Skip to main content

A Trip Down Market Street 1905/2005

A Trip Down Market Street 1905/2005
An Outdoor Centennial Celebration sponsored by the Exploratorium
In Collaboration with the San Francisco Arts Commission
Music by Beth Custer Ensemble/New Films by Bay Area Filmmakers
Across from Ferry Building, September 24 at 7:30pm. Free

In September 1905, a pioneer filmmaker named Jack Kuttner mounted a camera on the front of a trolley and filmed the one-and-a-half mile ride from the foot of Twin Peaks northeastward toward the Ferry Building.

The film, known as A Trip Down Market Street, offers a remarkable picture of life in the city before the 1906 earthquake and before the advent of modern appurtenances such as stoplights and crosswalks. In recognition of the 100th anniversary of the film, the Exploratorium is mounting a major celebration of San Francisco’s urban vitality past and present.

In collaboration with the San Francisco Arts Commission, the Exploratorium presents a free outdoor celebration A Trip Down Market Street 1905/2005 on Saturday night, September 24 at 7:30pm. It includes an outdoor screening of the Exploratorium’s print of the historical film, and the outdoor screening of a new film, A Trip Down Market Street 2005 by Bay Area filmmakers Melinda Stone and Sprague Anderson. The celebration also includes the screening of five
additional newly commissioned Market Street films, created by Bay Area filmmakers, and supported by the San Francisco Arts Commission’s Art on Market Street Program. The celebration will also feature a newly commissioned score by composer/performer Beth Custer, which will be shown with the Market Street films, and performed by the Beth Custer Ensemble. The evening will also be punctuated by short historical films that mark the progress on Market Street from 1905-2005, including another trip down Market Street following the devastation of the 1906 earthquake.

In A Trip Down Market Street 1905, people hurry along the sidewalks and make their way across the street. Horses, wagons, trolleys, motorcars, and pedestrians dodge one another and compete for space. Landmark structures still standing – The Flood Building, the Monadnock Building, and the Humboldt Bank – are visible along the way. And the Ferry Building, which begins as a thin spindle at the center of the frame, eventually rises to tower over the surrounding city as the trolley car approaches its base. The eight-minute film from 1905 has been shown in the Exploratorium’s film program since the 1970s, and is a longtime favorite of the museum’s visitors. The film is about San Francisco, but it is also a great document of urban life, and a historical record of one of the world’s great streets.

For making A Trip Down Market Street 2005, filmmaker Melinda Stone will be shooting with a high definition digital video camera while filmmaker Sprague Anderson will be shooting with a 35 mm hand crank camera. Stone recently uncovered the name of the filmmaker for the original 1905 film. Until now, the filmmaker had been unknown.

In addition to the new A Trip Down Market Street 2005 by Melinda Stone and Sprague Anderson, the other new, experimental films about experiences on Market Street have been commissioned from filmmakers Tomonari Nishikawa, Kerry Laitala, Ken Paul Rosenthal, Katherine McInnis, and Rachel Manera. Ambient sound mixes provided by David Cerf will precede the film screenings.

Exploratorium Film Program Director Liz Keim is coordinating the project in collaboration with the San Francisco Arts Commission and with filmmaker and public artist Melinda Stone, who is a Professor of Media at University of San Francisco. This event is sponsored by the Exploratorium and made possible with the support of the San Francisco Arts Commission’s Cultural Equity Program, the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation, the Fleishhacker Foundation, and the University of San Francisco.

This is a co-presentation with Film Arts Foundation and Market Street Railway. Special thanks to Dick Bartell, Fox Movietone, and SF MUNI.

About the Exploratorium

Exploratorium logo

The Exploratorium is a portal to the astonishing scientific phenomena that animate our world and shape our actions. We create extraordinary learning experiences that ignite curiosity, upend perceptions, and inspire brave leaps forward. Since 1969, the Exploratorium’s museum in San Francisco has been home to a renowned collection of exhibits that draw together science, art, and human perception, and that have changed the way science is taught. Our award-winning programs provide a forum for the public to engage with artists, scientists, policymakers, educators, and tinkerers to explore the world around them. We celebrate diversity of thought, inspired investigation, and collaboration across all boundaries.

Press Office