“A Trip Down Market Street”

Many of you know I write a weekly column in the Driving section of The Vancouver Sun. What you may not know is that readers regularly email me with comments, observations, ideas for future articles, poignant personal stories and the occasional video.

One reader, Chester, sent me an amazing video. Some you have undoubtedly already seen this video, but I had not!  (Where have I been?)

Filmed in 1906, “A Trip Down Market Street” was taken from a camera mounted on the front of a San Francisco trolley car, and shows a busy street in a bustling city.  Take in the cars, horse drawn buggies, cyclists and pedestrians all vying for street space!  It makes me wonder when traffic lights were introduced and if they increased road safety at all.  Everyone in the film seems to understand the ebb and flow of traffic, even if there are a few close calls.

Also take in the police officer at the 33 second mark.  He is clearly walking his beat, with billy club in hand. 1906 was a different era.

The story behind the film is as interesting as the film itself.  Originally thought to have been filmed in 1905, historian David Kiehn, of the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, determined it had been filmed on April 14, 1906 by the Miles Brothers, four days before the big San Francisco earthquake.

For those of you interested on the full story behind the film, the SF Gate Blog (San Francisco Chronicle) outlines Kiehn’s research on the film in great detail.

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