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New York at the Turn of the Century
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1.

A Street Arab

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A preadolescent boy, dressed like a street urchin, performs acrobatic stunts for the camera.; From a contemporary Edison Company catalog: A STREET ARAB. Umreichen [code for telegraphic orders]. Shows one of New York's street gamins going through various acrobatic evolutions; he turns handsprings backward and forward, walks the crab, does cart wheels and other kindred feats. An exceptionally unique part of the performance is his standing on his head and twisting around like a top. It is safe to say he will be bald-headed at an early age.
FilmOnline
1898
2.

Arrival of Emigrants [I.E. Immigrants], Ellis Island

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Depicts scenes at the Immigration Depot and a nearby dock on Ellis Island. Appears to show, first, a group of immigrants lined up to board a vessel leaving the island, then another group arriving at the island and being directed off of the dock and into the Depot by a uniformed official.
FilmOnline
1906
3.

At the Foot of the Flatiron

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This street level view is of the Broadway side of the Flatiron, or Fuller Building, near the narrow north corner. Filmed on a very windy day, pedestrians of various descriptions are seen passing by the camera, clutching hats and skirts against the wind. According to some New York City historians, this corner was known as the windiest corner of the city, and in the era of the long skirt, standing on it was considered a good vantage point for a glimpse of a lady's ankle. Policemen would chase away such loungers from the 23rd Street corner, giving rise to the expression "twenty-three skidoo."
FilmOnline
1903
4.

Automobile Parade

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This may be the first annual automobile parade, held on November 4, 1899 in downtown Manhattan. At least ten different makes and models are seen, including electric and steam powered machines. Only three years earlier, in 1896, Henry Ford, Charles Brady King, Alexander Winton and Ransom Eli Olds had each introduced their gasoline cars. In 1900, the first National Auto Show was held at Madison Square Garden and the favorites were the electrics and the steamers. In 1901, new oil fields in Texas made gasoline affordable. That same year, mass production techniques were introduced into car manufacturing. These two factors would prove to be key developments in the rapid growth of the American automobile industry.
FilmOnline
1900
5.

Bargain Day, 14th Street, New York

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The film shows hundreds of tightly packed people crowding into the front door of the Rothschild Co. 5 and 10 cent store. They are so closely packed it is difficult to tell one from another. The view is from across the street, looking down from the 2nd floor.
FilmOnline
1905
6.

Broadway & Union Square, New York

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This short film shows two horse-drawn streetcars, one approaching the camera and the other heading away. Passengers can be seen boarding and getting off of the crowded cars.
FilmOnline
1903
7.

Buffalo Bill's Wild West Parade

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The film shows a parade down Fifth Avenue, New York. In the foreground many children, both black and white, can be seen following alongside the parade. The participants in the parade include cowboys, Indians, and soldiers in the uniform of the United States Cavalry on horseback and riding horse-drawn coaches. Buffalo Bill can be seen on horseback, lifting his hat to the crowd.
FilmOnline
1902
8.

Delivering Newspapers

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The film shows a group of about fifty pre-adolescent boys running and crowding around a one-horse paneled newspaper van that pulls up in the foreground of the picture. On the side of the van is a sign reading "New York World." As they gather around the rear of the vehicle, a fight breaks out between two of the boys. The film ends as the crowd forms around the two fighters. Probably filmed at Union Square.
FilmOnline
1903
9.

Departure of Peary [and the] "Roosevelt" From New York

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The camera pans to show the schooner "Roosevelt" docked at a covered pier on the Hudson River on Manhattan's west side. Then, from a camera position on board, men in straw hats and fashionably dressed ladies are seen boarding the ship. Next, the famous polar explorer Robert Peary appears on the gangway in a dark jacket, mustache and straw hat. He tips his hat, consults his watch, then, just before the film ends, motions to order the departure. On this expedition he achieved the "farthest north" record, but failed to reach the North Pole. Completed only four months prior to this film, the "Roosevelt" was specially designed to withstand Arctic ice. She was 184 feet long, 35 and a half feet wide, with a hull over two and a half feet thick. Fully loaded the ship weighed 1,500 tons while [...]
FilmOnline
1905
10.

Elevated Railroad, New York

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The film was photographed from the front platform of a train traveling over elevated tracks in New York City. Although many of the buildings alongside the tracks can be seen, it is difficult to determine the exact location of the scene.
FilmOnline
1903
11.

Emigrants [I.E. Immigrants] Landing at Ellis Island

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From a contemporary Edison film company catalog: EMIGRANTS LANDING AT ELLIS ISLAND. Shows a large open barge loaded with people of every nationality who have just arrived from Europe, disembarking at Ellis Island, N.Y.A most interesting and typical scene.; The film opens with a view of the steam ferryboat "William Myers," laden with passengers, approaching a dock at the Ellis Island Immigration Station. The vessel is docked, the gangway is placed, and the immigrant passengers are seen coming up the gangway and onto the dock, where they cross in front of the camera.
FilmOnline
1903
12.

