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also known as A Trip Down Market Street Before the Fire

A Trip Down Market Street1906

  • 4.2
It is, as the title claims it to be, a journey by street car along Market Street in San Francisco photographed over one-hundred years ago. And a fascinating journey it is! Research by David Kiehn of the Silent Film Museum in Niles, California, determined that the Miles Brothers film company shot the film in April 1906, just a week before the catastrophic earthquake and fire. Occasionally attributed to Jack Kuttner, the film was most likely directed by Harry Miles. Thanks to the efforts of Rick Prelinger, there exists a stunning 35mm copy of the film, much superior to the print source here. That stated, this version has its merits. In particular, it features a score by the Beth Custer Ensemble.

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Selected for the National Film Registry in 2010.


4 members like this review

I will probably watch this at least a few times more. It is the most perfect time capsule I have seen - showing people of every class and occupation, every type of vehicle mechanical or animal driven possible, and most of all the insane energy and continual flow of commerce and people through the wildest city in it's wilder times. Small sections could be complete stories in themselves- kids running along side the camera car, trolleys being pulled by horses and running independently full of every kind of person in hats, and the fact no vehicles collide with each other during this mad plod seems a miracle. So does the camera work.

759ca7e3cd20dc5a9cc2485d2902162a?default=https%3a%2f%2fd3uc4wuqnt61m1.cloudfront.net%2fassets%2favatars%2fmale%2favatar m 0074
top reviewer

Member Reviews (25)

759ca7e3cd20dc5a9cc2485d2902162a?default=https%3a%2f%2fd3uc4wuqnt61m1.cloudfront.net%2fassets%2favatars%2fmale%2favatar m 0074
top reviewer

I will probably watch this at least a few times more. It is the most perfect time capsule I have seen - showing people of every class and occupation, every type of vehicle mechanical or animal driven possible, and most of all the insane energy and continual flow of commerce and people through the wildest city in it's wilder times. Small sections could be complete stories in themselves- kids running along side the camera car, trolleys being pulled by horses and running independently full of every kind of person in hats, and the fact no vehicles collide with each other during this mad plod seems a miracle. So does the camera work.

4 members like this review
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top reviewer

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Pedestrians in SF *still* blatantly ignore traffic and will absolutely walk in front of a moving car / horse-buggy / railcar and expect it to stop. Don't miss the epic beard at 8:00

3 members like this review
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top reviewer

Wow. This was incredible! To see Market Street before any sidewalks or streetlights was absolutely fascinating. Downtown San Francisco was just as jumpin' and busy as it is now with businessmen (and women), including thrifty shoppers, crossing the street at their own free will to get to their respective destinations -- despite oncoming cars, trolleys, or horse drawn carriages. Our camera remains steady and focused as it approaches the Ferry building. I had to recheck the date on the film as this was surely filmed before the 1906 earthquake which devastated the city, setting off fires and crumbling historic buildings. It was spectacular to see the industrial boom as well as pedestrians and horses walking to and fro, some nonchalantly as trolleys or horse driven carriages approach. More importantly, we see just how crazy some drivers in San Francisco (or any big city) were and still are, cutting off other drivers, driving ahead of them, making gallant U-turns in the middle of a four-way intersection, or a quick beeline in front of our camera. Absolutely breathtaking as riders on the trolley, where our camera is stationed, eagerly approach the water, San Francisco Bay, or Embarcadero. This has got to be one of my absolute favorite shorts featuring the landscape of a bustling city; particularly, in the silent era. As soon we reach our destination at the Ferry Building, the camera pans nearly 360 degrees to give us one last look at Market Street, which is majestical and lively as ever behind our trolley. Bravo!! Thanks for the recommendation! Will share and watch again and again as a proud Bay Area native.

1 member likes this review
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top reviewer

This is sheer delight. S.F. was my hometown for 30 years,& I drove a taxi there for 16 of them. No traffic lights! No crosswalks! Lively anarchy. This would go well with the Market Street sequences in Mate's D.O.A. with Edmund O'Brien racing through the crowds. Have to watch it some more to discover landmarks.

1 member likes this review
111591.small
top reviewer

Mind blowing archives of the old San Francisco, impressive driving skills of the back then free roads, and a bunch of horsies traffic.

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very interesting look at 1906

94379.small
top reviewer

Thank God for traffic laws. Driving in 1906 was CRAY

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top reviewer

RED LIGHT! GREEN LIGHT!

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top reviewer

I've seen this several times in the original version without this jazzy score. having music definitely adds something to this fascinating study of San Francisco's main, commercial street. It worked have worked better perhaps with music contemporary to 1906. (the score is, on its own, delightful).

One long delightfully chaotic and captivating trip in eight minutes.

I had no idea what to expect but it was interesting –and moving– to see this slice of history. No actors. No script. No plot. Yet it's entertaining and thought provoking. It's tempting to think that was a simpler time, but I wonder if it was. Maybe a subtler time.

amazing.

Mesmerizing! This is one of the coolest videos I have seen in a very long time. Wow the times are a changing!

I can't stop watching A Trip Down Market Street. Just love it.

Amazing. Will give you traffic nightmares and an appreciation for the sense of personal responsibility of our forebears.

Super cool little short of a view traveling up Market Street and ending at the Ferry Building just before the earthquake. Really cool watching all the traffic chaos with pedestrians, cars, trolleys, and horse and buggies dodging one another.

A long static shot of a cable car ride down Market Street in San Francisco. It is interesting for the fact that this area was destroyed about a week later.

Matches my morning commute! But that is some seriously wary traffic!

I love this! The score by San Francisco Beth Custer Ensemble is wonderful!!!

It was a treat to see the buildings and the way people have to dodge all the traffic. It made me laugh to see how drivers would criss-cross all over the road.

I've seen his before and it always makes me stop and watch. I just have to see the whole thing. The film quality is good for the time . The daring nature of the people in the street at this time, is amazing, I love it.

Someone wrote about this is like looking at a time machine. couldn't agree more. too bad you can't really see the faces of the peaple except for the bicycle rider. I wonder if this waa shown after the earthquake to people could see if they could see their loved ones loste in the quake.

Haha...Hank, I know what you mean. I took a cab ride in Naples, Italy back in the early 70's while on liberty. OMG! I didn't think i'd ever see my ship again...there were the three of us sailors in back seat of this small taxi, and this cabbie just flew. Scary. I sat and laughed out loud a few times watching the people dodge the trolley and cars.

If you have any interest in cultural history this will wipe you out. If the city did not have the 1906 quake just 1 week later they would all have died in one massive traffic accident. The only place I've seen scarier driving is in Rome!!!!!

Wondering about the imaginations of the people on screen might be the closest thing we get to a time machine.