clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

A Tourist's 1939 Footage of New York City Has Been Unearthed

New, 44 comments

An amateur film shot in 1939 by French tourist Jean Vivier has hit the interwebs, with the background music of a lone, woeful trumpeter sax added in 2013. Here now, some things we learned from Vivier's pans of street scenes and landmarks in Midtown, Harlem, and Chinatown. The buses were green and beige, emblazoned with the motto "Welcome to New York." (Visitors from Europe during wartime probably didn't expect, but likely appreciated, the friendly gesture.) The sidewalks were just as crowded, but men and women alike wore more hats. Oh my gosh, lady with a cigarette. People hung out on stoops, and more ships docked at the Hudson's still-intact piers. Envy alert: Pina coladas cost five cents from a streetside bar; potatoes were five pounds for 10 cents from a streetside stall. Tour buses were double-decker, and they were probably as much of a road-blocking frustration then as now. The rooftop observation deck at 30 Rock was new and cool. Ah, and it was the fountain at Columbus Circle Washington Square where wee ones went to shed their clothes and splash around on a hot day. Noted.
· 1939 New York in HD Color?Looks Like Filmed Yesterday! [YouTube via and Queens Crap]
· All Video Interludes [Curbed]