Reputedly views from a trolley traveling down Market Street in San Francisco, 1906, four days before the earthquake.   It does not seem possible that even before I was born (1923) there were motor vehicles and “moving pictures.”  In our family we did have a “wind-up” Ford when I was about 5.  With the onset of the depression we drove that Ford to death when we left Detroit to live in Pennsylvania after Daddy lost his job as a carpenter.   We did not have a radio until I was about 13 and no phone until later than that.    I got my first job after graduation  (1940) at the Hotel Barnum in Bridgeport CT and for the first time had to deal with a telephone, because we had none at home.  And our family  did not get another car until after I left for college in Chicago!


This film was “lost” for many years. It was the first 35mm film ever. It was taken by camera mounted on the front of a cable car.

The number of automobiles is staggering for 1906. Absolutely amazing! The clock tower at the end of Market Street at the Embarcadero wharf is still there. … How many “street cleaning” people were employed to pick up after the horses?

This information came via email along the film:

Great historical film!
This film, originally thought to be from 1905 until David Kiehn with the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum figured out exactly when it was shot. From New York trade papers announcing the film showing to the wet streets from recent heavy rainfall & shadows indicating time of year & actual weather and conditions on historical record, even when the cars were registered (he even knows who owned them and when the plates were issued!).. It was filmed only four days before the Great California Earthquake of April 18th 1906 and shipped by train to NY for processing. Amazing, but true!