San Francisco traffic, 1900

California Street, San Francisco, 1900.  Wikimedia Commons.
California Street, San Francisco, 1900. Wikimedia Commons.

Ever wonder what it was like to navigate a city street back in 1900? In researching my fourth book (tentatively titled Unseemly Haste, due out in the fall), I ran across this little gem: a video of San Francisco in 1900.

There’s very little information on the video itself, but it looks like it was filmed while aboard a cable car. The street is a chaotic mix of pedestrians, bicyclists, horse-drawn vehicles, motorized cars, and cable cars, dodging each other, weaving around obstacles…and there some near misses. It reminds me a bit of the M Street corridor in Georgetown, LOL. Definitely not for the faint of heart.

What’s the worst traffic you’ve ever dealt with, whatever your mode of travel? I’d love to hear from you.

If you enjoy vintage video, you may want to check out another post of mine from a few years ago: Coney Island, 1905, which features a group of boarding-school girls from Miss Knapp’s Select School. Looks like the girls had a fun outing!

Until next time,


8 people like this post.

10 thoughts on “San Francisco traffic, 1900”

  1. Amy KennedyAmy Kennedy

    Yikes! But in a “I can’t look away” kind of way. At least now (most) people cross at/with a light–I wonder how many people were injured or killed in street incidents? And the kids just hanging on to the car and weaving in and out in front of the cable car…

  2. Rhonda HopkinsRhonda Hopkins

    Wow! That’s kind of crazy and scary. Cool video though. Thanks for sharing!

  3. PatriciaPatricia

    That’s pretty much how San Francisco still is today, only faster.

    Fun stuff, Kathy. Good luck on the new book.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  4. Sharla RaeSharla Rae

    Always love your posts. I’ve been wanting to write a turn of the century historical as I think it would be so fun. There were so many changes going on then.

  5. Karen McFarlandKaren McFarland

    I’ve seen that video before and it always makes me cringe! I don’t know how the gentlemen that cleaned up after the horses weren’t killed in the line of duty. What an awful job. Yet, just as Patricia brought out, it’s the same today. Especially on the streets that host the cable cars. And if there a march? Forgetaboutit! Fascinating time period. Have fun! 🙂


Comments are closed