Special Picture # 171 – Possibly oldest film of New York City

A friend recently sent me this attachment in an email. It may be the oldest surviving footage of New York City in the very early 1900’s. I was fascinated because these were scenes that were probably quite common to my Grandfather, Alfred Duryee Guion, and to his father, Alfred Beck Guion. The following are excerpts from THE REMIMISCENSES OF ALFRED D. GUION written in 1960.

          Papa was quite active in Masonic affairs being eminently successful in this as in most other projects that interested him, was generally very popular, a good entertainer and story teller, prominent in the local Episcopal Church of the Ascension where he was a vestryman.

          He worked for a brokerage firm in Wall Street and was quite conscientious, so much so that in years of panic (today we would call it depression) losses of his clients, as well, I suspect as of his own, worried him to the extent of bringing on heart trouble. He died in his forties (in 1899) from angina pectoris, leaving a heavily mortgaged home and comparatively little life insurance.


         …….. Also I became more and more obsessed with the idea that my duty and responsibility was to get out and earn my own keep instead of continuing to be a burden financially to my mother; thus I would sooner be able to feel I was really helping to support my mother as it was now my duty to do.

          …So I quit in my second year and through a friend in the church started work as an office boy at $4.00 a week in a small life insurance company in New York. After paying for my railroad commutation ticket, carfare from Grand Central to the Nassau Street office and lunches, I don’t imagine my contribution was of material financial aid to the family but at least my conscience was satisfied and I WAS self-supporting.


Enjoy this clip of New York City around the turn of the century.


(You might need to copy and paste the link)

5 thoughts on “Special Picture # 171 – Possibly oldest film of New York City

  1. Reblogged this on Meeting my family and commented:
    Thought I would share this, anyone interested in New York around 1900 will really enjoy it. As I look at it I remember my great grand-aunt Fanny Dinnis, who emigrated from England to New York in 1900. So nice to see what it was like back then.

  2. Mrs. P says:

    Great video link. My kin was also in and out of New York during that time, though the wall street gang would only really establish there a decade later.

  3. What an amazing film! I can appreciate what it means to you, seeing places your grandfather spent time in. My great grand-aunt emigrated from England to New York in 1900 and I am just entranced with these images. Thank you for posting!

    • jaggh53163 says:

      Jackie – I think I know how you feel, knowing that someone in your family was actually there at about that same time and saw the same sights we are able to see. Just amazing.

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