Stroll Down San Francisco’s Market Street Like It’s 1899

Chris Cameron February 24, 2011

If you have watched the beautiful, brand new Layar video which we introduced yesterday then you undoubtedly spotted a very interesting layer found only in San Francisco. No? Missed it? Well then be sure to re-watch the video and scrub to around the 48 second mark.

See it now? The layer is called “Historic Market St.” and it was produced by bigBigBang. Using public domain archival footage from 1906 (okay, not exactly 1899, but I was only seven years off), this layer allows you to take a leisurely stroll down Market Street in San Francisco and view video clips showing what the street looked like over 100 years ago.

The video was shot from a camera placed on a street car, providing an interesting point-of-view as the car rolls east down Market Street. The street is filled with people milling about, children running, chaotic horse-drawn buggy traffic jams and these radical new inventions terrorizing the streets - automobiles!

As you walk down Market Street, different segments of the video begin playing, unveiling the early days of the centuries-old street right before your eyes.

The video is part of the archives of Rick Prelinger, a filmmaker and archivist whose massive collection was acquired by the U.S. Library of Congress in 2002. Many of the films of the Prelinger Archives were placed into the public domain by way of the Internet Archive, including the video featured in the Market Street layer.

The Prelinger Archives contain over 60,000 advertising, educational, industrial and amateur films - over 2,000 of which can be accessed on the Internet Archive. Wouldn’t it be great if some enterprising individual decided to gather these films, geotag them and place them in a database connected to a layer? History would come alive on more streets in more cities, not just one main drag in San Francisco. We at Layar think this would be a terrific project.

Looking into the past is one of the truly fascinating and thrilling uses of Augmented Reality as we mentioned not long ago with the use of historic photographs in Layar. Historic Market St. allows you to immerse yourself in the San Francisco of 1906 - just watch out for those darned horse-drawn buggies and crazy drivers!

To view the entire 1906 Market Street film (all 14 minutes of it), be sure to visit the Internet Archive where the video is available to watch or download.

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