Posted by: ham8cheese | December 4, 2009

a trip down market street, circa 1906

Tonight Mr. Spoke and I had tickets to Lost Landscapes of San Francisco at the Herbst Theater, a viewing of old film footage and home movies shot in San Francisco, collected and archived by Rick Prelinger.  Before the showing, we grabbed a quick dinner at Miss Saigon, a Vietnamese restaurant that, notwithstanding its unfortunate location at Sixth and Mission, is pretty fantastic.  For one, the yellow coconut curry with shrimp was so good (lemongrass, peanuts, coconut…mmm!) I think I could eat it all day.  And, Miss Saigon gets two thumbs up for letting me bring my bike indoors, thus preventing it from becoming another SOMA bike statistic.

Post-dinner, we locked my bike to a parking meter right next to a lovely Kogswell bicycle on Van Ness and headed into the Prelinger screening.   One of my favorite bits of film was several minutes of footage shot from the perspective of a moving streetcar on Market Street in 1906, just before the big earthquake.  Among the many interesting things about this footage — which you can view here (be patient – the footage is a little jumpy at times) — is the somewhat orderly chaos that apparently marked the traffic on Market Street at the time.  Horse-drawn carriages, streetcars, automobiles, pedestrians, and yes, even bicyclists (note the tweed-clad boy in the newsboy cap riding through on the right), are seen jockeying for space and darting about every which way on Market Street.  It looks like the wars between the horse-drawn carriages and those new-fangled things called automobiles at the turn of the century were not unlike the cold war we have going on today between cars and bikes.  But bikes were there too back in 1906, and among the lovely things about bicycles is that the bike ridden by the tweed-clad boy is really not so different from what I ride today.

Other interesting old film footage of a more bike-centric variety can be viewed online courtesy of the Prelinger Archives here.

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