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. Transportation

    A Horrifying Glimpse Into Your Dystopian Future Transit Commute

    A comic artist’s take on what the future of transportation might really feel like.

  2. A cyclist rides on the bike lane in the Mid Market neighborhood during Bike to Work Day in San Francisco,
    Perspective

    Why Asking for Bike Lanes Isn't Smart

    In the 1930s big auto dreamed up freeways and demanded massive car infrastructure. Micromobility needs its own Futurama—one where cars are marginalized.

  3. Uber Eats worker
    Life

    The Millennial Urban Lifestyle Is About to Get More Expensive

    As WeWork crashes and Uber bleeds cash, the consumer-tech gold rush may be coming to an end.

  4. a photo of the Maryland Renaissance Festival
    Life

    To Hell With Everything: I’m Moving to a Renaissance Festival

    What’s behind the enduring popularity of all these medieval-themed living-history fairs?

  5. Life

    Why Do Instagram Playgrounds Keep Calling Themselves Museums?

    The bustling industry of immersive, Instagram-friendly experiences has put a new spin on the word museum.

×