San Francisco’s Market Street in 1906

Post image for San Francisco’s Market Street in 1906

in Classic San Francisco, Historic San Francisco

This 7-minute film was taken by a camera mounted on the front of a cable car traveling down Market Street towards the Ferry Building. It was originally thought to be from 1905 until David Kiehn with the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum figured out exactly when it was shot. His research included New York trade papers announcing the film showing, shadows indicating time of year, weather conditions on historical record, and dates the cars were registered (he even knows who owned them and when the plates were issued!).

It turns out this was filmed 105 years ago—on April 14th, 1906—only four days before the big earthquake. Check out the men’s and women’s clothing and hats, the non-standardized steering wheels (some are on the right; others are on the left), and the exceptionally casual attitude towards traffic lanes.

The SF Waterfront Editors Recommend…

After the Ruins 1906 and 2006

How exactly has San Francisco’s urban landscape changed in the hundred years since the earthquake and cataclysmic firestorms that destroyed three-quarters of the city in 1906? For this provocative rephotography project, bringing past and present into dynamic juxtaposition, renowned photographer Mark Klett has gone to the same locations pictured in forty-five compelling historic photographs taken in the days following the 1906 earthquake and fires and precisely duplicated each photograph’s vantage point.

The result is an elegant and powerful comparison that challenges our preconceptions about time, history, and culture. After the Ruins, 1906 and 2006 features a vivid essay by noted environmental historian Philip Fradkin on the events surrounding and following the 1906 earthquake, which he describes as “the equivalent of an intensive, three-day bombing raid, complete with many tons of dynamite that acted as incendiary devices.” A lyrical essay by acclaimed writer Rebecca Solnit considers the meaning of ruins, resurrection, and the evolving geography and history of San Francisco. The paperback edition is about $17. Get it here: After the Ruins, 1906 and 2006.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Molly April 8, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Love this!

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