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. Police cars outside the New York Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City
    Life

    The Great Crime Decline and the Comeback of Cities

    Patrick Sharkey, author of Uneasy Peace, talks to CityLab about how the drop in crime has transformed American cities.

  2. A small accessory dwelling unit—known as an ADU—is attached to an older single-family home in a Portland, Oregon, neighborhood.
    Design

    The Granny Flats Are Coming

    A new book argues that the U.S. is about to see more accessory dwelling units and guides homeowners on how to design and build them.

  3. Design

    These Sneakers Are Your Free Transit Pass

    A new BVG-Adidas collaboration means unlimited travel along Berlin’s public transit network for the rest of 2018. That is if you can find a pair.

  4. Life

    The (Legal) Case Against Bidding Wars Like Amazon's

    The race to win Amazon’s second headquarters has reignited a conversation dating back to the late ‘90s: Should economic incentives be curbed by the federal government? Can they be?

  5. Transportation

    On Paris Metro, Drug Abuse Reaches a Boiling Point

    The transit workers’ union says some stations on Line 12 are too dangerous to stop at. What will the city do?