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  1. #1
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Check these amazing photos of street life before the automobile

    I found these great photos taken in American cities around 1900. This was the peak of the pre-automobile era. The detail is incredible in these high resolution pictures, especially if you view them on a good monitor. You can read the signs, see the clothing details and details of then new Romanesque architecture. The facial expressions are fascinating as people interact with each other on the big city streets. The photos have the same kind of appeal as a "Where's Waldo?" picture.

    I'd be interested in the details you all found interesting. I found horses wearing dresses and Santa Claus. And I only saw one automobile in the entire series of photos. These views would change dramatically in the next 20 years, as cars quickly took over the city streets.

    http://rebelmetropolis.org/exploring...he-automobile/


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  2. #2
    Bicycle Commuter Bluish Green's Avatar
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    Those photos are amazing! Well worth spending some time examining. Thanks for posting.

  3. #3
    don't try this at home. rm -rf's Avatar
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    off topic:

    The Louis Sullivan Guarantee Building in Buffalo looks even better in color. It's covered in terra cotta.





    Wow!

    Last edited by rm -rf; 12-21-13 at 01:38 PM.

  4. #4
    don't try this at home. rm -rf's Avatar
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    back on topic:

    Some early trolley movies:


    A cable car line. Cars, trolleys, and horse buggies are all going about the same speed.
    Check out the bike rider at 3:15, 3:50, 4:50 and 5:30. Watch out for the horse poop and the trolley tracks!




    Broadway, New York:




    Hamming it up for the camera, San Francisco:

    Last edited by rm -rf; 12-21-13 at 01:56 PM.

  5. #5
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    I read a book earlier this year about the evolution of allergies and auto immune disease. These conditions were not an issue back during when the posted photos were taken.
    In urban areas, the streets reeked of horse urine and poop. When a horse died on the street, the owner would unhook his cart and leave the dead horse lying there.
    25% of the children died before the age of 4. Those were hard times for most people.

  6. #6
    Disco Infiltrator Darth Lefty's Avatar
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    Horse poop everywhere...

  7. #7
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slowhead View Post
    I read a book earlier this year about the evolution of allergies and auto immune disease. These conditions were not an issue back during when the posted photos were taken.
    In urban areas, the streets reeked of horse urine and poop. When a horse died on the street, the owner would unhook his cart and leave the dead horse lying there.
    25% of the children died before the age of 4. Those were hard times for most people.
    The people look pretty happy in these pictures. It wasn't yet a crime for people to use the streets as they saw fit. One thing I noticed was that people were engaged with each other and involved in spontaneous events on the street. This can't happen in our modern car choked streets.

    Antibiotics are losing their effectiveness, so we will soon be back to many people dying of communicable diseases. And we have no horse poop, but asthma from car pollution kills children, climate change will soon start causing deaths, and there are four million traffic fatalities every year.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    . . . and there are four million traffic fatalities every year.
    1.24M in 2010.
    Don't exaggerate to further your agenda. Yes, it's still a tremendous loss which could and should be reduced greatly.

  9. #9
    Senior Member SmallFront's Avatar
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    Speaking of antibiotics:

    I notice a lack of ambulances, a lack of public transportion, a lack of shop fronts, a lack of delivery trucks for the goods and food we buy, and generally a lack of people. I also notice the couple stones, and horse drawn buggies on them. I think that if you want so few people you don't want to live in or near a city. You have to find some village somewhere. The one-horse kind.

    I'm somewhat kidding, but I don't see that time as something I want to return. People died in droves from all kinds of things. Hell, women died because their dresses caught on fire while firing up the wood stove to make dinner (I'm not kidding).

    I prefer to have trucks deliver to the apothecary, to have trucks deliver to the supermarkets, have proper lighting on the streets and so on. I don't view those pictures/videos as documenting some glorious past. The reality is that it wasn't. I would hate being a worker back then. Hell, I would hate for any woman/girl I love or have ever loved to live in that time.

  10. #10
    Senior Member SmallFront's Avatar
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    Okay, I take back the "general lack of people". Some places there were plenty of people. At least it looked like that, crossing in all directions.

  11. #11
    Senior Member wolfchild's Avatar
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    If there was a time travel machine, would you want to go back and live in the past or go into the future and live in the future ??

  12. #12
    Senior Member SmallFront's Avatar
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    Future.

    But we are all going there. Just very slowly.

  13. #13
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SmallFront View Post
    Speaking of antibiotics:

    I notice a lack of ambulances, a lack of public transportion, a lack of shop fronts, a lack of delivery trucks for the goods and food we buy, and generally a lack of people. I also notice the couple stones, and horse drawn buggies on them. I think that if you want so few people you don't want to live in or near a city. You have to find some village somewhere. The one-horse kind.

    I'm somewhat kidding, but I don't see that time as something I want to return. People died in droves from all kinds of things. Hell, women died because their dresses caught on fire while firing up the wood stove to make dinner (I'm not kidding).

