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Streetcar-Mounted Film Cameras (and more)
October 19, 2010 8:27 PM   Subscribe


 
stunning and haunting, thanks for this time machine post. makes your existence feel a bit fleeting doesn't it?
posted by arveale at 8:41 PM on October 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Fleeting, yes. But I am oddly comforted by the existence of asshole drivers in 1906 (minute 6:05 in the San Francisco video).
posted by notion at 8:49 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Cool. It's actually London in 1926 though. (The Test against Australia gives it away).
posted by GeckoDundee at 8:59 PM on October 19, 2010


Amazing! Thanks!
posted by cirripede at 8:59 PM on October 19, 2010


interesting how few women are out on these films
posted by pyramid termite at 8:59 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]




That's just awesome. San Francisco is like the biggest country town in the world, folk standing all over the road, horses weaving between trams, cars driving on the wrong sides of the road, and everyone dressed for parade day. Amazing! Thanks!
posted by Ahab at 9:07 PM on October 19, 2010


> But I am oddly comforted by the existence of asshole drivers in 1906 (

It was really easy to imagine all of those pedestrians as either loud drunken homeless people, clueless tourists, or bent-over ancient Chinese women.

Great post.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:36 PM on October 19, 2010


This post is awesome, and like arveale said, it's like having our own time machine. Flagged as fantastic, thanks!
posted by 1000monkeys at 9:58 PM on October 19, 2010


Fancy seeing London without seeing the Tower!
posted by bicyclefish at 10:04 PM on October 19, 2010


The astronomer "joke" in the London film was really pretty awful, but the film was great.
posted by maxwelton at 10:10 PM on October 19, 2010


the plethora of automobiles in the SF film is a little bit staged. the filmmakers wanted the city to appear to be as big and bustling as any east coast metropolis - so they had some of the cars appear several times, looping around and repeating appearances.

(i volunteer with market street railway, one of the organizations featured in the 60 minutes clip.)
posted by lapolla at 10:27 PM on October 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


Wow, that was great. I love how everyone shared the road in SF, although I realise a lot of the people in the middle were waiting to board a street car. Also appreciate that it wasn't the usual old film speeded-up look.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 10:34 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


London 1904 (same footage as the dead link in this FPP)
posted by John Cohen at 11:07 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


amazing, amazing

I spent 5 months in Barcelona last year but didn't recognize the street names (that I memorized the whole city) - does anybody know if those streets were renamed (?) because the neighborhoods certainly look like Gracia and Central....

I miss hats!!!
posted by victors at 11:46 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


er - NOT that I memorized the whole city
posted by victors at 11:47 PM on October 19, 2010


dunno why, but I'm struck by the fact that the Market street footage was shot just before the quake...

"...on April 18, 1906, just four days after the brothers had shot their Market Street film, the studio, along with all its plans and even photographs of the building, went up in flames during the cataclysm that devastated the entire city. Despite their own terrible loss, the Miles Brothers were on the spot, racing across San Francisco and the Bay Area to chronicle the dramatic events with their movie cameras for a film that played around the nation, bringing widespread recognition to the brothers for their heroic endeavors and their skill as documentarians. "

posted by squasha at 11:48 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Charlie Chaplin was EVERYWHERE in Barcelona c. 1908.
posted by doublehappy at 12:21 AM on October 20, 2010


Also- streetcars were so slow!
posted by doublehappy at 12:21 AM on October 20, 2010



These remind me of the footage of the moving sidewalks at the Paris Exposition of 1900:

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x23xo1_edison-moving-sidewalk-1900-paris_tech
posted by 1001 questions at 12:29 AM on October 20, 2010


Love these love these love these. Thanks, Miko.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:40 AM on October 20, 2010


Odd to see London in color. For some reason I thought London was still in black and white.
posted by vapidave at 1:11 AM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


The San Francisco sequence is among the most amazing things I've ever seen, I'll be watching that frequently.

It seems to be slightly squashed on the vertical axis, can I buy an HD DVD somewhere?
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:38 AM on October 20, 2010


I was so worried that the bicyclist would get caught in the cable-car chain slot, but later it seems that he's artfully inserted himself into the slot to ride up the hill on the chain. That is so insanely dangerous, like so much there. The true wild west.

posted by StickyCarpet at 1:45 AM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


It looks like most people knew they were filming; especially in the Barcelona film.

The San Fransisco view is amazing given that in only a few days the whole area would be destroyed and many people in that film could have gone through great tragedy.
posted by Increase at 4:04 AM on October 20, 2010


Odd to see London in color. For some reason I thought London was still in black and white.

The Thames is mostly no longer a pulsating, radioactive green.
posted by slimepuppy at 4:13 AM on October 20, 2010


The Internet is truly a wonderous thing. I just watched a boy, probably long dead, run in front of a San Francisco street car with a goofy grin on his face, so that he could be in the movie. He probably imagined a few hundred people might see it, if this here movie thing caught on.

The fact that probably tens of thousands of people across the world, including me in my office here in Scotland, will see this film and others like it, blows my tiny mind. God only knows what it might have done to his mind to even contemplate this, over a hundred years ago, when he dashed across the street in the San Francisco sun.

Flagged as fantastic.
posted by Happy Dave at 6:02 AM on October 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


I like how the SF tram operator's boombox slowly fades in at the start. I guess he realized the ambient sound would be filtered out by the windshield and thoughtfully provided us with a soundtrack to illustrate what people were listening to in 1906. I guess the camera would have had to be pointed right at him for us to see Spock reach forward and pinch him into unconsciousness though. Oh well, can't have everything. But at least we know why the images are in black-and-white.
posted by Mike D at 6:04 AM on October 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Mostly.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:17 AM on October 20, 2010


San Francisco is like the biggest country town in the world, folk standing all over the road, horses weaving between trams, cars driving on the wrong sides of the road, and everyone dressed for parade day.

