After coming across the footage I posted yesterday of a ride through the streets of Los Angeles in the late 1940s, I decided to see what similar videos I could dig up that go back even farther. I wasn’t disappointed. Although this is not HD by any stretch of the imagination, the very unique clip above presents the same sort of “you are there” look at the bustling streets of Manhattan at the turn of the last century. No precise date for this movie is given, but as I’ve said before, looking at the way women are dressed is often a very good way to date a picture; given the skirts, shoes and hats you see in this film, especially the flappy feathered number you see at 1:50, I’m certain this was taken between 1900 and 1910, and probably early in that decade.
The street you see the most of in this clip is Broadway. Union Square is also visible. If you look closely you can see the Flatiron Building in the distance in some shots but it’s difficult to make out.
If this was taken in or about 1900, this would put the footage in almost exactly the same time as a very interesting historic photo I recently posted of Little Italy. This is obviously a different part of Manhattan populated by much wealthier people, but it’s fascinating to see the patchwork of urban conditions and socioeconomic status that was New York at this time.
Pretty interesting stuff…and some of the near-misses with horse carts are hair-raising!