23 July 2009

Edison (polymath) at the Sutro baths

Have been looking for an excuse to post this film of the Sutro Baths, San Francisco, made by Thomas Edison in 1897. Think of it. This is what was going on in California, whilst in England the Victorians were shrouding their table legs in petticoats.

When I saw the film (one of two) I wasn't sure that moving picture technology dated back that far. Also doubted whether Edison could have been the man behind the camera. But I checked sources (a la Howard Rheingold) and the films appear to be authentic ('crap detection' is my excuse for posting). Have now corrected my English historical parochialism: Edison's inventions extended way beyond things electrical (Wikipedia lists over 1000 patents) and included 'Photographic film for moving picture machines.'

I've always loved the site of the Sutro baths. Having burned down in the 1960s they're now an evocative shell on the edge of the Pacific. Clearly in their heyday they weren't so haunting.

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