I’ve been perusing a lot of very early street scene videos at night, but this one is the best so far. It’s a ride down San Francisco’s Market Street on a cable car, shot just a few days before the devastating earthquake on April 18, 1906 (various versions of this film on YouTube have incorrect dates). What makes so interesting (along with the timing) is the mix of traffic, including quite a few automobiles, and the utter lack of any traffic controls. It’s a dance that border on chaos, yet seems to work well enough.
There is evidence that the number of cars is likely more than would typically have been the case, as apparently there was some advance knowledge among a few of the car owners. And a couple of them make multiple appearances. Still, it’s remarkable film, and a poignent one.
Especially when viewed alongside another shot just a few days later. So much for terra firma.