The YouTube artist known as NASS has posted another of he/she/they’s wonderful updated urban history videos in which, by use of colorization, frame rate adjustment and an added soundbed, an old piece of documentary film becomes a most convincing and seductive new journey through the past. This is New York City in the early-to-mid-40s and the theme is transportation. We take a drive down a mostly empty FDR drive (was it Sunday morning or was the scarcity of automobiles more common at the time then we might suspect?), we observe bridges from on high, we stop at Penn Station and we get some very lovely, noir-ish views of the East River at dusk and/or dawn. Throw in a couple of El Trains and this footage pretty much covers the range of available transportation of the period. The interior of Penn Station footage is lovely and heartbreaking–how the hell did that masterpiece get torn down? Soldiers scurry through vast and beautiful hall and the well-dressed and highly disciplined everyday denizens of the city seem so much calmer and more civilized than anyone you’d find wandering around the disastrous ‘new’ Penn nowadays. Of particular note is NASS’s addition of period radio shows during the interior-car drive down FDR, carefully altering the soundtrack whenever the driver fiddles with the radio. One churlish YouTube comment noted that the AM signal would have cut out when traveling under bridges/overpasses and such. But why let that ruin your day?


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