Sunday, April 11, 2010

San Francisco Traffic 1906

This movie was shot 4 days before the big earthquake.

Apart from the undeniable time-machine coolness of watching a 104-year old movie, there are a few things that strike me about this film.

  • First is the sheer anarchy of traffic. There are no lane stripes, no stoplights or stop signs, no crosswalks. Other than a tacit agreement that everyone keeps to the right side of the road, there don't seem to be any rules at all.
  • Notice, too, that some automobiles have the steering wheel on the right, and others on the left. That particular design issue wasn't fully sorted out for a couple more decades. The last right-hand drive autos built in the U.S. were made by Stutz in 1921
  • Quite apart from its subject matter, this sequence has particular historical significance as the first film made in 35mm format.”

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