A RIDE DOWN BROADWAY...IN 1900
Above I've posted a mysterious and fabulous piece of footage that I don't think I've ever before seen. It's a ride down Broadway in a trolley, shot sometime in the early 20th century. The reasons for this film's existence are lost to time. Somebody mounted a camera on or at the front of a streetcar and just exposed film. What we have as a result is a wonderful study in traffic--the lawlessness of the era allowed streetcars, trolleys, horse and carriages and pedestrians to dodge and feint, avoiding near-collisions with almost comedic deftness. The streets are crowded with gentleman in top-hats, the ladies carry parasols, several store signs advertising closing sales (one thing that hasn't changed) and the whole thing winds up at 14th street and Union Square which is astonishingly recognizable. And, as always with these snippets of antiquity caught on film, I find myself fascinated by the simple act of watching all of those dead people, very much alive in their moment in time and never dreaming that the streetcar coming toward them contained a mechanism that would allow people to see them alive, in the unimaginable 21st century.
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Posted by Raymond De Felitta at 12:48 PM