Welcome to New York, 1911. Youtuber Guy Jones came across some astounding old footage from the New York Museum of Modern Art’s film library. The documentary footage was taken in New York over 100 years ago, three years before the outbreak of World War I. MoMA’s restoration of New York 1911 was derived from the original nitrate print of the film and looked surprisingly good; with added music by Ben Model. But Guy Jones improved upon it by adding ambient sounds, instead of music, to the silent footage and slowing down the speed for a more natural appearance.
Welcome To New York 1911
The documentary travelogue of New York City was made by a team of cameramen with the Swedish company Svenska Biografteatern, who were sent around the world to make pictures of well-known places. (They also filmed at Niagara Falls and in Paris, Monte Carlo, and Venice, although New York 1911 is the only selection in the Museum’s collection.)
Opening and closing with shots of the Statue of Liberty, the film also includes New York Harbor; Battery Park and the John Ericsson statue; the elevated railways at Bowery and Worth Streets; Broadway sights like Grace Church and Mark Cross; the Flatiron Building on Fifth Avenue; and Madison Avenue.
Produced only three years before the outbreak of World War I, the everyday life of the city recorded here—street traffic, people going about their business—has a casual, almost pastoral quality that differs from the modernist perspective of later city-symphony films like Paul Strand and Charles Sheeler’s Manhatta (1921).
Take note of the surprising and remarkably timeless expression of boredom exhibited by a young girl filmed as she was chauffeured along Broadway in the front seat of a convertible limousine:
You can view the Original MoMA restored version of New York 1911 with music by Ben Model. 9 min. at this link: https://youtu.be/2LxxoaIa_uk
And here is the version that has been wonderfully altered by Guy Jones with added ambient sounds and slowed down speed, making you feel as though you are right there:
This project was part of Moving-image works from the MoMA collection.