Take me on a magic cable car ride!
August 24, 2005 11:06 AM   Subscribe

A Trip Down Market Street Before the Fire (1905). Pictures San Francisco's main thoroughfare as seen from the front window of a moving Market Street cable car, before the downtown area was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire.
posted by mr.curmudgeon (26 comments total)

 
There's also an amazing follow-up film of the aftermath (1906), apparently by the same film-maker.
posted by mr.curmudgeon at 11:07 AM on August 24, 2005


thanks. i had read about these films and wanted to see them, but was too lazy to do any googling.
posted by gnutron at 11:31 AM on August 24, 2005


No prob. I just wanted to share my excitment at having discovered the Internet Archive media (moving images) section...somehow, even with all my time online, I had *completely* missed this amazing resource.

Guess I'm not as L33t as I thought I was.
posted by mr.curmudgeon at 11:36 AM on August 24, 2005


Apparently, too much "excitement"...doh.
posted by mr.curmudgeon at 11:37 AM on August 24, 2005


And here's the Chron's take about a screening coming up of a re-created version (along with the original).

A Trip Down Market Street 1905/2005: An Outdoor Centennial Celebration: 7: 30 p.m. Sept. 24. Justin Herman Plaza, Market and Steuart streets, San Francisco. Free. (415) 563-7337.


Few copies of Kuttner's film exist, but the Exploratorium, a museum in San Francisco, owns one. San Francisco filmmaker Melinda Stone saw it six years ago; transfixed, she decided to re-create it at its centennial. She is nothing if not patient. Years of planning came to fruition recently when she and a small crew shadowed Kuttner's feat. The result will be shown, along with Kuttner's film and local artists' transportation-related work, at "A Trip Down Market Street 1905/2005," an outdoor screening on Sept. 24 in San Francisco's Justin Herman Plaza, sponsored by the Exploratorium.

posted by vporter at 11:45 AM on August 24, 2005


Wow, that's awesome. Really incredible stuff, and I'm immediately reminded of how familiar that scene looks on a bike, riding down Market Street in 2005.
posted by mathowie at 11:59 AM on August 24, 2005


The sheer number of cable cars in that film always amazed me when I first saw it. They come about a block apart, in both directions. Here it is a century later and our manufacturing systems are vastly more efficient, and yet I'd kill to live in a place that had a transportation system like that. (I say this in full awareness that not all streets could compare to Market street, but still -- damn sprawl. Gas prices aren't nearly high enough yet if you ask me.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:52 PM on August 24, 2005


Anyone know where the Vertical Hold button is in QuickTime?

Nice link, BTW!
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 1:01 PM on August 24, 2005


Great link -- thanks.

As a 25 year resident of San Francisco, I ask myself often: why and how is it that Market Street sucks so badly, so that instead of seeming like the culturally vibrant central artery of one of the most beautiful cities in the world, it's a horrifically depressing open-air mental ward at worst -- and an inert windswept wasteland at best? There's something terrifyingly off about the feng shui of the current incarnation of what old San Franciscans call "the Slot," and it deprives a great city of having a thriving downtown area.

Whenever I visit other cities, I am reminded of how much Market Street isn't working, but even if I was a despotic mayor who could tear down buildings at will, I'm not sure what I'd do. Lining the street with Tom Waitsian porn theaters, gray-market luggage emporia, the occasional brutaliste fountain or mammoth hotel-chain monolith, and Carls Jr. outposts has obviously failed to produce a liveable street culture for anyone but down-on-their-luck basket cases... but what to do?

I feel really sorry for anyone who comes to visit San Francisco, gets an expensive room on Market Street, and never makes it out to neighborhoods like Cole Valley, Noe Valley, Bernal Heights, the quieter streets of North Beach, and the Mission, where the real life of the city unfolds.
posted by digaman at 1:41 PM on August 24, 2005


Nice link, mr. curmudgeon. Thanks.
posted by LeeJay at 2:13 PM on August 24, 2005


It makes you wonder: When exactly did the pedestrians give up their street rights?
posted by brucec at 2:25 PM on August 24, 2005


You call that the best of the web? What happened to the sound and color?

Are you advocating jaywalking?

I couldn't locate the vertical hold on my LCD monitor so I must have missed some of the traffic lights.
posted by darkmatter at 2:29 PM on August 24, 2005


Whenever I visit other cities, I am reminded of how much Market Street isn't working, but even if I was a despotic mayor who could tear down buildings at will, I'm not sure what I'd do.

It makes you wonder: When exactly did the pedestrians give up their street rights?

Put that chocolate in that peanut butter. Kill car traffic on Market and only allow the F train, bikes (with perhaps a 15mph speed limit) and pedestrians. Everybody sane takes the BART or underground Muni anyway.

The only problem is how to get cars across Market ... oh, and that Mr. Business Man will never ever ever let something like that happen.

But imagine the possibility. That would make us truly a world-class city, imo.

Is that the same Ferry Building at the end of Market?
posted by mrgrimm at 2:32 PM on August 24, 2005


Internet as time machine: great link. What any one of those cars would be worth today...

