The Old New World
April 26, 2016 10:22 AM   Subscribe

Meticulously built using 3D camera projections of historical photos, Alexey Zakharov's The Old New World is perhaps the best chance of seeing American cities as they were at the dawn of the 20th century.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul (16 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Many of these are from the Library of Congress' National Photo Company Collection (via Shorpy). This, for example, is the base image for the scene of the streetcar passing the lit theater at night (it's the still-standing York Theatre on Georgia Ave., NW in DC).
posted by ryanshepard at 10:32 AM on April 26, 2016

Great idea, but too much cutesy embellishment for my taste. I just want to see moving photographs.
posted by languagehat at 10:39 AM on April 26, 2016 [6 favorites]

All I kept thinking is:

War. War never changes.
posted by Nanukthedog at 10:41 AM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Lots of nice touches. The little people's walking was uncanny valley for me though, like they really needed to poop.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:22 AM on April 26, 2016

There were not nearly as many public toilets back then, Ogre Lawless.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:49 AM on April 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

posted by jacquilynne at 11:49 AM on April 26, 2016

Very cool. This must either be a very manual process, or involve a lot of source images, because like 60% are New York and most of the remainder are Washington. (I imagine this is because there's just more images available of these cities than most other places, which makes sense.)

I would love to troll my local historical society to see if I could come up with enough raw material to build some more of these pictures showing areas that are, well, not New York. :7)
posted by wenestvedt at 12:18 PM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

This is amazing, wow.
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:48 PM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Rock Steady: "There were not nearly as many public toilets back then, Ogre Lawless."

I know you're joking about, but to take your point seriously: ya might be surprised. I've been recently recreating geographic points for an Australian city circa 1890-1910 from surveyor's books, in which city plans aren't drawn to scale but rather have bearings and distances showing landmarks, and I've been surprised by the number of publicly accessible WCs that show up. Here's a quick collection of some (in case you're the sort of person that wants to see 115-year old survey sketches of toilets and urinal blocks). The keen-eyed observers among you might notice that there are comparatively few WCs without attached urinals, i.e., for use by women.

I also attached a few snaps (end of the album) of the toilet situation in an Australian city in the 1920s-1940s, in which toilet blocks had been buried underground beneath the major roads. Not shown are the staircases from which you accessed them, built into the footpaths on either side of the road. Women's WCs were accessed from one side, men's from the other.

And this isn't even getting into the WCs and shower facilities available to people using the local businesses (mostly hotels). Just about everything else about the past, the toilet situation was more complicated than we expect or give it credit for. In summary, it was a toilet land of contrasts!
posted by barnacles at 5:00 PM on April 26, 2016 [14 favorites]

I wish this guy had more about the making of, other than the few images at the bottom. Is this something people can do relatively easily? What software was necessary? etc.? I mean, I liked this but I agree with languagehat.
posted by barnacles at 5:02 PM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Metafilter: come for the 3D rendering stay for the Australian Toilet History
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:59 PM on April 26, 2016 [9 favorites]

No discussion of historical public toilets would be complete without mentioning Paris,

By 1930, Paris counted about 1,200 pissoirs, and supposedly they played an important role in the Resistance movement during World War II, serving as meeting points and message drops. It makes sense – the putrid public urinals might not be the last place the Nazis would expect to find seditious activity, but they would definitely be the last place they’d want to look for it.

posted by alex_skazat at 10:43 PM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

There were still gendered underground public pissoirs in East Berlin in 1988, just like Australia a half a century earlier.
posted by wenestvedt at 3:35 AM on April 27, 2016

I know you're joking about, but to take your point seriously: ya might be surprised.

Thanks for the genuinely interesting comment! I'm never one to let reality stand in the way of a semi-decent poop joke, but yeah, when I posted that I actually did think "What with pissoirs and fewer public health/plumbing/accessibility regulations, there may well have been more public facilities back then, but..."
posted by Rock Steady at 5:51 AM on April 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

The little people's walking was uncanny valley for me though

For me actually they hadn't reached it; they were kind of just springy and repetitive enough to register as animatronics, which I guess I have learned to love.
posted by little onion at 10:01 PM on May 3, 2016

Hate to be Debbie Downer here, but both the steam locomotives shown were decidedly non US style, looked British or possibly French to me from the quick glances of them.
posted by rudd135 at 6:39 PM on May 9, 2016

« Older The Grouch: Origins   |   Encasement was certainly not something we were... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments