With the future of Market Street in question, I would like to take a moment to reflect on its past.
This film, available as numerous youtube videos and on the Prelinger archives page, is dated just days before the great earthquake of 1906. Watching it is like excavating an urban geography, destroyed and all but forgotten.
This captivating film unfolds in an unbroken shot. The static camera remains transfixed on the street ahead; the cable car on which it rests slowly drifts through downtown San Francisco’s main thoroughfare.
Today, audiovisual glimpses of daily life proliferate the web and media in thirty second sound bites. Depending on the projection speed this film unfolds between ten and fifteen minutes. Try to watch it in its entirety if you can combat the minute attention spans we hold. The length alone is a reminder of rich history of Market Street. The drawn out temporality reminds us that quick changes to the area are only possible through disastrous natural phenomena and effective changes take time and meditation.