Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Union Square: Part 2

video
Here as a backdrop I used silent films made by the Edison studios between 1899-1903
They are available from the library of congress web site
Descriptions:
Using time-lapse photography, the film shows the demolition of the famous Star Theatre. Judging from the various exposures, the work must have gone on for a period of approximately thirty days. The theater opened in 1861 as "Wallack's Theatre," and was re-christened the "Star" in 1883. It was well known for it's excellent productions, and a number of celebrated actors and actresses worked there, among them Ellen Terry. The celebrated English actor Henry Irving made his first stage appearance in America at the Star. Photographed in 1901. Location: Broadway and 13th Street, New York, N.Y.

The film shows members of "New York's Finest" parading at a crowded Union Square. There are members of the Bicycle Squad, mounted horses, and two regimental marching bands. At the time of filming, the New York City Police Department was still recovering from the corruption scandals of the early 1890's that had severely tarnished the reputation of the department. A State Senate appointed group known as the Lexow Committee investigated the department and issued a scathing report that detailed serious criminal activity within the department. In 1895, public opinion was so low that the annual parade wasn't held. That same year, Theodore Roosevelt was appointed president of the Police Board, and he is credited with initiating strict and effective reform measures that helped restore the public's confidence in the police.

From the Edison Company catalog: NEW YORK POLICE PARADE. Unbuilding [code for telegraphic orders]. An excellent view of "The Finest," on their annual parade and inspection, June 1, 1899. The head of the column is just turning into 14th Street from Broadway, the Morton House forming part of the background. Crowds line both sides of the cable car tracks, falling back as the band heading the first division swings around Dead Man's Curve and passes the camera. Chief Devery makes a fine showing, as also do his men, with their white gloves and helmets, shining buttons and spick and span appearance in general.

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