The Miles Brothers were cinematic pioneers, filming the historic “A Trip Down Market Street” in 1906. Traveling from 8th Street to the Embarcadero, the 13-minute journey documents the San Francisco area from the perspective of a cable car, showing the bustling swath of horse-drawn carriages and vehicles alongside the buildings and fashions of the time.
What makes the black-and-white images particularly remarkable is that they capture the city just days before that same landscape underwent a massive transformation. An earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale shook the California coast in the early morning hours of April 18, 1906, in a shock so violent that fires started around the city. The original destruction and subsequent fires killed more than 3,000 people and destroyed 80 percent of San Francisco’s architecture and infrastructure.
A new colorized version of “A Trip Down Market Street” returns to the pre-disaster scene with an incredibly bright and clear view of the city. The redesigned footage, restored by NASS, increases the speed from 15 to 60 frames per second, improves resolution and adds a soundscape to mimic the sounds residents would have heard at the turn of the century. The update to NASS adds a creative flourish to historical documentation, but offers a glimpse of the city and its people before it was irrevocably changed.
Prelinger Archives, San Francisco has the original 35mm footage, which you can view at the Internet Archive and visit YouTube for more of NASS restorations. You may also enjoy these 1902 images of a “flying train” in Wuppertal, Germany. (via My Modern Met)
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