Sometimes, on a Friday, all you want is to look at something that is just plain wonderful. To that end, I submit this film, shot from a Barcelona streetcar back in 1908.
It’s a delightful artifact of a time when streets functioned very differently than they do today — with bicycles, pedestrians, horsedrawn carriages, trams, and the occasional car moving along together in a pattern that is far more organic than mechanized.
People swoop and dash and dodge and meander through the frame, looking back at the camera operator with an amused expression or a friendly smile every now and then. They probably couldn’t imagine the mechanized, highly structured streets of today. One thing you don’t see on these long-vanished faces is fear.
Mike Lydon of the Street Plans Collaborative just posted the film on Pattern Cities, and he has some interesting thoughts about what it reveals:
[S]urely the streets of the 1900′s were not entirely crash-free, or as romantic as this film and its whimsical music make them out to be. Yet, the inherent complexity — the organized chaos of streetcars, pedestrians, horse-drawn carriages, and yes, motorists all mixing together — is instructive and should make any urbanist long for a time when the tyranny of the automobile didn’t dominate the project of city building.
Watch and enjoy.