New York Filmed in 1929 with Sound

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Fascinating. Great to see a Gold-diggers’ on at the cinema. I was struck, though, with the realisation, that all of those people, walking around in their hats and coats, busy with their business, are all dead.


one word strikes me in watching both videos…white. They are both awfully white.


As a resident of the city, I seriously question the veracity of this claim (the claim about using “Manhattan”, not about being in NYC this past weekend [I’ll take your word for it!]). I know you lived there a long time—surely somebody must have said it once or twice!


I just ask for a whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters. :wink:


Don’t forget the Maraschino!


Where are all the women?


I can’t say for certain that the term “Manhattan” was never uttered in my presence, but it was certainly the general practice to say “New York.” I grew up in Queens, and people said, “I’m going into the City today” or “I’m going into New York today.” Honestly, I cannot remember anyone saying, “I’m going into Manhattan.”

And, of course, the people who live in Manhattan (!) do not consider the other four boroughs to be part of New York City. :slight_smile:


This is true.

Also there’s the fact that when you address something, an address in Manhattan is “New York, New York” but the other boroughs are, “Brooklyn, NY” or whatever… Historically Manhattan was New York City, and the other boroughs were added later.


Dat Smog.


What is surprising about the two videos below, which were apparently filmed with a camera on the back of a flatbed truck while driving around, is how crowded the city was even in 1929

Given that the cameraman is trying to film scenes with noise (middle of Broadway near Times Square, train stations, under overhead trains, parades…) this should be no surprise.

The scene from up atop the Chrysler building, which is towards the end of the second clip, shows a fairly empty streetscape below…

If you want some wonderful B&W footage of NYC at this time, watch Harold Lloyd’s film Speedy* (which is also wonderful fun as a film)

*The full movie (I think) is here


If you’re like me, they’re interesting as a window to the past but otherwise nothing that held my attention beyond an occasional glance after the novelty wore off. Maybe you didn’t watch to the end, but that’s when it actually got good.
Go to the 12 minute mark in the bottom video. The plasterers’ union is working on what will become the Chrysler Building right up to the edge with no walls, the camera angle has the city below in the shot! Then there are panoramas of the buildings on Wall St., then over to Battery Park and the harbor with Lady Liberty in the background. The earlier footage was interesting in aggregate and in bits here and there, but stick around for the end!


not just any Whiskey…bourbon. good bourbon.

Chill the glass. Gentle shake on the mixed alcohol in the shaker. and use Luxardo cherries and fluid.

cc @euansmith


Manhattan used to be much more densely populated than it is now. Its population has fallen about 25 percent, and average population density by nearly 50 percent, since 1910.

Probably more people work there now, but they mostly commute in.


I wonder how they did it. In the early days of sound cinema, the camera had to be kept in a sound proof booth to keep camera noise off the soundtrack. Was something similar done here? Is the sound actually post-dubbed?

Isn’t it rain?

i personally find Luxardo too thick, syrupy and sweet for my tastes. i use Badabing these days.

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Walt Whitman, 1819 - 1892

I was asking for something specific and perfect for my city,
Whereupon lo! upsprang the aboriginal name.

Now I see what there is in a name, a word, liquid, sane,
unruly, musical, self-sufficient,
I see that the word of my city is that word from of old,
Because I see that word nested in nests of water-bays,
Rich, hemm’d thick all around with sailships and
steamships, an island sixteen miles long, solid-founded,
Numberless crowded streets, high growths of iron, slender,
strong, light, splendidly uprising toward clear skies,
Tides swift and ample, well-loved by me, toward sundown,
The flowing sea-currents, the little islands, larger adjoining
islands, the heights, the villas,
The countless masts, the white shore-steamers, the lighters,
the ferry-boats, the black sea-steamers well-model’d,
The down-town streets, the jobbers’ houses of business, the
houses of business of the ship-merchants and money-
brokers, the river-streets,
Immigrants arriving, fifteen or twenty thousand in a week,
The carts hauling goods, the manly race of drivers of horses,
the brown-faced sailors,
The summer air, the bright sun shining, and the sailing
clouds aloft,
The winter snows, the sleigh-bells, the broken ice in the
river, passing along up or down with the flood-tide or
The mechanics of the city, the masters, well-form’d,
beautiful-faced, looking you straight in the eyes,
Trottoirs throng’d, vehicles, Broadway, the women, the
shops and shows,
A million people–manners free and superb–open voices–
hospitality–the most courageous and friendly young
City of hurried and sparkling waters! city of spires and masts!
City nested in bays! my city!


This crosses my mind, too, during these clips and when I look at high school graduating class pictures from a century ago. How many lives lived, or not, most have stories we’ll never know, performances that have run their time and are now done.

This was especially remarkable because from all those marquee signs that went by in the first clip, with those performers’ names in big letters, I paused the clip and looked them up. Many of their wikipedia pages had their pictures from 1929, when this here clip was shot. Of course, all those performers are long gone, one of whom I noticed was with us until 1999.

And yeah, Winnie Lightner, the gold digger of Broadway, that was the first name I looked up. Never heard of her or any of them before today, but they got a little bit more exposure today as a result of this post. Hello from the future!


I’ll have to give those a try. I prefer an old fashioned, so 1 bar spoon of the luxardo juice is perfect for mixing with bar spoon of hot water and the sugar cube.

Another option I do away from Luxardo or Maraschino is I get a bag of dried cherries and soak them in a mason jar with a fairly inexpensive rye (overholdt works well). The liquor that comes from those is perfect to use in OF’s and Manhattans, and the those cherries are much better garnish if you desire that sort of thing. I more prefer just an orange twist in either drink.