Excavating for a New York Foundation

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The scene is an excavation pit at an unidentified New York City construction site. A crew of six men can be seen shoveling dirt into a four-wheeled wooden cart. Then a full cart is slowly lifted out of the pit to street level by a steam-powered crane. These carts are similar in design to those shown dumping rubble at the end of the film New York City Dumping Wharf. Advertisements and campaign posters can be seen on the exposed wall of the building in the background.
FilmOnline
1903
13.

Funeral of Hiram Cronk

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The film shows a city thoroughfare lined with crowds of people watching a military parade. The first group to come into view is a marching band then a large formation of soldiers in the uniform of Rough Riders. Following them is a hearse drawn by four black horses, escorted by veterans of the Civil War, and horse-drawn open carriages. The camera position shifts and most of the paraders can be seen for a second time: the band, the hearse, and the Civil War veterans. Hiram Cronk, a veteran of the War of 1812, died at the age of 105. He was thought to be the last surviving veteran of that war.
FilmOnline
1905
14.

Interior N.Y. Subway, 14th St. To 42nd St

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The camera platform was on the front of a New York subway train following another train on the same track. Lighting is provided by a specially constructed work car on a parallel track. At the time of filming, the subway was only seven months old, having opened on October 27, 1904. The ride begins at 14th Street (Union Square) following the route of today's east side IRT, and ends at the old Grand Central Station, built by Cornelius Vanderbilt in 1869. The Grand Central Station in use today was not completed until 1913.
FilmOnline
1905
15.

Move on

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Filmed in New York's Lower East Side, the scene is a street where several pushcart vendors have gathered to sell their goods. In the foreground are fruit and vegetable carts. An elevated railroad track crosses over the street in the background. As the film progresses, two policemen can be seen heading up the street toward the camera and ordering all of the vendors to move. One of the policemen approaches the camera waving his nightstick, and the cart in the foreground begins moving. The film ends with a closeup of the policeman scolding the vendor.; From a contemporary Edison film company catalog: MOVE ON. In certain sections of New York City large numbers of Jewish and Italian push-cart vendors congregate so closely along the sidewalks that they interfere with traffic. Policemen kee [...]
FilmOnline
1903
16.

New York Police Parade, June 1st, 1899

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From a contemporary Edison Company catalog: NEW YORK POLICE PARADE. An excellent view of "The Finest," on their annual parade and inspection, June 1, 1899. The head of the column is just turning into 14th Street from Broadway, the Morton House forming part of the background. Crowds line both sides of the cable car tracks, falling back as the band heading the first division swings around Dead Man's Curve and passes the camera. Chief Devery makes a fine showing, as also do his men, with their white gloves and helmets, shining buttons and spic and span appearance in general.; The film shows members of "New York's Finest" parading at a crowded Union Square. There are members of the Bicycle Squad, mounted horses, and two regimental marching bands. At the time of filming, the New York City [...]
FilmOnline
1899
17.

N.Y. Fire Department Returning

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Shot at an unidentified location in New York City, the film shows several pieces of horse-drawn fire vehicles in motion: two hook-and-ladders; two steam pumpers; a rescue wagon. Note the kids hanging on the back of some of the vehicles.
FilmOnline
1903
18.

Opening the Williamsburg Bridge

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The film was shot on the roadway of the newly constructed Williamsburg Bridge. The first people to come into view are press photographers carrying large wooden "box" cameras. Next, a parade of dignitaries and military representatives, accompanied by members of the press, is photographed passing the camera position led by a standard bearer whose banner reads "MAYOR". The mayor of New York was Seth Low, a lame-duck at the time of filming, having been defeated in November, 1903 by George B. McClellan. The Williamsburg Bridge, a combined cantilever and suspension bridge, crosses the East River from Delancey and Clinton Streets, Manhattan, to Roebling and S. 5th Streets, Williamsburg. Built at a cost of twelve million dollars, it held two lanes of roadway, two "L" tracks, four trolley tra [...]
FilmOnline
1904
19.

Panorama From the Tower of Brooklyn Bridge

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The view was taken from the tower on the Brooklyn side of the bridge. As the film begins, the camera is looking southwest, towards the southern tip of Manhattan (the Battery). The camera pans very rapidly north following Manhattan's East River shoreline, across the bridge span itself and the bridge's New York side tower, following the shoreline further north towards Corlear's Hook, where the film ends. Some visible landmarks include the Fulton Fish Market buildings at Fulton and South Streets (currently the site of the South Street Seaport Museum); north of the bridge tower is the Catherine Slip, where a Catherine Street Ferry is docked.
FilmOnline
1903
20.

Panorama From Times Building, New York

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The view is from the top of the then newly-erected Times Building, at a height of approximately twenty stories. The film opens with a vertical pan, going from the street below up to the sky. The photographer then makes a pan to the north over the tops of the buildings from Bryant Park, south of 42nd Street (behind the New York Public Library) up 6th Avenue to the Hippodrome Theatre at 43rd Street. A marquee on the theater reads "A Yankee Circus On Mars." The camera continues to rotate toward 44th and 45th Streets between 6th and 7th Avenues, until coming to rest looking directly north up Times Square to 46th Street, where Broadway (left) and 7th Avenue (right) diverge again.
FilmOnline
1905