Look at this video of NYC 1896=195 and marvel at what’s the same and what’s so different. There’s lots of differences. Everyone is dressed differently of course, there are cable cars and horse and carts everywhere and the only cars in sight are the ones we think of today as historic relics. And the famous Manhattan skyline is basically not there. The forest of tall buildings we associate with NYC had yet to be built.
What’s the same? Well they obviously had the big street parades that are still popular, the Statue of Liberty is there, just 12 years old at the time, and there is a lot of food being sold on the street in the L.E.S. but it’s everyday staples, not the offerings from the smart foot trucks of today.
Overall the streets have a very different feel, very busy but the ratio of people to moving vehicles is different to today. Noticeably the demarcation between cars on the road and people on the sidewalk is just not there, you can see peopleusing the road and simply stepping around cable cars and buggies behaving as though they have as much right to be on the actual road as any vehicles. There must have been some accidents though because those cable cars look quite lethal.
It’s very moving seeing this footage, ghosts from the past except of course they are not ghosts but the living, breathing New Yorkers at the turn of the 20th Century who share a number of 21st Century characteristics. They look as harried, purposeful and busy as current New Yorkers.