Notice how all the automobiles drive on the right side of the road, but most also have steering wheels on the right? Left side steering didn't become standard until after the introduction of Henry Ford's Model T:

However, with the introduction of the steering wheel in 1898, a central location was no longer technically possible. Car makers usually copied existing practice and placed the driver on the curbside. Thus, most American cars produced before 1910 were made with right-side driver seating, although intended for right-side driving. Such vehicles remained in common use until 1915, and the 1908 Model T was the first of Ford's cars to feature a left-side driving position.

1905 also saw the founding of the Society of Automobile Engineers, and ended the era of the early adopter in automobile history:

1905 was a signal year in the development of the automobile, marking the point when the majority of sales shifted from the hobbyist and enthusiast to the average user.

Judging by all the near car-trolley-pedestrian misses, the streets look like a free-for-all, but the traffic light wasn't patented until 1923.
posted by cenoxo at 2:40 PM on August 24, 2005


I'd kill to live in a place that had a transportation system like that

London buses are even more common, in central areas.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 3:47 PM on August 24, 2005


That first line should be in italics.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 3:47 PM on August 24, 2005


digaman: Cole & Noe Valley representing the real life of the City? If the "real life of the City" involves thirtysomething Caucasians waltzing about in their Birkenstocks, their eyes glued to Crate & Barrel catalogs and ears pasted to cell phones, their mouths yapping in vapid banter because all of their income is tied up in an overpriced home, berating hapless cafe clerks when they can't connect to the free wireless connection, then I suppose you've pegged San Francisco rightly.

I've got two words for you why Market Street has failed to live up to the lovely 1905 standard: Justin Herman.
posted by ed at 5:13 PM on August 24, 2005


i always thought san francisco was over-rated. now, the areas surrounding san francisco are a different story.
posted by brandz at 8:09 PM on August 24, 2005


ed:

Thanks for the steroype. You forgot to mention: Blacks are criminals, Mexicans are lazy, and Asians can't drive.

You are an idiot.

Professionals in the Bay Area earn high salaries, mortgages being the least of their concerns. Myself included.
posted by vaportrail at 8:30 PM on August 24, 2005


vaportrail, I'm one of those Bay Area professionals earning a high salary, and I agree that a mortgage is the least of my concerns... because I still can't afford to buy ANY residence in this city. Nor do I wear Birkenstocks. Don't y'all hate it whent he stereotypes and generalities don't work?
posted by stacyhall1 at 10:13 PM on August 24, 2005


vaportrail, stacy, you seem to have missed ed's point. That point being: the people in Cole Valley and Noe Valley who he dislikes (and I can't help but agree with him there, I've met a lot of those kind on my visits to those areas in the city, and I don't like 'em) don't represent San Francisco at its best. Get it? He's saying (or at least implying) Frisco is a good town-- more than just those two neighborhoods.

Every town has certain populations I'd rather avoid. For example, New York, where I'd rather avoid the upper-class wankers who think they own the world. It's the farthest thing from racism to see that; it's realism. Crying 'stereotypes!' to that is as ridiculous as saying that everybody in the Bay is absolutely Gay.

posted by koeselitz at 12:05 AM on August 25, 2005


We could spruce up Market Street with Neon. Not really.
posted by blissing at 12:43 AM on August 25, 2005


koeselitz, you're the one who's missed the point. Prejudice against Birkenstock-wearing Caucasians is just as much prejudice as any other kind, and saying one should avoid Cole Valley because of them is just as prejudiced as saying one should avoid Harlem because of the black people. The fact you share ed's particular prejudice doesn't make it less of a prejudice. Get it?
posted by languagehat at 5:26 AM on August 25, 2005


If the "real life of the City" involves thirtysomething Caucasians waltzing about in their Birkenstocks, their eyes glued to Crate & Barrel catalogs and ears pasted to cell phones, their mouths yapping in vapid banter because all of their income is tied up in an overpriced home, berating hapless cafe clerks when they can't connect to the free wireless connection, then I suppose you've pegged San Francisco rightly.

ed sounds jealous.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:46 PM on August 25, 2005


koeselitz:

I don't particularly like the Birkenstock crowd either. I just dont feel the need to sound off in a thread related to a 100 year old video of Market St.

This is San Francisco, if you care what anyone else is up to then you are in the WRONG town.
posted by vaportrail at 9:23 PM on August 25, 2005


Boy, some of you folks (and I'm shocked to include the normally perceptive languagehat in this crowd) are humorless and dense. Thank you, koeselitz, for adducing the larger point I was trying to make.

And if, vaportrail, you're truly as gormless as you sound, then let me spell it out for you: Attitudes (such as Robert Moses and Justin Herman's) transform architecture and city plans. And sometimes, thinking about the extant mentalities that create these attitudes (i.e., the neverending Mission vs. Marina debate or, in this light, the so-called "prejudice" I have) put things into perspective.

Professionals earn enough to buy a house here? Really? I guess you don't get out much. Get informed.
posted by ed at 5:27 PM on August 28, 2005


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