14 December 2012

London traffic (1932)

Via British Paintings.


  1. This is not the music I would have chosen. I would have gone with Yakety Sax, or maybe something from Koyaanisqatsi.

  2. I think it's interesting that there are no red lights or cross walks, it's still in the grey area of time when people remembered roads that were for walking.

  3. Holy cow. How did they not have a wreck every minute?

    1. I think it's a lot like Chinese roads I've seen. Either nobody follows the rules or everybody follows the rules - but uniformity is important. So everyone in this knows the rule is that there are no rules; you assume the other drives won't follow lanes or stop lights or shoulder checks and you drive accordingly.

  4. I agree - sweet music for a really dangerous situation. When I visited friends in Kampala, Uganda, traffic was like that, and the traffic accidents were frequent and severe.

    The music sounds like this is a quaint and lovely memory. But honestly, that film makes me really glad I didn't live back then.

  5. It reminds me of when I was walking in Suzhou and Hangzhou (China) in the mid-1980s (before automobiles there), and the streets were a sea of bicycles. I despaired of being able to get across, but was advised to just step off the curb and walk across at a slow - and unchanging - pace, and the bicycles would adjust around me.

    And it was true. It reminded me of a school of minnows flowing around an aquatic plant.

    I sort of doubt that similar skill and/or courtesy would have been present in this London street scene, however.

  6. Nice views of Trafalgar Square, with views down Northumberland Avenue! Given the vantage (the large lion is the main giveaway), the camera was likely set up in the Southeast corner of Canada House, which overlooks Trafalgar Square. The last scene is of the National Gallery, hidden by a row of trees that are no longer there...

    The interesting things about this shot: a) the traffic appears to be one-way, and indeed reverse to what the current traffic pattern is (there is now a roundabout that has traffic going clockwise around it, such that vehicles travel the opposite direction), b) there are no traffic lines demarcating lanes... adding to the perceived 'organized chaos'


  7. Why can't these old films be slowed down to true speed before they are posted????

  8. I agree, Anonymous; it seems strange they can't be run at the 16 fps rate they were more typically filmed at, once they've been digitized. This would look a lot less frenetic.


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