1906 Cable Car Video

This video from the Prelinger Archives is reported to be one of the earliest 35mm films and it is from a camera mounted on the front of a cable car that makes it’s way down Market Street to the Ferry Building Clock Tower. What makes this video extraordinary is that it was taken just 4 days before the 1906 earthquake that destroyed much of San Francisco, so what you are seeing is not only one of the oldest films in history but also one of the last images of pre-quake San Francisco.

What really stood out for me in watching this film is the number of cars plying the streets of SF (and they have license plates indicating a government bureaucracy from the earliest days of the car!), and how wide the avenues were at the with pedestrian and vehicle traffic happily co-mingling. Looking at Market Street today I am not sure if we have evolved or devolved from this earlier time.

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