Spend three minutes in 1939 New York

It is the summer of 1939.

“The Batman” has recently made his first comic book appearance. The New York World’s Fair is underway and includes the First World Science Fiction Convention.

The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown is officially dedicated, while New York Yankee Lou Gehrig retires for health reasons and becomes an early inductee.

Tourism is strong as ever in New York City. French tourist Jean Vivier shoots the following in 16mm Kodachrome.


(Video source: 1939 New York in HD ColorUnknownWW2InColor, via Yahoo News)

An ocean away, events that will lead to World War II and forever change millions of lives are brewing.

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I have never been to New York, though it is on my “someday” list. Despite that, I found this 74-year-old vacation movie fascinating. What an amazing cross-section of people and activities that Vivier manages to capture in just less than three minutes of footage.

The sidewalks are jam-packed, while shiny new late-1930s-model cars fill the streets. Though the actual film is silent, it is so full of action that imagining all of the sounds is easy.

Horns honking. Water splashing. Children laughing.

And the heat. The movie is so crisp, so realistic, you can even imagine baking under that irrepressible sun.

The next time you are filming videos or snapping photographs, just remember that people in the year 2087 might someday look at your work as a glimpse back at how we lived in 2013. What will they see?

[Update: One of the risks of writing a post about a YouTube video is there is always a chance someone will take it down. Like 1939, this video is now gone with the wind.]