This seven-minute film taken from the front of a San Francisco streetcar going the length of Market Street toward the Ferry Building is said to have been shot four days before the earthquake and fire of 1906, and to have survived because it was sent by train to New York for processing before the quake.
(According to a comment from happykt, “From New York trade papers announcing the film showing to the wet streets from recent heavy rainfall & shadows indicating time of year & actual weather and conditions on historical record, even when the cars were registered … it was filmed only FOUR DAYS before the Great California Earthquake of April 18th 1906.”)
Virtually all of the buildings shown (except the Ferry Building itself) were destroyed in the quake. The video is a fascinating glimpse into early 20th century San Francisco. The street scene is lively and chaotic, and many details are fascinating.
Stevieboy74 writes in a comment on the video, “A snapshot in time of people going about their everyday lives, people with worries, concerns, duties, ambitions, all of which matter no more but have in some small way contributed to the life we live and experience today. All the people in this footage are now gone, but what they were doing at that time was just as important and contributory as what we are all doing today, right now. In another 112 years we will become them, long forgotten but having played an equally important part. Footage like this is so important, simple grains of sand in the infinite expanse of time that would otherwise be lost and forgotten forever, but we have the privilege of seeing.”
The accompanying music is “La femme d’argent” from Airs’ Moon Safari album, selected by UTube user cleaverb.