Vintage Film Footage of New York City From as Early as 1896 — and…

In fact, I shot a video of my grandparents watching that video tape of those old films for the first time some years ago. Both of my grandparents are since deceased…

…so when I found that video, I transferred it to a DVD disc and watched it. The footage was from 1960 — years before I was born — and it was in color, which was unusual for home movies at that time due to color movie film being expensive. Unfortunately, there was no sound.

Having been born and raised in Brooklyn, I enjoyed the parts of the movie where sound was not necessary as I saw familiar neighborhoods in Brooklyn, recognizing the streets and the elevated subway — I know, that is an oxymoron — lines which plied through parts of that populous borough. I saw stores which no longer exist; old logos of existing companies; bygone fashions of what people wore at that time; and shiny huge cars with chrome and fins which any vintage automobile collector these days would salivate to have…

…so you can imagine how interested I was when Adam of Point Me to the Plane posted this article pertaining to this video of vintage film footage of New York dating back to as early as 1896.

“This is pretty incredible,” wrote Adam pertaining to what is arguably the oldest footage of New York City — including parts of Brooklyn, which was a true bonus for me — and updated with markers from the present day to show as closely as possible where the camera was located.

By the way, the video is arguably incorrect: Bergen Beach — located in the southeastern area of Brooklyn — is not near Coney Island.

“When you’re done checking out the video,” continued Adam, “see the list of these must visit NYC locations which are all 100 years or older and still in business.” I did click on that link; and although there are some establishments in New York which qualified to be on the list but were missing from it — such as Katz Delicatessen…

Photograph ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

…I learned about some places which I would like to visit when I return to New York in the future.

There is one more location which will be added to the list next year of those companies which have been continuously in business for at least 100 years…

Photograph ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

…Nathan’s Famous frankfurters in Coney Island.

While I was still living in Brooklyn, I had purchased a book comparing photographs of New York from years gone by to the present day; and now there are videos and photographs which have a similar theme — even though they are not related to that book, which I still have in my possession.

Here is one of those videos.

The reason why I like comparing photographs and footage of New York from years ago with those from recent years is because I find it amazing how much things have changed due to progress — and despite that, yet how much still remains the same. The Flatiron Building on that famous sharp corner of Fifth Avenue and Broadway on the south side of East 23 Street is an excellent example: included in the aforementioned video are photographs of that iconic structure from 1902 and 2014. The building itself has not changed — as if time stood still — yet the surrounding area has completely changed over the years…

…which means that the Flatiron Building is only one of many areas of New York where you can “go back in time” to see what people in the 19th and 20th — and sometimes 18th — centuries saw.

Having been to Egypt recently, it is easy to shrug off seeing something from as many as 300 years ago when one can see and touch — and even go inside — structures from thousands of years ago; plus, there are many places around the world which structures manufactured and built by man exist today which have been around for hundreds or thousands of years. Malta is one of those places, where I had visited some of the oldest known man-made structures — many of which are ruins today…

…but the development of cities on the North American continent is relatively new to those from much of the rest of the world; and New York is my original home. It is one of my favorite cities in the world of which there is plenty to explore; and I am proud to be from New York — including and especially Brooklyn.

I hope that you enjoy the videos and photographs; and if you have any suggestions for other videos and photographs which you believe should be highlighted — New York does not necessarily need to be the topic — please post them in the Comments section below…

…and if you have some personal experiences of New York which you would like to share, I am interested in reading those as well.

All photographs ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

6 thoughts on “Vintage Film Footage of New York City From as Early as 1896 — and…”

  1. willy says:

    Awesome! Born and raised in East Flatbush (then the move out to LI). I think I saw my great grandmother in those clips.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I was born and raised not far from you, willy

      …and if you saw your great grandmother in those clips, that would be incredibly cool.

      I know it would not be easy to do; but is there any way you can confirm that?

      1. willy says:

        Brian, that was an ever so slightly tongue in cheek comment. The ancestors were mostly Queens people; Middle Village, Jackson Heights, etc. Back when there were still farms there.

        1. Brian Cohen says:

          Darn! I was hoping that it was true, willy.

          I still think that would have been so cool…

          …and where I lived in Brooklyn was not far from Queens…

  2. ES says:

    Thanks, loved the footage and sent it to others who like me hail from NYC!

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I am glad that you enjoyed it, ES!

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