime. In a few instances the men are dressed virtually as men do today, minus suspenders and hats. There's a guy in a white t-shirt with black piping around the neck and sleeves that could have stepped right out of 2013 (or, at least a Ralph Lauren ad circa 1990's). And the waitress in that classic waitress uniform - pale yellow with pointed white detail on the cap sleeve–yay!

The quality and color of the footage is amazing, but what I find most fascinating is that the footage is at the correct speed/to see people from this era move as people naturally did. The city looks great and at times almost like a movie set. Some things haven't changed at all. Amazing.
posted by marimeko at 10:45 AM on June 1, 2013


Too bad no World's Fair footage. Guy had a great eye.
posted by Chitownfats at 12:45 PM on June 1, 2013


Those kids playing in the sprinkler--was that Washington Square Park?
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:23 PM on June 1, 2013


Anybody have any clue as to what camera he would've shot this on? The handheld movement is fairly smooth, suggesting a heavy camera, probably shoulder-braced. Definitely has a motor. An Arriflex 35, maybe? There's something sad in the idea of a Frenchman in New York with a German camera on the eve of World War II...
posted by alexoscar at 7:56 PM on June 1, 2013


I was actually surprised how many people (especially otherwise stylish women) were not wearing hats - I thought it was still the era that everyone wore them outside.
posted by Mchelly at 8:30 PM on June 1, 2013


So cool! I had no idea there were ever double decker buses in NYC.

We've still got 'em! And for the exact same purpose -- sightseeing tours.

That and the fact that the taxicabs back then were already yellow made me squeee like a little girl. (Speaking of little girls, upthread someone pointed out there are no girls playing in the fountain. At the end of that portion you can see one girl sitting on the edge, shoes still on, watching longingly. That broke my heart a little.)

So many tiny gems to find in this. Thanks for posting!
posted by flyingsquirrel at 5:23 AM on June 2, 2013


Great find.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:56 PM on June 2, 2013


I especially like that it's in color.
posted by needs more cowbell at 9:49 PM on June 2, 2013


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