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A Trip Down Market Street (wikipedia.org)
45 points by antognini on Dec 17, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 10 comments



The "Dating the film" section of that article is just awe inspiring. Great detective work, and probably the closest to the "hacker" thought for which we come to this website.


The film A Trip Down Market Street:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YRbMMqj0qw


One thing that immediately sticks out to me is the pace at which the pedestrians move. There is the occasional brisk walker but most everyone seems to walk rather slowly, almost like strolling. In big cities today, you'll find that exactly reversed. Fascinating.


It is important to take into consideration that this is not a typical day in the city. Some of the pedestrian were aware that the movie was being filmed and traffic flow was actually staged (there weren't that many cars on the streets in the time, the cars in this movie circle around the frame several times). Some of these people probably went on a leisure walk just to see the filming.

That being said, yes, it is likely that average walking pace was slower at the beginning of the 20th century. We have evidence that just in the last couple of decades, average pace of walking has increased around 10% in large metropolitan areas.


You see some people taking note of the camera or even interact with it, especially kids. However, there are also a lot of people who just seem to be going on their everyday business.

The cars were apparently staged but it's not clear that the rest of the traffic was as well: the reason for the former may have been to make SF look like a more advanced city than it actually was.


People's expectations of travel time is dictated by the speed of cars (which also include traffic interestingly).

I walk to work. Briskly, it takes me 20 minutes, leisurely 40+. Because of heavy traffic, it's pretty much impossible to drive there in less than 15 minutes, so that's the distance it's assumed to be.


Some things I noticed:

1 - There seem to be some electric-powered vehicles, such as the trams at 3'25" and 5'09".

2 - There are no obviously visible homeless or mentally unstable people, though a film of the sidewalks might have been more revealing on this point.

3 - Mutton chop mustaches seem to be popular with portly gentlemen.

4 - The cars have license plates -- 4 digit ones, even. So the number of cars in the US, at least, was probably far less than 10,000.


"There are no obviously visible homeless or mentally unstable people, though a film of the sidewalks might have been more revealing on this point."

Homelessness was most certainly part of that time. More so, because at the beginning of the 20th century there was still not much of a social safety net.

Also, at the end of the movie it says: "4 days later San Francisco was hit by the great earthquake and fire of 1906.

3,000 killed, 250,000 homeless, and most of the ciy destroyed"

My observation was the incredibly broad road as well as the lack of rules in traffic (suddenly changing lanes etc). A lack of traffic signs, and a lack of physical commercials. It was snowy (which might've meant everyone drove slower), and people were just walking in front of the traffic all the time, only moving out of the way at the last moment. Not only with cars, also with horses and trams. People (I mostly saw men and some children at the end, women not so much) were looking like gentlemen.

Children acting up before the camera was fun to see because its apparently from all times.

I also found the atmosphere rather serene, not like a city of nowadays. The lack of noise and lack of commercials help with that.

"The cars have license plates -- 4 digit ones, even. So the number of cars in the US, at least, was probably far less than 10,000."

Back then people didn't travel as much. The world was far less globalized, travel was expensive, and people stayed within the city or region they were born (ie. an example of less globalization).

So I'm not sure about this. I'm not even sure all the police departments were connected to each other. If a car is seen in San Francisco that license plate might also be in use elsewhere. Its something we'd need to look into instead of feel conclusive about. Thanks for sharing your observations though.


This is the tempo and candence of city-life as it ought to be.


cadence, sorry.




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