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Here's 3 10-minute videos for you.....
Back in 1906 some unknown but enterprising filmmaker attached a film camera to the front of a Market Street cable car and recorded over 9 minutes of footage of people and traffic in San Francisco of a century ago. During the shoot, the cable car does not stop, travelling at a constant 9 miles/hr. The camera is fixed, unwavering, pointed straight ahead down the street. There are no bends, and the road itself is flat. The YouTube clip embedded below is almost hypnotic in it's visuals and the trancy added soundtrack.

Although it was long believed the film was made in 1905, intrepid researchers have found evidence (vehicle registrations, signage, contemporary newspaper advertisements, etc) that it was actually made in 1906, and in fact made just 4 days before the earthquake and fire which devastated San Francisco and the area captured in the above film.

The film is rather famous, and actually inspired a couple of remakes.

The first remake is not nearly as well preserved, and was also made in 1906, possibly by the same unknown filmmaker who made the first film. The contrast is striking, because it was post-earthquake. The camera work is rougher, and the camera is attached to a motor car instead of a cable car. It swerves a few places. But it's a clear before-and-after shot of the Earthquake. The version on YouTube I found is a bit cruddy, but it's available in a number of formats at the Internet Archive under the rather useless name tmp_50168. It should be noted that the film seems to have been reversed, as recognizable buildings are on the wrong side and at least one readable sign is backward.

A more recent inspiration was a version filmed in 2005, presumed to be 100 years after the first one. This one appears to be mounted on a street car (there are no more cable-cars on Market Street). It's amazing how much has changed in the 100 years, and how much has stayed the same. There are still cyclists who ride in front of the cars, and one building looks virtually unchanged in all three films.

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That was interesting.


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