A Trip Down Market Street - a 1907 Newspaper Article
Collected by Joe Thompson

This article, from The San Francisco Call, Saturday, April 20, 1907, just a year after the Earthquake and Fire, tells about what may have been the world premiere of the movie now know as "A Trip Down Market Street". The film was shot from the front of a United Railroads cable car as it ran down Market Street towards the Ferry Building. It makes one appreciate current traffic laws. What remains of the film is available for download from the Library of Congress' American Memory Project

A newly restored version of the film was projected on the top floors of the new tallest building in San Francisco, the Salesforce Tower on 06- and 07-December-2018.

From the San Francisco Call / Saturday, April 20, 1907. Page 9.


Record-Breaking Applause and Tears Are Caused by Kinetoscope

A view of Market street before the fire, from the front of a cable car traveling from Castro street to the ferries, was shown by the moving picture machine at the Orpheum theater Thursday night and won the greatest applause that the Orpheum has known since its reopening, the enthusiasm being mingled with tears of many in the audience who knew and loved the busy thoroughfare depicted on the screen before them.

The picture was presented during the intermission in the middle of the performance, and was intended merely as a special feature in recognition of the anniversary of the fire. But while hearty cheers greeted the familiar scenes as they followed one after the other, the pathos of the ravages of the great fire touched many hearts and there were tears in the eyes of scores of onlookers.

Every well known building and corner shown in the moving picture won applause, but the Palace hotel, the Sutter street horsecar seen crossing the city's main artery at the Sutter junction and the final view up Market street were greeted with outbursts of hand clapping which broke the Orpheum record for plaudits.

The film for the picture was taken just prior to the fire and had never been shown before. It was intended to use it only once, Thursday night, but the demands made yesterday for a repetition caused the managers of the theater to decide to continue the picture at every performance this week and next.

The Orpheum Theater was at a temporary post-Earthquake and Fire location on Ellis Street near Fillmore.

Orpheum ad
An advertisement from the 18-April-1907 San Francisco Call describes the premier of this movie: "MOTION PICTURES SHOWING THE SAN FRANCISCO OF THE PAST".

The film as it exists today starts near Market and Grove. I think the writer has confused the Sutter Street horse car, seen on the outbound tracks, with the California Street horse car, seen crossing the tracks and heading towards the Ferry Building.

The Library of Congress says it feels the film was shot in early September, 1905, but doesn't have any documentary evidence.

Trip Down Market #5
Two outbound Market Street cable cars are visible in this view. The tower of the Ferry Building is in the background.

Trip Down Market #6
The Sutter Street horse car is seen next to two outbound Market Street cable cars.

Trip Down Market #1 Trip Down Market #2
Trip Down Market #3 Trip Down Market #4

Michael Houlihan's California Street horse car crosses the cable car tracks and heads towards the Ferry Building.

Trip Down Market #7
A Sacramento/Clay car is seen as the Market Street car rotates on the powered turntable at the end of its trip.

Trip Down Market #8
The "final view up Market street" after the turntable finished rotating.

In 2005, San Francisco filmmaker Melinda Stone produced a follow-up: "A Trip Down Market Street 1905/2005". She mounted a 1922 Bell and Howell movie camera on the front of 1923 center cab work motor C-1, and filmed another trip down Market Street.

On 17-October-2010, 60 Minutes, the CBS news magazine, ran a report about the movie. The piece started with a trip down Market street on 1895 electric streetcar 578. Rick Laubscher of the Market Street Railway talked about rails on Market Street. The story discusses Dave Kiehn's work which proved that the movie was shot in 1906, rather than 1905 as had been commonly believed, and may have been shot in April, close to the 18th.

This reminded me that I have been meaning to post an additional article that found, about the Miles Brothers seeking permission to make the movie.

From the San Francisco Call / Thursday, March 29, 1906. Page 7.


Miles Brothers Would Show Moving Pictures in the East.

Miles Brothers yesterday asked permission of the United Railroads for the use of a street car one day this week in order to obtain moving pictures of Market street. It is the purpose of the picture men to exhibit these pictures throughout the eastern cities of the United States and also throughout Europe. General Manager Chapman of the United Railroads took the matter under advisement with a promise to give his answer soon.

Miles Brothers declare that the pictures they -desire to take will greatly benefit San Francisco in particular and California as a whole. They wish to take pictures of other cities on the coast as well and to show them. They have tried to take them from the front end of an automobile but the vibratory motion is so severe that the films are blurred and so print indistinctly.

Miles Brothers say that San Francisco has been painted by writers as a beautiful city, but that few pictures of its beauties have circulated over the world. They say that the few pictures now on exhibition are mostly of Chinatown and of the Italian quarter. Market street is, they say, one of the greatest streets in the world, and they propose to have the world learn of its magnificence.

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Last updated 01-December-2018