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  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: England earlb's Avatar
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    Oct 2007
    15 times
    I've just received this fascinating message from a friend - curious to see your reactions :-

    This is a fascinating movie. A camera was mounted on the front of a street car in San Francisco 104 years ago (1906). Perhaps the oldest "home movie" that you will ever see! I watched it a couple of times. 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 standardised on the left? Sure were still a lot of horse drawn vehicles in use. Mass transit looked like the way to get around. Looks like everybody 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 looks ready to use it. Imagine the police of today walking down the street carrying a 26 inch club in their hand..???

    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.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Country: Wales David Challinor's Avatar
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    Feb 2004
    9 times
    absoltely fascinating - ty

  3. #3
    Senior Member Country: England cornershop15's Avatar
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    Nov 2008
    177 times
    Incredible footage, indeed. Thanks for posting this, Alan. It's also on the Internet Archive. Here's the Ferry Building just after the earthquake:

    The Ferry Building stands virtually undamaged by the fire that followed the earthquake in
    1906. Fireboats pumped water from the bay onto the building to save it from the flames.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Country: United States torinfan's Avatar
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    Nov 2007
    71 times
    WOW that is totally awesome thank you Earlb!

  5. #5
    Senior Member Country: Scotland Gerald Lovell's Avatar
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    Aug 2009
    182 times
    An amazing piece of history! Notice how the traffic goes where it wills, and the pedestrians have to dodge out of the way. It's sobering to think what happened there four days later.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Country: England Tonch's Avatar
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    May 2006
    98 times
    Fascinating footage and coupled with the music, quite mesmerising... thanks for posting it!

  7. #7
    Senior Member Country: Ireland jimw1's Avatar
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    Aug 2006
    396 times
    Wonderful Footage thanks for the Excellent post earlb the year my Grandfather was born

  8. #8
    Senior Member Country: Scotland narabdela's Avatar
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    May 2008
    20 times
    It was the first 35mm film ever.
    Fascinating indeed...but the "first 35mm film ever"? Nonsense!

    35mm was introduced in 1892 and there is surviving pre-1900 footage.

    EDIT: This link shows it in the correct aspect ratio. The original link shows a 'fat' image.
    Last edited by narabdela; 08-05-11 at 08:36 AM.

  9. #9
    Super Moderator Country: England
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    7 times
    Indeed, fascinating clip, but 1906 films are hardly rare; you can recreate entire film programmes from 1896....

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