There and then

Market Street, San Francisco in 2010 with inset of Market Street, 1905,

My acknowledgments go to the excellent ReadWriteWeb for a piece on websites that mash-up mapping, photos, street views, video and documentary photographs from the past. Among the interesting projects the piece describes where uses can map historical photographs to maps using geo-tags is There and Then, a site created by Kier Clarke which takes historical videos from YouTube and overlays them on a Google Street View of the location today.

There’s not a huge number on the site as yet, but among the examples are a number of the BFI’s Friese-Greene colour travel films from the 1920s mapped to their present day British locations, and some American examples of the Library of Congress, including a 1905 film A Trip Down Market Street Before the Fire, illustrated above (though I don’t think it’s from the LoC copy – note the rolling frame line). The effect is a little odd for this particular example, because the Google image is static while the 1905 film is a travelling shot, but in general it’s a delightful conceit.

It’s not a new idea, however. British film artist Patrick Keiller installed a piece at the BFI Southbank in 2007 which inset archive films within modern-day photographs of the same location, as reported in this Bioscope post.

Patrick Keiller’s combination Carrington Street, Nottingham in 2003, with inset from Tram Ride Through Nottingham, Carrington Street (Mitchell & Kenyon, 1902), from The City of the Future exhibition (2007)

I also recall an exhibition at Brighton museum a while back which showed moving images rom Brighton past and present taken from the same position exhibited next door to one another. The results are invariably haunting and thought-provoking, and it would be good to see a lot more of this sort of imaginative juxtaposition of yesterday and today.

The Market Street example was picked for Bioscope regular Joe Thompson, San Francisco resident and cable car enthusiast, whose own fascinating blog piece on A Trip Down Market Street Before the Fire was reported on by the Bioscope here.

4 responses

  1. Thanks a lot for this post, the information and links within it are extremely helpful. It is amazing just how much film footage of this street has survived over the last 110 years or so.

    Coincidentally, I just wrote a post of a video that has juxtaposed film taken of Market Street just before and after the earthquake of 1906:

    If you have a spare few minutes, any thoughts on the piece would be more than welcome.

  2. Thank you for thinking of me and picking the Market Street example. I likely the irony of the old picture moving and the new one being static. I did keep wishing that the artist could have adjusted it a bit so the old and new tracks would align.

  3. Always enjoyed these old films so interesting seeing the images juxtaposed this way. (Be good to see a side by side video of yesterday and today.)

  4. Indeed it would be interesting to see that – it’s just it is easiest to embed YouTube videos in the middle of the screen, I guess.

    I’ve just come across this amazing site, which invites to you upload your historical photographs, which it then maps to a map of the world and to the present-day google Street View: No videos, but one day some bright spark is going to work out some means of doing so (it’s the multiple shots in different locations that would cause the problems – for pre-digital video, that is. For geo-tagged digital video though…).

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