This film is remarkable.  Please read the description below to get a full appreciation of life in 1905 in SF, CA.

This is a fascinating video. A camera was mounted on the front of a street car in San Francisco 105 years ago (1906). Perhaps the oldest "home movie" that you will ever see! Look at the hats the ladies were wearing and the long dresses. Some of the cars had the steering wheels on the right side. I wonder when they standardized on the left? Sure were a lot of horse drawn vehicles in use.  Mass transit looked like the way to get around and everybody apparently had the right of way.

Watch the beginning carefully. At the 33 second mark and immediately after an oncoming trolley clears the screen, a well dressed policeman walks across the street from left to right. Notice his right hand that he's carrying a truncheon (26 inch police baton) and although he appears walking his beat, he is walking with a purpose and  looks ready to use it. Imagine the police of today walking down the street carrying 26 inch clubs in their hands!

This film was "lost" for many years. It was the first 35mm film ever. It was taken by camera mounted on the front of a cable car. The number of automobiles is staggering for 1906. The clock tower at the end of Market Street at the Embarcadero wharf is still there.

How many "street cleaning" people were employed to pick up after the horses? Talk about going green!

This film was originally thought to be from 1905 until David Kiehn with the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum figured out exactly when it was shot. From New York trade papers announcing the film showing to the wet streets from recent heavy rainfall & shadows indicating time of year & actual weather and conditions on historical record, even when the cars were registered (he even knows who owned them and when the plates were issued!). It was filmed only four days before the Great California Earthquake of April 18th 1906 and shipped by train to NY for processing.
Note that drivers and pedestrians haven't improved much in 105 years. Watch for the many near collisions,  jay walkers, and generally unconscious drivers.

Brophy Saturday 02 April 2011 - 08:11 am | | Brophy Blog

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