Thursday, March 3, 2011
Dorothy Gale in San Francisco
I ran across an unusual bit of primary research today and thought, "I should tell Eric about this." But then I thought, "Gosh, just share it with everyone!" So here it is.
It's a ten-minute film photographed from a vehicle traveling down Market Street in San Francisco just six days before the infamous 1906 earthquake. Dorothy Gale is caught in that quake in the opening pages of Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz at 5:18 AM Wednesday, April 18. She and Uncle Henry had recently returned to the United States from Australia, and they've been sight-seeing in San Francisco for a few days before Uncle Henry's visit to relatives on Hugson's ranch. So this film shows San Francisco exactly as it appeared to Dorothy. She would have been there when this footage was shot.
I think it's fascinating to see the little kids playing, see how the automobiles are beginning to outnumber the carriages, see the actual San Francisco that Dorothy would have seen. It is also a San Francisco that would be destroyed by earthquake and fire six days after this was filmed.
Imagine Dorothy has just found a stray kitten. She decides she would like to keep it. An old rattle-trap wagon comes lumbering past Dorothy and Uncle Henry on Market Street and Dorothy says, "Eureka? That's a funny name for a town, isn't it, Uncle Henry."
Uncle Henry explains that "Eureka" means "I found it."
"Well," says Dorothy, "I just found my kitten! I'll name her Eureka."
The film was shot on April 12, 1906, six days before the earthquake on April 18th. You can read a bit more about it by clicking here. The video link below is to the best restored version of the film I've seen online. Turn your speakers off to avoid the weird new-age soundtrack.
Now sit back and enjoy ten minutes of Dorothy Gale's San Francisco.