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Old 05-15-13, 04:12 PM   #1
RubeRad
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Busy city street -- video from 1905!

Ran across this here and thought this crowd would also be interested.

First off, here's a 7min long video shot apparently from the front of a streetcar going down Market Street in San Francisco in 1905 (year before the quake). With hypnotically groovy music (watch for the cyclist that comes in and out of frame a few times, not sure if it's always the same guy):


Second, how crazy slow was everybody going back then! Looked like top speed about 8mph for any and all forms of transportation! (although I think the video/film might be running at a little slower than real time)

Third, an extended quote from J. Gresham Machen, who once wrote a letter to a Philadelphia newspaper against new jaywalking laws (JGH had nothing to do with cycling, the point is his perspective on use of public roads between cars and not-cars):

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These anti-pedestrian laws are intended either for the protection of the pedestrian, or for the convenience of the motorist. In either case . . . they are wrong.

If they are intended to protect the pedestrian from himself, they are paternalistic. I am opposed to paternalism. Among other far more serious objections to it is the objection that it defeats its own purpose. The children of some over-cautious parents never learn to take care of themselves, and so are far more apt to get hurt than children who lead a normal life. So I do not believe that in the long run it will be in the interests of safety if people get used to doing nothing except what a policeman or a traffic light tells them to do, and thus never learn to exercise reasonable care.

I am sorry when I see people taking foolish chances on the street. I believe in urging them not to do it. If they do it in outrageous and unreasonable fashion I should not be particularly averse to fining them for obstructing traffic. I rather think that might even be done under existing laws.

But I am dead opposed to subjecting a whole city because of the comparatively few incautious people to a treadmill regime like that which prevails in Western cities. I resent such a regime for myself. I have tried it, and I know that it prevent me from the best, and simplest pleasure that a man can have, which is walking. But I resent it particularly because it is a discrimination against the poor and in favor of the rich.

That brings us to the real purpose of these laws, which is not that pedestrians should be spared injury but that motorists should be spared a little inconvenience. I drive a car from the driver’s point of view. I know how trifling is the inconvenience which is saved thus at the expense of the liberty of the poorer people in the community. Indeed, I do not believe that in the long run it is for the benefit even of the motorist. I think it is a dreadful thing to encourage in the motorist’s mind, as these laws unquestionably do, the notion that he is running on something like a railroad track cleared for his special benefit.

After all, the most serious objection to these doctrinaire, paternalistic laws is the bad effect which they have upon the mentality of people. I do think we ought to call a halt to the excessive mechanization of human life. When I am in one of those over-regulated Western cities, I always feel as though I were in some kind of penal institution. I should certainly hate to see Philadelphia make like those places.
(UPDATE: Here's a 60 Minutes segment with more information about that film; apparently it's not from 1905, but 1906, a mere week before the great earthquake and fire destroyed many of those buildings and certainly killed some of those people!)


Last edited by RubeRad; 05-16-13 at 05:27 PM.
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Old 05-15-13, 08:20 PM   #2
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Interesting! Everything goes slow. The pedestrians look very idle. Hard to imagine fatal traffic accidents.
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Old 05-15-13, 08:35 PM   #3
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Interesting in deed... But lets say the average speed was 8MPH... A big difference and more workable as compared to 30 MPH+ for everybody doing their thing safely/getting away with it, as compared to todays average speed in city driving and with all the other distractions of today...
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Old 05-15-13, 09:03 PM   #4
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The Cable Cars in SF travel at 9.5 MPH currently, the ones in the video are likely the same.
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Old 05-15-13, 09:18 PM   #5
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Oddly enough, compared to the ones today, the vehicles back then, had even less horsepower!

Last edited by Cfiber; 05-16-13 at 12:21 AM.
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Old 05-15-13, 09:26 PM   #6
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See the guying cycling on the ride side of the screen? Seems like he's enjoying himself!
Bet he wasn't worried about having to get out of the bike lane to avoid doors!
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Old 05-15-13, 09:49 PM   #7
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it's slower than actual speed, but expensive to do that way. Hand cranked, so maybe he was cranking too fast slightly? No idea but actual speed is slightly faster than that.
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Old 05-15-13, 10:47 PM   #8
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Oddly enough, compared to the ones today, the vehicles back then, had even less horsepower!
I'm pretty sure bikes still have the same power output.
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Old 05-15-13, 10:52 PM   #9
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I'm pretty sure bikes still have the same power output.

Yes! Quite possibly the fixed gears and single speeds do!


