Sunday, December 18, 2005

A trip down market street in 1905

This week Bikescape dabbles in found video. The 'scape is still primarily an audio show because I love radio and the challenge of conjuring up a world in your mind while you cook dinner or ride the bus.

But this time I couldn't resist sharing this old film shot from a cable car on Market Street, San Francisco's main thoroughfare back in 1905, just a year before most of what you see here is destroyed in the great earthquake and fire. There is a bit of bike content here but this podcast concentrates on the history of the street most San Francisco cyclistst use every day.

You can listen to my commentary or just turn off the sound and let yourself be transported to a time just before the rule of the automobile.

Best if viewed using itunes or quicktime. (I used imovie to assemble this and optimized it for viewing in itunes and on the ipod)
Watch the video
or to bikescape in itunes.

You can download a higher resolution version of the film in three parts and in various formats from the Library of Congress.

The very first Critical Mass style ride on Market Street took place in 1896, nine years before this film was shot.

The non-profit Market St. Railway collects and preserves old streetcars that you can ride down Market St. and beyond.

This article in the San Francisco Chronicle talks about Melinda Stone's 2005 remake of the movie to commemorate the original film's centennial. (All of the other sites I've visited had credited the film to "unknown" but this article attributes it to one Jack Kuttner.)

Here is a history of the ferry building with a nice sequence of pictures showing the it evolution over the years.

The music came from a treasure trove of old Edison cylindars from his old lab in New Jersey.


Anonymous said...

So, what program do I use to
play a .m4v file?

-- Paul

jon said...

Sorry for not including this information in the post..

The best way to view video podcasts is with itunes. The video shows up in the corner where the album art usually appears. By clicking on the little button below the image you can expand the movie to use the full screen.

You can also use quicktime to view this and VLC might also work.

If you're the geeky type, you might knwo what I'm talking about when i say that the XviD codec is what decodes these files.

Good luck and let me know if you still have trouble.


guluster said...


Anonymous said...

I downloaded the latest iTunes/QuickTime and, when
I try to view the .m4v file,
it crashes!

I'm running XP (I know, I know).

A reboot didn't help.

Oh, well.

-- Paul

Anonymous said...

mplayer plays the audio, but no video, xine
doesn't play anything, vlc plays both the
audio and the video, but the video is
garbled, and ffplay plays the video
(garbled) but no audio. you may want to
pick a more common format next time. :-/

jon said...

Thanks for taking the time to check and letting me know.

It plays fine in itunes and quicktime which is supposed to be the standard these days. I tried using mpeg4 but the codec was too yucky so I followed apple's advice and used m4v which has their nice clean codec. (h264, i think its called)

I was disappointed to see that I only got sound with fire ant. I'll bet vlc would work with the right codec installed (xvid?) but I know its too much to expect of people...


webdude said...

Cool keep em coming, that was great, you have inspired me to find film of my city (London) before car culture took over.

Jym said...

=v= A film historian who works in Niles (Fremont) uncovered evidence that this film was shot not in 1905, but in 1906. 100 years ago today! (And just a few days before the earthquake.)

I saw a sneak preview of this on the big screen last night, and they're showing it tonight down in Niles.

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