Check out this three-minute video of a streetcar making its way north on Oxford and east on Hearst shot in 1906. The streets are rudimentary, (in fact Hearst east of Euclid is still a hill, not a street,) there’s not a lot of housing, (except you can see the chancellor’s white house in the segment showing Hearst) and people don’t seem to be in a hurry.

The best part of the video comes towards the end, when the conductors get in a dust-up with a passenger who won’t clear the tracks. A woman in a white cotton lawn dress even gets involved in the fracas.

Warning: the video takes a few minutes to load, but it’s worth it

Hat tip: Steven Donaldson.

Frances Dinkelspiel

Frances Dinkelspiel (co-founder) is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California,...

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  1. I just watched this video again.

    University House (aka the Chancellor’s house) was built in 1911, after this movie. I think that the white building was the Mechanics Building (built 1893, razed 1965).

  2. I shed a tear watching this. I live only two blocks from where the tussle took place (at least it looks like the little plateau where Euclid meets Hearst), and move from Berkeley on Saturday with no idea if I’ll ever reside here again. Its such an amazing place and the video really brought the city’s past to life. Thank you for sharing. I will truly miss this place, but know that I can always visit Berkeleyside if I need a little digital taste of the best home I’ve ever had.

  3.  >>> The fellow was obviously testing a prototype. <<<
    That could be a modern day student wearing an iPod and ignoring the rules of the road. 

    Everything old is new again.

  4. Richard, I went to a Berkeley Breakfast club meeting last week where Steve Donaldson presented a report on the old Key System that had trolleys throughout the east bay. He showed the film as part of his presentation. I enjoyed it so much I decided to post it here.

  5. Thanks, Frances for a fantastic glimpse of the past. What was the source of this extraordinary footage?

  6. The University’s patent applications for 1906 included one for a “bilateral ear plugging device for enhancing domestic tranquility in the home…”. Which would explain the woman’s participation in the fracas.  

  7. Thanks for that, Bill.  I’ve seen this before and wondered if it was staged or documentary.  I can’t really tell from this link – do you have any idea?

  8.  I love this! The glimpse of a motor car at the end — amid the horse and carriages — makes me wonder if it was one of the first cars in the city. Maybe it belonged to the Chancellor?!