NY Subway 1905
December 9, 2008 6:29 PM   Subscribe

Interior New York Subway, 14th St. to 42nd St. (1905) (sound added). In June, 1905, G.W. "Billy" Bitzer, D.W. Griffith's cinematographer, mounted a camera at the front of a train and shot 6 1/2 minutes of footage from 14th Street (Union Square) to the old Grand Central Depot, built by Cornelius Vanderbilt and architect John Snook in 1871. At the time of filming, the subway was only seven months old, having opened in October 1904. Two weeks after completing "Interior New York Subway," Bitzer shot "2 AM in the Subway," a comic short about late-night cavorting in an underground station. In March, 1905, Ray Stannard Baker (author of "What is a Lynching") called New York's new subway "a confusion of wonders" -- "the next step in the evolution of a Modern City." It would have its challenges.
posted by terranova (17 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
I am in the middle of a story that takes place in 1904 New York. I am ...knee deep in books and material. And this? this? I think I love you. Deeply.
posted by The Whelk at 6:49 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

"First Car Crashes Into Tunnel Pier and Other Cars Grind It to Splinters"
posted by Faze at 6:50 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

6 1/2 minutes of footage from 14th Street (Union Square) to the old Grand Central Depot...

And not a single track fire! And back then, no one was compelled to jump onto the tracks to retrieve their iPhone, either. Those were the days, eh?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:02 PM on December 9, 2008

i'd like to see some footage of the early buskers.
posted by fuzzypantalones at 7:35 PM on December 9, 2008

What's kind of crazy is how not-that-different it looks. Take the same camera up the stairs and film a street scene and it would look so "olden tymes" what with the horse drawn carriages and the bustles and the knee pants-wearing newsies and all, but that train curving north out of the 14th street station looks very familiar to me. Of course there's a little more room between the trains these days...
posted by tractorfeed at 7:47 PM on December 9, 2008

Faze, your first link reads like the Springfield Monorail episode of The Simpsons. Except with a lot more death.

Bernard Goetz was massive massive news over here when I was a wee lad, even tho' I was living 10,306.95 miles away. My mum owns a Hyundai Getz.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:53 PM on December 9, 2008

Don't forget the train running on the track next to it carrying lights so that they could pick up an image (this may be slightly wrong, I am at work and don't have access to my copy of Treasures from the American Film Archives, where I first discovered this film).
posted by jtron at 9:02 PM on December 9, 2008

Oh, I hadn't realized that Hyundai named one of its autos after a murderous vigilante. Cool.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 9:18 PM on December 9, 2008

You know who else was a murderous vigilante?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:05 AM on December 10, 2008

I can't get enough of subways, especially the New York City subway. This is very awesome.
posted by grubi at 5:57 AM on December 10, 2008

@tractorfeed: I thought the same thing. "Look at how close together the two trains are! That would make my morning commute much quicker..." and "That looks/sounds/feels exactly like the subway did this morning"
posted by jckll at 7:38 AM on December 10, 2008

Awesome post. Thanks!
posted by neblina_matinal at 11:21 AM on December 10, 2008

Very cool post. Thanks. Apparently Bitzer also filmed one of my favorite bits of early film, Levi and Cohen.
posted by GalaxieFiveHundred at 12:37 PM on December 10, 2008

Living in NYC (and having read The Mole People) makes me really desperate to check stuff like this out. Awesome find.
posted by businessninja at 1:59 PM on December 10, 2008

Stan Getz! Thanks for the morning chuckle, Paul.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 4:11 PM on December 10, 2008

Fans of NY subway history, and NYC history in general, would enjoy 722 Miles: The Building of the Subways and How They Transformed New York.
*nudges grubi*
posted by Quietgal at 6:11 PM on December 10, 2008

This is a classic. As someone who is currently writing a PhD dissertation on the New York subway, I cherish things like this. If anyone is interested in talking to me about my research, just contact me.
posted by billtron at 8:51 PM on December 10, 2008

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