History

Los Angeles before cars

Spring Street 1897Meant to re-post this oldie but goodie from 2004 for New Year's. On Dec. 31, 1897, a cameraman for Thomas Edison shot movie footage of the street scene in the heart of Los Angeles, then populated by about 100,000 people. Twenty-nine seconds — possibly the first motion picture footage of Los Angeles — can be viewed on the Library of Congress website. Horse-drawn coaches, a trolley and even a cop walking the beat on Spring Street pass by. The opening credits date the film in February 1898, but the metadata on the LOC website says Dec. 31, 1897. Almost as good is Edison footage from the front of a locomotive passing through the tunnel onto Santa Monica Beach, pre-Pacific Coast Highway, and chugging along the foot of the palisades.

This is fun too: Footage of Los Angeles in 1951 — which almost exactly splits the difference between 1897 and now — compliments of Larry Harnisch of the 1947 Project.


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