Friday, July 7, 2017

Friday Video: New York City in 1911

Friday, July 7, 2017
Susan reporting,

Because of copyright & ownership issues that prohibit embedding, you'll have to click here to watch today's video, but it's well worth it. This is another of the wonderful travelogues produced in the early twentieth century. This one was made by a team of cameramen with the Swedish company Svenska Biograteatern, who traveled around the world making films. Now in the collection of New York's Museum of Modern Art, the museum's description of the eight-minute travelogue is worth repeating:

"Opening and closing with shots of the Statue of Liberty, the film also includes New York Harbor; Battery Park and the John Ericsson statue; the elevated railways at Bowery and Worth Streets; Broadway sights like Grace Church and Mark Cross; the Flatiron Building on Fifth Avenue; and Madison Avenue. Produced only three years before the outbreak of World War One, the everyday life of the city recorded here - street traffic, people going about their business - has a casual, almost pastoral quality....Take note of the surprising and remarkably timeless expression of boredom exhibited by a young girl filmed as she was chauffeured down Fifth Avenue in the front seat of a convertible limousine."

My favorite parts include the hats on every man (summer straw boaters, derbies, and everything in between) and woman (stupendous creations, with drifts of ribbons, flowers, and veils.) I also liked how, when the ferries dock, the vehicles that disembark are all drawn by horses. But I was most surprised by how little the cityscape has changed in the last century. Except for dodging trucks and taxis instead of horse-drawn wagons, in many ways walking the sidewalks of New York is still much the same experience it apparently always has been.


Anonymous said...

Plus ca change. Is it my imagination or are some at least of the carts being driven with the driver on the right, or to put it another way where the English carter would sit? I have long pondered why and when the US chose to eschew the colonial centuries where driving on the left and seating on the right was the norm, bearing in mind the streets of cities such as Philadelphia and Boston were constructed for that traffic.It seems that the rules of the road were reversed but drivers still kept with the 'old religion'.
Also, a discussion point from the last frame but one... when did America decide that crisps should be re-named potato chips?

Cynthia Lambert said...

Love these old clips. It's gratifying to see how much is still there, as I recognize many of the sites shown.

Annette Naish said...

I loved this film. People had definite purpose in their walk. The fashions were graceful. I particularly liked the little girls in pretty dresses, curls in their hair and lovely hats. They would be stoned out of town today.

Thanks for sharing such a treasure.

sibyl said...

Thank you for sharing this wonderfully historic piece of film. My father emigrated from Ireland to New York in 1913 and his first job there was as a tram conductor. I am thrilled to see the New York he discovered all those years ago and some of those very trams where he might have earned his first dollars.

Annelise Goodsir said...

Thank you for sharing that amazing video of wonderful New York!

Liz said...

I grew up with my grandparents and great-aunt, all three born during the reign of Queen Victoria. Grampy, who lived to be 95, NEVER left the house without a hat. And I am old enough (60) to remember when it was de rigeur to don white gloves when attending church. Times change!

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