*The first internal bicycle hub was patented by Sturmey-Archer in 1902. Therefore, it's quite possible that there were bicycles rolling along with multiple gears in 1905.

However, there were many more fixed gear and single speed bicycles prevalent in 1905, than IGH bicycles.

www.missionbicycle.com/about/news/8-27-12/did-you-know-history-internally-geared-hubs/

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Old 05-15-13, 10:57 PM   #10
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Most of them look like unemployed, yet carefree
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Old 05-15-13, 11:16 PM   #11
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Hypnotic and a cool find!

Yeah a tad slow, watching people's gait and the flapping of fabric seemed to indicate this possibility.

Good thing the cyclist had fatter tires than the cable slot, I'm thinking many of us here would have fallen through with our skinny tires lol
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Old 05-16-13, 12:44 AM   #12
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Wow, that was a refreshing look at life before we were all self-absorbed into our electronic devices! That looks like it would be fun to make a run down with a fat-tired urban assault bike.
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Old 05-16-13, 04:03 AM   #13
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Wow, that was a refreshing look at life before we were all self-absorbed into our electronic devices! That looks like it would be fun to make a run down with a fat-tired urban assault bike.
Yeah, that looks like perfect terrain for a Pugsley, a Moonlander, or the Beast!
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Old 05-16-13, 07:27 AM   #14
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I wouldn't take this video as real life in 1905, I can see too many people panning for the camera. It would have been more accurate if the cameraman had filmed the street from an obscure window overlooking onto the street, and I suspect that the street would have less traffic than was shown.
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Old 05-16-13, 07:31 AM   #15
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Cool vid! It looked like some of the younger people ran in front of the car just for fun. I noticed most of the cars didn't seem to have mirrors, yet the drivers were rarely seen looking back at the streetcar.

It looked like the car never stopped. Did people hop on while it was moving? It looked like it slowed down near the intersections right after passing a group of people who appeared to be waiting. At about 6:40 there was a woman who hopped on a car going the other way. I couldn't tell if the other car stopped or not.
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Old 05-16-13, 07:38 AM   #16
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Quote:
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See the guying cycling on the ride side of the screen? Seems like he's enjoying himself!
Bet he wasn't worried about having to get out of the bike lane to avoid doors!
But if you look at how the drivers drive, he had a lot more to avoid! Drivers have gotten a lot more disciplined in the past century.
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Old 05-16-13, 07:57 AM   #17
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I wouldn't take this video as real life in 1905, I can see too many people panning for the camera. It would have been more accurate if the cameraman had filmed the street from an obscure window overlooking onto the street, and I suspect that the street would have less traffic than was shown.
It's real all right, this is a technique called the "Phantom Ride" which was putting a camera on the front of a vehicle and taking a ride. This was popular back then. And it was cheap and fast to make. Obviously some people are mugging for the camera, but San Francisco was a bustling city back then. They aren't paid extras.

Everyone appears to be moving slowly because of a poor transfer to youtube video. The frame rates are different between the film and the video. There was little standardization of the frame rates, how many frames of film were shot per second, back then, and they don't necessarily correlate to modern 24 frames per second for films. And then this was transferred to youtube video for more time error. Look at how slow the legs move when the people are running across the street. Think of how fast your legs move if you run across the street.

The cars are slow though. The boys running in the streets have no problem in catching up to them.

I enjoyed it, though I turned the sound off because it didn't fit with the time period.
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I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.

Last edited by Artkansas; 05-16-13 at 08:03 AM.
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Old 05-16-13, 01:34 PM   #18
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I had no idea that song was so old.
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Old 05-16-13, 02:35 PM   #19
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Wow, so many people running in front of streetcars. No fear of lawsuits back then, I guess.
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Old 05-16-13, 03:50 PM   #20
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Updated OP with another video of a 60 minutes segment with more background about the historical film.
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Old 05-16-13, 04:57 PM   #21
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Pretty amazing. Thanks for the update.
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Old 05-28-13, 12:27 PM   #22
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I liked the trotting horse!
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Old 05-28-13, 12:37 PM   #23
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That quote is very telling of how we got to where we are today...
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Old 05-28-13, 12:44 PM   #24
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heh I recognized that music immediately, hear it often on the DirecTV Zen music channel we have on in our bedroom at night. Nice vid, too. Back then it looks quite easy to ride a bike the same speed as the motor cars, or the horses pulling carriages, or sometimes even faster I'll bet.
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Old 05-28-13, 01:01 PM   #25
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Quote:
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I had no idea that song was so old.
Yeah, I like how the cities pumped out ambient music back then.
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