I'm happily surprised at how much 'experimental' footage was shot at (and before) the turn of the century and how much seems to have survived. Above are a series of street views of New York City in the 1890s. How much more interesting these impassive, undramatized, cinema verite segments are than, say, surviving melodrama's of the period. I myself get mesmerized watching the flow of life that for some reason was captured by a forgotten cameraman experimenting with his dandy newish device, the motion picture camera. Whoever he was, he was clearly interested in cutting edge tech stuff and possibly worked for a company--Edison?--who sent him out to shoot test footage of things. Or maybe, just maybe, he was somebody who had the foresight to realize that capturing these images on film could one day be a time capsule for future generations who wondered what the world he lived in had looked like. In which case he was correct. I can't identify any of the blocks/corners he shot on but I love the flow of horse carts, trams, people and streetcars--what a sad form of transportation to have lost. I'd gladly take a streetcar over a bus or subway. Or for that matter an Uber.

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1 comment:

  1. Fascinating and quite moving, seeing how all these passers-by, and even the horses, were given a blip of immortality in this footage. And you can sense in the pace of the people, animals, and vehicles as they move by the camera the different rhythm of life then.