San Francisco on Film: Days Before the 1906 Quake
-David Browning, "60 Minutes" Producer / October 17, 2010 12:04 PM
A blog post by David Browning, the producer of this week's "60 Minutes" story about a mysterious reel of film, known as "A Trip Down Market Street:"
My wife, I confess, comes up with some of the best stories I do. Last spring she sent me a link from a friend to a Web site showing a badly scratched version of "A Trip Down Market Street," the remarkable movie made a century ago on San Francisco's main drag. It's a film guaranteed to mesmerize anybody who sees it, even with the scratches: a bygone time brought to life.
I began poking around to find out more about the film and why it was made. San Francisco film archivist Rick Prelinger showed me a digitally restored version he'd commissioned that clears away the cobwebs and the scratches, making the film's impact even more vivid.
And that led to another California archivist, David Kiehn, who took it upon himself to figure out the film's origins. Kiehn's dogged, meticulous detective work established beyond doubt it was filmed just days before the great earthquake and fire in 1906 that nearly destroyed San Francisco.