A video filmed in 1911 shows everyday life in New York City 100 years ago -- see how it compares to Manhattan today

YouTube/Guy JonesNew York City was a lot different in 1911.
  • New York City looked pretty different more than 100 years ago, finds a video filmed in 1911.
  • The video features famous landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and the Flatiron Building, and showcases what life on New York streets looked like.
  • We compared some of the scenes to what they look like today.

The early 1900s were a period of rapid change for New York City.

The city’s population was ballooning as an influx of immigrants passed through Ellis Island. Massive skyscrapers began popping up seemingly overnight, many of them among the tallest in the world at the time. And new technology such as automobiles and elevated trains made the city more accessible than ever.

In 1911, Swedish company Svenska Biografteatern produced a nine-minute film showing everyday life in Manhattan. The remarkably clear footage, released by the Museum of Modern Art last year, includes recognisable modern-day landmarks like the Flatiron Building and the Statue of Liberty, as well as buildings that no longer exist, such as the New York Herald Building.

“Produced only three years before the outbreak of World War I, the everyday life of the city recorded here – street traffic, people going about their business – has a casual, almost pastoral quality,” the museum wrote.

Check out some of the most stunning images below, as well as what those scenes look like today.


The film shows a boat arriving at New York Harbour with the Statue of Liberty in the distance.

YouTube/Guy Jones

The harbour is still used by cruise lines, commuter ferries, and tourist boats. And the Statue of Liberty is as popular a tourist destination as ever.

Screenshot/Google Maps

The Flatiron Building, completed in 1902, was one of the tallest buildings in the world when it was built.

YouTube/Guy Jones

Today, the Flatiron Building isn’t among the tallest 1,000 buildings in New York City. But its distinct appearance has made it one of the most popular and photographed landmarks in the Big Apple.

Screenshot/Google Maps

Source: Skyscraper Center


Here’s a view from the top of the Flatiron Building.

YouTube/Guy Jones

Many New York streets have been widened since then to accommodate vehicle traffic, and you won’t find many pedestrians wearing suits and hats anymore.

Screenshot/Google Maps

Here’s Fifth Avenue, where sharply-dressed pedestrians walked passed high-end department stores.

YouTube/Guy Jones

Today, there’s just as much bustle in the streets, but the surrounding buildings have gotten even taller.

Screenshot/Google Maps

Down in Battery Park, the Swedish filmographers found a statue of Swedish-American engineer John Ericsson, who designed the famous USS Monitor used by the Union Army in the Civil War.

YouTube/Guy Jones

Ericsson’s statue still stands in Battery Park today.

Screenshot/Google Maps

The Brooklyn Bridge, finished in 1883, had ample space for pedestrians and trains.

YouTube/Guy Jones

This is what the bridge looks like today.

Screenshot/Google Maps

In 1911, taxis shared the road with horse-drawn carriages. A typical taxi charged $US0.50 a mile back then.

YouTube/Guy Jones

Taxis still rule the streets, although there are noticeably fewer horses today.

Screenshot/Google Maps

The New York Herald Building was headquarters of the venerable newspaper from 1890 to 192, shortly before the paper was acquired by the New York Tribune.

YouTube/Guy Jones

Source: The New York Times


Herald Square retains the name of its former occupant and is a popular tourist and shopping area.

Screenshot/Google Maps

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