I once read a history of traffic control, and it suggested that every major American city was like this up into the 20s - just chaotic and really dangerous, between streetcars, carriages, horses, pedestrians, cyclists, motorcars, and runaway horses. There weren't that many rules of the road or even shared understandings of how traffic should be managed. It was really enjoyable to see that kind of scene represented in this film. I was interested to know that it was staged to a degree - I did think that some of the cars crossing the tracks seemed to almost deliberately be daring the streetcars!
posted by Miko at 6:38 AM on October 20, 2010


Wow, these are fascinating and absorbing. Thanks, miko!
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:13 AM on October 20, 2010


wow, it makes me kinda carsick to watch but i couldn't stop watching.

i absolutely stuff like this - i'm a sucker for well done period pieces so i can see history in motion (and color!). this is the real thing!!!
posted by sio42 at 7:46 AM on October 20, 2010


Were we supposed to be paying attention to the architecture and scenery? All I could focus on the whole time I watched the Barcelona one was of the "Holy shit! Why the hell is everyone stepping right in front of the streetcar?" variety.
posted by kittyprecious at 8:08 AM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


The SF market street 1905 film, along with many, many other fascinating film ephemera, has been available for years from archive.org, in various formats which you can download.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:39 AM on October 20, 2010


btw previously
posted by victors at 8:43 AM on October 20, 2010


victors' previously link for the Barcelona video has this video that annotates the old footage and recreates some of the shots on the streets of 2008 Barcelona. (It explains that some of the street names have changed)

I know that's exactly what I hoped to see after watching these. If someone could get really fancy and overlay footage of modern buildings on the old street scene, they'd win the internet.

Also, isn't it lovely that people used to doff their hats in salutation? I especially like it when you can see their excitement growing to the point where a doff is irresistible.
posted by HE Amb. T. S. L. DuVal at 10:43 AM on October 20, 2010


been available for years from archive.org

I think it made the news again because it was authenticated to a date much closer to the 1906 earthquake only this year.
posted by Miko at 12:36 PM on October 20, 2010


....another neat thing is how very many bicylcists there were.
posted by Miko at 12:39 PM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have seen the San Francisco one before, but I'm not sure I saw it in all it's glory. Which is to say, slowed down so I could really marvel at each frame from the film. I continue to be amazed that San Francisco has cable cars, running (almost) side by side with the electric bus. Such a wonderfully impractical means of transportation.

Thanks.
posted by chemoboy at 2:07 PM on October 20, 2010


That soundtrack ... the implications for the historiography of grooviness are astounding.
posted by eritain at 6:06 PM on October 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


(replacement link for zoinks's above, now borken)
posted by eritain at 6:50 PM on October 20, 2010


I once read a history of traffic control, and it suggested that every major American city was like this up into the 20s - just chaotic and really dangerous, between streetcars, carriages, horses, pedestrians, cyclists, motorcars, and runaway horses.

The SF action is probably so close, because the cable cars are pulled by a chain at a constant speed. I'll bet even the horses got to know just when you could cut across.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:20 PM on October 20, 2010


But there is a quick-release thing on the cables, so they can let go if something's really in the way and not moving.

Such a wonderfully impractical means of transportation.

I wonder, is it, though? The power is centralized at one location instead of carried in each vehicle. I'd be interested to see a breakdown or comparison of how a city bus compares with a streetcar. They were so ubiquitous that they seemed like a great solution in so many cities (well, electric streetcars, if not cable cars). I have heard it was only a pro-auto conspiracy that took them down. And on my one trip to SF a couple of years ago, I was really amazed at what good coverage the streetcar system gets, and that the cable cars aren't only a tourist attraction, they were also used every day by regular people getting to and from work.
posted by Miko at 8:29 PM on October 20, 2010


Great post! The San Francisco film comes across a whole lot differently when you watch this version.
posted by at the crossroads at 12:21 AM on October 21, 2010


The Natalie Merchant video has a short clip of the same part of the city, but with everything in rubble. I've yet to see more though I wish more were available.

I wonder, is it, though?

Maybe I'm a scaredy cat. But a system of exploding dead dinosaurs (or plankton, or whatever) does not strike nearly as much fear into me as a system of quickly moving flesh cutting strands of string. I know one day I'll reluctantly be helping a relative get to Macy's. This is a store that is impossible to find anywhere else on Earth. Suddenly, TWANG, that cable will snap and I'll be beside myself in a most unfortunate way.

Still, it has it's charm.
posted by chemoboy at 3:00 AM on October 21, 2010


Oh, but there is more available. Here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
posted by at the crossroads at 3:38 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I once read a history of traffic control, and it suggested that every major American city was like this up into the 20s - just chaotic and really dangerous

the Highline in NYC -which is now a park - was built because so many people were killed from the trains running down 10th avenue.
posted by any major dude at 12:10 PM on October 21, 2010


The SF action is probably so close, because the cable cars are pulled by a chain at a constant speed. I'll bet even the horses got to know just when you could cut across.

I lived in SF for 12 years and one weird modern adaptation they have made: It has been engineered so that a cable car approaching an intersection controlled by a traffic signal will cause the signal to change color so that the cable car can proceed. The "whoa what!" part of this is that the signal changes no matter where it is in the cycle. So you'll be driving, or more likely cabbing it (SF) and get a green light that lasts 3 seconds. It stains the first time.
posted by vapidave at 4:27 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


sorta previously: europa film treasures - watch some of the earliest films ever made...
posted by kliuless at 11:22 AM on November 13, 2010


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