The New England Historical Society released one of the older motion pictures ever filmed in Boston, providing a view of the city’s streets from a streetcar early this month.
Roxbury native G.W. “Billy” Bitzer shot “Seeing Boston By Streetcar” in 1903, a silent black-and-white film that shows horse-drawn carriages and early electric streetcars traveling along Boylston Street to Copley Square.
Bitzer is also credited with developing early cinema tricks and techniques, like the fadeout, the soft focus, and the close-up.
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Landmarks like Jordan Marsh, the Boston Public Library, the Old South Church, elevated rail lines are easily recognizable amongst the bustling streets.
The eight-minute-long film was first shown in 1906 at the Theatre Comique, Boston’s first movie theatre, located on Tremont Row in Scollay Square.
The streetcars of Boston predated the motion picture by 14 years, when the first line from Boston to Brookline via Beacon Street opened on January 5, 1889.