A pina colada was 5 cents and everyone wore hats.

The early 20th century forms a uniquely black-and-white period of world history. Painting as the art of record was dead, and the rise of newspapers, photography, film and TV ensured that the entire era was visually documented as never before, and for the first time in history, without color.

I think that's why it still seems peculiar, thrilling, and special to see color footage from the era. It's easy to imagine the color of a 19th-century Parisian boulevard or a Dutch streetscape. But an American city?

Here is New York in 1939, as vibrant as a any Impressionist painting. A pina colada was five cents and everyone wore hats.

HT Kottke.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A rendering of Quayside, the waterfront development now being planned for Toronto.
    Solutions

    A Big Master Plan for Google's Growing Smart City

    Google sibling company Sidewalk Labs has revealed its master plan for the controversial Quayside waterfront development—and it’s a lot bigger.

  2. Passengers line up for a bullet train at a platform in Tokyo Station.
    Transportation

    The Amazing Psychology of Japanese Train Stations

    The nation’s famed mastery of rail travel has been aided by some subtle behavioral tricks.

  3. Design

    What Cities Can Do to Help Birds and Bees Survive

    Pollinators—the wildlife that shuffle pollen between flowers—are being decimated. But they may still thrive with enough help from urban humans.

  4. Design

    Revisiting Pittsburgh’s Era of Big Plans

    A conversation with the trio of authors behind a new book about the Steel City’s mid-20th-century transformation.

  5. a photo of commuters on Oakland's Bay Bridge.
    Transportation

    Can Waze Convince Commuters to Carpool Again?

    Google’s wayfinding company wants to help drivers and riders find each other on its navigation app—and ease traffic congestion along the way.

×