Sometimes you have to see what you've left behind to have any real appreciation for what you have today.  America was a very different place when this film was shot from the front of a San Francisco cable car.  The film was made just days before the 1906 earthquake that nearly destroyed all of San Francisco. Over 200,000 were left homeless and 3,000 lost their lives.

Times change.  Sometimes for the better, some not so much.  Imagine life with no fast food restaurants, no cell phones, no television or radio.  It was truly a different planet for these folks.  Some of the people you see in this film may well have perished just days later in the quake.  They strolled and rode the streets of San Francisco not knowing how few days they had left in their lives.

Note the mixture of old and new for the time: pedestrians, cable cars, horse drawn carriages and automobiles all occupying the same road.  And not much in the way of traffic laws it would appear.  Consider these facts from California State University:

The average life expectancy was 47 years.

Only 14 percent of the homes had a bathtub.

Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.

A three-minute call from Denver to New York City cost eleven dollars.

There were only 8,000 cars in the U.S. , and only 144 miles of paved roads.

The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.

Alabama, Mississippi, Iowa, and Tennessee were each more heavily populated than California .

With a mere 1.4 million people, California was only the 21st most populous state in the Union

 

To paraphrase an old advertisement-we've come a long, long way baby.