Here’s some gorgeously colorized footage of lower Broadway and the surrounding environs at the beginning of the last century. Unlike the colorized footage of the city in 1947 that I posted last week, this includes the black and white version of the same footage–it comes after the colorized stuff finishes halfway through the two minute reel. It’s nicer to see the contrast–the old scratchy black and white is the way we’re used to viewing the past, and the appearance of the original B&W after the updated and marvelously realistic colorized material (with added sound) brings home the fact that we really look and act no differently than those who lived one-hundred plus years before us did. (What we wear is an entirely different matter of course). One of the YouTube commenters asks what happened to the horse feces–horses crowded the streets and one assumes they relieved themselves throughout the course of the day. My answer (based on no research at all) is: NOTHING. The streets were full of horseshit and it was up to you, the pedestrian, to keep your eyes open and watch where you were stepping. Animals and humans had to co-exist in New York for many years. It’s hard to remember this now, but up until the 1980s in NYC dogs simply took a shit wherever they wanted to and the owners didn’t have to clean it up. You just watched where you walked. Somehow that didn’t seem odd at the time and the enactment of the so-called ‘pooper-scooper’ law for some reason struck a national funny bone. Johnny Carson mocked the idea of following your dog around and cleaning up after it almost nightly on his show. Well, what the hell did he know? He lived behind gates in Bel Air and probably had nannies to wait on his dogs…


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