Posted by: wolferiver | June 20, 2010

One Hundred Years Ago on the Internet

Here is a simple journey you can take, back in time, to San Francisco in 1905, before the big earthquake.  It’s not simply a quaint image of days of yore.  You see men and women casually crossing in front of the cable car’s path without so much as a glance at what’s coming at them.  Automobiles — a surprising amount of them — drive along the street, exhibiting America’s traffic pattern of driving on the right — mostly, that is.  Other trolley cars cross the tracks in front of the cable car we’re riding, and so do riders on horses, horse drawn carts, carriages, and bicycles.  A woman dressed in a long skirt with leg-o-mutton sleeve and a giant, veiled hat crosses the tracks.  Young boys try to hitch rides on the rear bumpers of automobiles.  (Yeah!  I know!!  They really did that!)

The streets are dusty, and seem to be paved mostly with bricks, and with few exceptions, the buildings go no higher than a few stories.  What’s odd to see is the complete lack of traffic lights, and how everyone, whether in a vehicle, on horseback, or on foot, just casually crosses the street wherever they feel like.   A few daredevil drivers even slither in between two on-coming cable cars.

This is real.  This wasn’t staged.  This is not a Hollywood recreation of a long-ago street scene.  This is how people dressed, looked, stood, walked, and acted one hundred years ago in America.

And…if you like this, take a charming street car ride in 1908 Barcelona.  It’s lovely.


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