By Rick Prelinger, Prelinger Archives
Internet Archive presents the 11th annual Lost Landscapes of San Francisco show on Monday, January 30 at 7:30 pm. The show will be preceded by a small reception at 6:30 pm, when doors will open.
While this is the seventh year we’ve been presenting this participatory archival film show at the Archive, the story goes back much further. I’ve been collecting historical footage of San Francisco and the Bay Area in earnest since 1993, when we acquired the collection assembled by noted local historian and film preservationist Bert Gould. Since that time I’ve worked to collect film material showing the history of this dynamic and complex region. Much of it is online for free viewing, downloading and reuse as part of the Prelinger Collection.
In 1996 Chris Carlsson and LisaRuth Elliott of Shaping San Francisco encouraged me to put together a little show of historical footage for a talk at CounterPULSE. Shaping SF, by the way, is a highly active local history organization, a longtime partner of the Archive and presently working with IA to digitize a large collection of San Francisco community newspapers. I made a program and planned a narration. The little CounterPULSE dance studio theater filled quickly on show night and we had to turn many away, but the people who were able to get in talked their way through the show, asking questions, identifying places and people and arguing over precise identifications with their neighbors. It was a wonderful event — nothing like the kind of film showing that takes place in church-like silence, but an active, participatory event where people freely shared their knowledge and experience of San Francisco’s history. A new show the year afterward was also jammed. Long Now Foundation stepped up and offered to make this event part of their Seminars on Long-Term Thinking talk series, and in year 3 we moved to the 400-seat Cowell Theater at Fort Mason. This was at once a wonderful experience and an occasion for great chagrin, because at least 250 people who showed up were unable to get in. And so we moved to the beautiful Herbst Theater and in 2011 to the 1410-seat Castro Theatre, where we’ve been every year since then. And for the last eight years we’ve also been putting on Lost Landscapes at Internet Archive. Many great things have happened at the Archive showings: people have recognized their relatives in the films, and many have seen their own streets and neighborhoods as they’ve never before seen them.
Combining favorites from past years with this year’s footage discoveries, the 11th annual feature-length program shows San Francisco’s neighborhoods, infrastructures, celebrations and people from 1906 through the 1970s. This year’s program features new scenes of San Franciscans working, playing, marching and partying during the Great Depression; unseen footage of Seals Stadium and the Cow Palace in the late 1930s; newly-discovered footage of the San Francisco Produce Market in operation; glimpses of neighborhoods now gone; Cathedral Hill on the cusp of redevelopment; 1960s antiwar activism; newly found footage of Tom Mooney’s victory parade after his release from Alcatraz in 1939; Bay ferries in operation; rare images of southeastern San Francisco and the Hunters Point drydock; the 1975 Gay Freedom Day parade; a 1940s-era ode to our fog; and many more newly discovered gems.
As always, the audience makes the soundtrack! This is a great room for the show, as the shape of the Great Room makes it easy for participants to hear one another’s comments. Come prepared to identify places, people and events, to ask questions and to engage in spirited real-time repartee with fellow audience members, and look for hints of San Francisco’s future in the shape of its lost past.
Monday, January 30th
6:30 pm Reception
7:30 pm Interactive Film Program
300 Funston Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94118