Thursday 31 March 2011

What a difference 100 years makes

It doesn't seem possible that this is what San Francisco was actually like, just a little over 100 years ago. It took millions of years for us to evolve to the level that is seen in this video, and then consider what the world looks like now just those few short decades later. What will the world look like another 100 years on from now..?


This film was originally thought to be from 1905 until David Kiehn with the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum figured out exactly when it was shot. New York trade papers announced the film showing. Wet streets from recent heavy rainfall & shadows indicating time of year & actual weather and conditions on historical record, even when the cars were registered (he even knows who owned them and when the plates were issued!) It was filmed only four days before the Great California Earthquake of April 18th 1906 and shipped by train to NY for processing.


dnarby said...

Neat film, thanks for sharing.

DP said...

A friend of a friend was sufficiently interested by this video to send the following email to

Dear Sirs,

Having just watched the remarkable film clip from April 1906 on YouTube, the discussion between us followed the line, 'But is it real ...?'. We would love to believe it to be real, having visited San Fransisco and loved the city.

Do you have more information about the source, the history and rediscovery of the piece? And warmest congratulations on your astounding detective work!

And they subsequently received the following in reply:


Yes, it's real, a film shot just before the San Francisco earthquake by the Miles Brothers, a film company based in San Francisco and New York.

The film has been available since it was released in 1906, but the
circumstances as to its making were forgotten over the years. I was able to find newspaper references, more information in the New York Clipper, a theatrical trade magazine, and I identified car license registrations at the California State Archives. The work has been documented in a 60 Minutes television show with Morley Safer that can also be seen on YouTube.

David Kiehn
historian, Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum

...Which was nice...

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