Amazing: N.Y. in 1896-1905

New York City, circa 1900. (shorpy.com)

New York City, circa 1900. (shorpy.com)

I didn’t even know they had movies that far back, but here are film clips of New York City in the decade that straddles the turn of the 19th Century. Said to be the oldest surviving film of the Big Apple. Simply amazing footage, including a fistfight among kids, a lady whose dress is swept upward by a gust from a subway grate, a copper twirling his baton, Buffalo Bill doffing his hat on parade. Lots of swells strolling on Fifth Avenue. Shots of the Flatiron Building, time-lapse demo of Star Theater on Broadway, the docks from a boat, bridges and more bridges, carriages and trolleys. Olden autos driving by old Madison Square Garden. Deep snow in 1899. Most of it is a lot clearer than you’d expect. This 8½-minute video is distributed by Yestervid.com.

Tip of the tip of the hat to John Hooker for sending me this treasure trove.

About David Brussat

For a living, I edit the writing of some of the nation's leading architects, urbanists and design theorists. This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. My freelance writing and editing on that topic and others addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, and a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to invest your prose with even more style and clarity, please email me at my consultancy, dbrussat@gmail.com, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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4 Responses to Amazing: N.Y. in 1896-1905

  1. dsra2014 says:

    Architecture is easily created by designing it as egoistic sculpture first, and then filling it with program second, without any design respect given for very idiosyncratic architectural fabric and cultural history around it. These inherent rules to respect our past, current, and future generations provide the exact datum from which it is more difficult to screw things up. The role of the architect should not be that of artistic experimentation alone, but rather that of a guardian that uses state of the art technology to create programmatic solutions that relate to the environment and culture around us. Narcissism is simple!

    Like

  2. dsra2014 says:

    David, seriously, something is seriously wrong with these film clips. Its truly hard to believe that all of these New Yorkers could be smiling in a world without modern architecture. #forgery ;^)

    Like

    • Merely bad architecture probably had to suffice, Dave, though truly bad architecture was probably harder to create in those days of rules and pattern books than in these days of sheer genius where bad modern architecture verily rolls off the drafting tables without effort.

      Like

      • David Andreozzi AIA says:

        Architecture is easily created by designing it as egoistic sculpture first, and then filling it with program second, without any design respect given for very idiosyncratic architectural fabric and cultural history around it. These inherent rules to respect our past, current, and future generations provide the exact datum from which it is more difficult to screw things up. The role of the architect should not be that of artistic experimentation alone, but rather that of a guardian that uses state of the art technology to create programmatic solutions that relate to the environment and culture around us. Narcissism is simple!

        Like

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