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View Full Version : Time machine: A trip down Market Street



Bruce Page
11-20-2010, 11:20 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=NINOxRxze9k

My daughter sent this to me and I thought it was fascinating. The film is a little over seven minutes but worth the price of admission. I found it amazing that everyone had the sense not to get run over. There’d be blood on the streets with today’s population.

I don’t know how much of the narrative below is true.

“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 amount of automobiles is staggering for 1906. Absolutely amazing!
The clock tower at the end of Market Street at the Embarcadero wharf is still there. (I'm also wondering ... How many "street cleaning" people were employed to pick up after the horses? Talk about going green!)
This film, 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
San Francisco quake and shipped by train to NY for
processing. Amazing but true!

Just think - everybody - every single person you see in this video is
no longer alive... Just think about that for a minute. Makes you
realize just how short our "visit" here really is.”

Greg Peterson
11-21-2010, 1:31 AM
I saw someone talking on a cell phone and a 747 flying off in the distance.

Pretty cool. However, the pace of everything was very pedestrian. No one was moving fast. I see faster driving in parking lots these days.

Doug Mason
11-21-2010, 2:01 AM
That's a neat video!!!

Steve Schlumpf
11-21-2010, 2:26 AM
Wow - that was amazing! Hard to believe it but my grandfather was 20 when that film was taken! Looked like quite the busy place!

Ken Fitzgerald
11-21-2010, 8:55 AM
I thought I saw Clabo standing on one of the corners......a schooner of beer in one hand and cigar in the other....but I could be wrong.....

Thanks Bruce. Sharon and I both enjoyed it.

Scott Shepherd
11-21-2010, 9:57 AM
Very interesting, thanks for sharing.

Proves to me people have been horrible drivers for a century now so I can give up on thinking it's a new thing :) Some of those people were crazy drivers! Yeah, just whip in front of the cable car. Apparently they didn't have sidewalks back then either. I wonder why everyone wanted to walk in the middle of the street where all the traffic is?

I see they had punks back them too, the kids standing in front of the cable car until the last minute, then the kids hanging on to the back of the car while it was driving.

I'm so discouraged now. I thought we had a chance and fixing some of these issues. I guess it's genetics, and we can't fix that......yet :)

Belinda Williamson
11-21-2010, 10:14 AM
How cool that there are horses and wagons and autos and street cars - all on the same street. I wonder why anyone would have thought to mount a camera to the front of a street car. It seems that at that time developing the film, etc., would have been an expensive undertaking for something so mundane. Who would want to watch it? (besides us of course so perhaps the person who created the film was a time traveler):)

Pat Germain
11-22-2010, 10:04 AM
Fascinating! This film was featured in a CBS News/60 Minutes story. Interestingly, watching their version presents a slightly different impressiong. The YouTube version is "morphed" and makes things look much larger than they really were. Also, I think the film speed has been manipulated in the YouTube version. (And whoever decided to add the contemporary jazz soundtrack got it all wrong.) :)

Anyway, take a look at this version and see if you agree the impression is different:

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504803_162-20019755-10391709.html

Belinda Williamson
11-22-2010, 11:53 AM
Pat,

I like your version much better. The YT version had me almost expecting to see Charlie Chaplin or the Keystone Cops come around the corner. The CBS version just made me want to cry thinking that those folks had no idea what was in store for them in the coming days.

Pat Germain
11-22-2010, 11:59 AM
Pat,

I like your version much better. The YT version had me almost expecting to see Charlie Chaplin or the Keystone Cops come around the corner. The CBS version just made me want to cry thinking that those folks had no idea what was in store for them in the coming days.

My reaction was similar, Belinda. I'm thinking about not just the earthquake, but the huge fire which ensued thereafter. For those who did survive, it must have been terrifying to see their city reduced to rubble and ash.

Norberto Coutinho
11-22-2010, 8:38 PM
A doubt. Maybe stupid. Why do the cars have steering wheel on the right side? :confused:

Belinda Williamson
11-23-2010, 8:05 AM
A doubt. Maybe stupid. Why do the cars have steering wheel on the right side? :confused:

If I remember correctly early autos had steering wheels on the right. I'm not sure why. Hopefully someone else can tell us the reason.

Some specifications for the 1906 Ford models.

http://www.mtfca.com/books/1906.htm

And images

http://www.google.com/images?q=Ford+model+K&rls=com.microsoft:en-us:IE-SearchBox&oe=UTF-8&rlz=1I7SUNA_en&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=univ&ei=_rDrTMurN4G8lQf7zvi1AQ&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ct=title&resnum=1&ved=0CCAQsAQwAA&biw=994&bih=527

Joe Leigh
11-23-2010, 9:16 AM
The thing that strikes me is that everyone is moving at the same pace; pedestrians, cars, trollys, horses. No one in any rush and everyone aware of their surroundings...

Belinda Williamson
11-23-2010, 10:58 AM
The thing that strikes me is that everyone is moving at the same pace; pedestrians, cars, trollys, horses. No one in any rush and everyone aware of their surroundings...

Which just proves there are no cell phones. :D

Jim Koepke
11-23-2010, 4:09 PM
+1 on the 60 minutes version being better.

I grew up in the San Francisco area and know a little about some of the land marks along the way.

There are only two main cable car lines left in San Francisco today. The California Street line and the Powell Street line.

From what was discussed on another forum, a lot of the activity in this film was staged. If you watch, you will notice the same cars are going by numerous times. The one with the 4867 plate is the easiest to spot. You will notice they pull over and some will actually make a U-turn in front of the cable car.

If what I know is correct, this camera was hand cranked. That is pretty good for that long a movie to be that smooth with someone turning the crank.

Someone on the other forum mentioned that there may have been some publicity before hand and that could be why there are a lot of people who seem very aware that the film was being made. Makes me wonder about the cop in the ferry building at the very end who seems to be putting his finger to his nose.

Also, the cable that pulls the cable cars moves at a constant 9 miles per hour. The grip man will use the cable for breaking when going down hill.

Now at the Powell Street turn around, they have a line and ticket taking to get on. In the old days, I would hope on the back and get up the hill before the fare collector would get to me. Then I would jump off with my load of news papers and he would yell at me about getting me next time. Back then, a quarter was a lot of money for a kid trying to make a few bucks selling papers on the streets of San Francisco.

jtk

John M Wilson
11-23-2010, 6:07 PM
In the early days of motorcar design, there was no one standard for how things were laid out. Some of the earliest designs had the driver in the center, operating a tiller for steering, which is an amalgam of where you would sit in a horse-drawn carriage with how you would steer a boat.

The decision on where to mount the steering wheel was driven by the side of the road you would choose to drive on ... The driver is best situated nearest the center line. You only need this if you have two distinct lanes (doesn't matter on a one lane road) and you only need two distinct lanes if you have lots of cars. So there was a period of time when manufacturers were not standardized, because the need did not exist.

When they finally did standardize, there was no real correct answer on which side you pick, so long as everyone does it the same. England picked one side, we picked the other.

Jay Rasmussen
11-23-2010, 10:14 PM
Thanks Bruce!
Great video, I liked the music!