At its best, the internet is like Santa’s bottomless bag.
This 7:45-minute film is a gift from 107 years ago. It’s not like we haven’t seen film clips from the early part of the last century, but not as perfectly preserved as “A Trip Through New York City 1911.”
Created over a century ago by a Swedish company and now in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, the film has been slowed down and augmented with sound effects, so the people seem eerily real, not like wind-up toys, and we can almost feel what life was like in the long-ago city.
These are streets many of us have walked. This is the same Brooklyn Bridge we’ve crossed on foot above the traffic, and the same Flatiron Building, New York’s first skyscraper. Everyone wears hats. Some women’s hats are the size of suitcases. There’s a sense of propriety, of dressing up merely to be in the streets, of wonder in people’s eyes as they peer back at this innovation of the moving-picture camera. Cars are few and rudimentary. Horses are many and prolific in their manure output. The Titanic sailed the following year.
No one in the film is alive today.
You can’t take your eyes off it.