Early 20th century Manhattan looked much different than it does today. Instead of driving in Toyotas and yellow taxis, New Yorkers rode in roofless, buggy-style vehicles. Many of the island’s subway lines were elevated above the streets, rather than hidden underground. Steamboats brought over a million new immigrants across waters.
That’s reflected in a documentary travelogue newly released by NYC’s Museum of Modern Art. Made by a team of cameramen with the Swedish company Svenska Biografteatern, the film documents life in Manhattan in 1911.
It opens and closes with shots of the Statue of Liberty, and roams through the city’s streets to show New York Harbour, Battery Park, Grace Church on Broadway, the Flatiron Building on Fifth Avenue, and shops on Madison Avenue.
At around 7:08, “take note of the surprising and remarkably timeless expression of boredom exhibited by a young girl filmed as she was chauffeured down Fifth Avenue in the front seat of a convertible limousine,” the film’s description reads.
The Svenska Biografteatern cameramen, who made moving images of well-known places around the world, also filmed the Niagara Falls, Paris, Monte Carlo, and Venice.
“New York 1911” is screening in the Titus Theatre Lobby at MoMA until July 14. You can also watch it online here.
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