    I prefer to have trucks deliver to the apothecary, to have trucks deliver to the supermarkets, have proper lighting on the streets and so on. I don't view those pictures/videos as documenting some glorious past. The reality is that it wasn't. I would hate being a worker back then. Hell, I would hate for any woman/girl I love or have ever loved to live in that time.
    I think you're looking at different pictures than the ones I linked to. One whole photo (Dock Street) shows delivery wagons and another (Richmond) shows how wagons have delivered food to the city. Every single photo, I believe, shows shop fronts. You say there are few people, but I am seeing large crowds of people. I'm not sure what you mean by buggies on top of a couple stones. Which photo is that in?

    This is 20th century America we're looking at, not Europe during the bubonic plague. Both of my grandmothers were born in 1901, and lived into the late 1980s.

    As for people dying in droves, the same proportion of people died then as now--100 %.


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  14. #14
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SmallFront View Post
    Okay, I take back the "general lack of people". Some places there were plenty of people. At least it looked like that, crossing in all directions.
    Both past and future have one good feature--a lack of automobiles in urbanized areas.

    Although a steam locomotive roaring down the middle of a major street in Syracuse might have been worse than cars!


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  15. #15
    Senior Member SmallFront's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    I think you're looking at different pictures than the ones I linked to. One whole photo (Dock Street) shows delivery wagons and another (Richmond) shows how wagons have delivered food to the city. Every single photo, I believe, shows shop fronts. You say there are few people, but I am seeing large crowds of people. I'm not sure what you mean by buggies on top of a couple stones. Which photo is that in?

    This is 20th century America we're looking at, not Europe during the bubonic plague. Both of my grandmothers were born in 1901, and lived into the late 1980s.
    Yes, some lived long. Others died when giving birth, died at birth, or died from whatever decease - including polio, pneumonia, and a lot of other deceases you can think of.

    I can also find smokers who lived to be a 100 years old, and if we're lucky we might even find some data on a few miners who started working in the mines at age 6 and lived long lives.

    As for people dying in droves, the same proportion of people died then as now--100 %.
    Hmm, I think that it's obvious I meant "prematurely" compared to today.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by amdoo View Post
    1.24M in 2010.
    Don't exaggerate to further your agenda. Yes, it's still a tremendous loss which could and should be reduced greatly.
    I wonder what the total would be if we figured in all deaths related to the automobile, including those caused by exhaust fumes and sedentary lifestyles.
    Gimme that car-free living!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ekdog View Post
    I wonder what the total would be if we figured in all deaths related to the automobile, including those caused by exhaust fumes and sedentary lifestyles.
    According to the WHO, 1.2M due to urban air pollution and 3.2M due to sedentary lifestyle complications. Pretty sad . . . Something as simple as promoting walking and biking could really change that.

  18. #18
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by amdoo View Post
    1.24M in 2010.
    Don't exaggerate to further your agenda. Yes, it's still a tremendous loss which could and should be reduced greatly.
    Thanks, I appreciate the correction. I wasn't exaggerating for effect, but just misremembered.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by SmallFront View Post
    Yes, some lived long. Others died when giving birth, died at birth, or died from whatever decease - including polio, pneumonia, and a lot of other deceases you can think of.

    None of which detracts from the beauty of streets unencumbered by cars. None of the scientific or medical advances really depended on excessive car use for their development, so we should be able to appreciate and strive for the beauty and healthfulness of car-free streets without casting away everything that has been created since the last time we had such public spaces.

  20. #20
    Senior Member dynodonn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slowhead View Post
    In urban areas, the streets reeked of horse urine and poop.
    In my locale, we have a horse and carriage company that gives tour rides of our downtown area, and even though the horse has a diaper, one can smell the urine a block away from the carriage and horse staging area.

  21. #21
    Aspiring Fred
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    Having dabbled in photography over the years these are humbling images. Makes one wonder what touring the world on an ordinary would be like.

  22. #22
    Disco Infiltrator Darth Lefty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Thompson View Post
    Having dabbled in photography over the years these are humbling images. Makes one wonder what touring the world on an ordinary would be like.
    I think the panniers would be very small, but heel strike would not be an issue.

  23. #23
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Thompson View Post
    Having dabbled in photography over the years these are humbling images. Makes one wonder what touring the world on an ordinary would be like.
    I imagine the cameras were huge and heavy to make such detailed photos. The negatives were, I believe, 8 X 10 inch glass plates. A heavy tripod would have been required also. Touring on a bike with all that equipment would have been difficult if not impossible.


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  24. #24
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Here's a similar photograph taken in 1919, taken in Detroit near the other Detroit pictures. There are many automobiles on the streets, just a few years after the 1900 photos that showed basically no cars. By this time, Detroit was already the car capital of the world. It's astounding how quickly automotive technology was adopted in this city.

    http://www.shorpy.com/node/13040?size=_original#caption


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  25. #25
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Thompson View Post
    Having dabbled in photography over the years these are humbling images. Makes one wonder what touring the world on an ordinary would be like.
    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
    I think the panniers would be very small, but heel strike would not be an issue.
    This guy did.... an amazing trip!

    Aaron
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