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Found Footage Offers a New Glimpse at 1906 San Francisco Earthquake (nytimes.com)
28 points by aaronbrethorst 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 7 comments

What I continually find neat and attractive in these old videos, specifically the one before the earthquake, is how multiuse the roads were.

People walking in the middle of the street, carts, horses, etc. The street hadn’t yet been given completely over to the car. We’ve swung so far away from this now to make it illegal to jaywalk for the efficiency of cars getting around without them needing to worry about other forms of traffic.

It’s definitly safer now, but at the cost of giving over significant portions of our cities to cars. We put the onus on the pedestrian, cyclist, scooter, et al, to fight for getting access back to the street, but it hasn’t always been this way.

Edit: spelling.

And there's actually a great article about this that was on HN in January -- the history of the term jaywalking:


Basically, automobiles were killing people in the streets, so manufacturers lobbied to get people off the streets and turn them into car-only thoroughfares, and invented a new term for their campaign -- jaywalking, where "jay" back then used to mean "hick" or someone from the country.

There's an interesting thought in there somewhere. Something about maybe that hick from the country wasn't as stupid as he was made out to be and people bought into the derogatory term to their own detriment. Seems some modern era people might consider that from time-to-time.

Indeed, and two other things that struck me about it were the amazing frequency of trolleys, and the number of right-hand drive cars (not an artifact of film reversal - the writing on signs is correct.) It is well-documented how the car industry successfully lobbied to kill public transport, and it seems that up to 1910, most American cars were right-hand drive, until Ford effectively standardized left-hand drive with the Model T.


The car industry killing public transport is absolutely not well documented. Public transport was highly unpopular at that time and most systems were in dire need of repair after deferred maintenance accumulated during the war. People wanted cars and did not see the downside. Rewriting what happened now as an industry killing off services has more to do with modern politics than actual historical records.

well one thing to realize back then and you can see it in the video, horses made one hell of a mess. there are many stories of cities with dead horses being all to common and a famous NYC photo of kids playing in a dirty street with one

I found this one: https://viewing.nyc/vintage-photograph-of-new-york-city-chil...

Yes, I'm not really advocating for a resurgence of the horse in cities, just that we get roads that can be used for more things than just cars.

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