Tour NYC's Lower East Side in a 1940s Archival Film

"Anyone can get a taste of traveling around the world in the one place where the world's nations sit side by side!" 

More

From the Prelinger Archives comes a remarkable promotional short for New York, "the town where," according to the narrator, "east meets west amidst the babble of a hundred tongues.” The film, which features shots of various ethnic enclaves in the Lower East Side and Chinatown, highlights changing immigration patterns in the 20th-century United States.

Following the opening of Ellis Island in 1892, African Americans were rapidly displaced by incoming Chinese, Irish, Italian, Polish, and Puerto Rican workers and their families in select pockets around the city. The film’s narrator eagerly depicts downtown New York as the quintessential melting pot, and though the script is a bit cheesy, it provides a fascinating window into the city at the time. From Chinese children playing jump rope in the street to their Puerto Rican counterparts enjoying a game of baseball, everyone’s a Yankee. As the narrator says, you can find “all this is New York City, where you can make a trip around the world in the shadows of the skyscrapers.”

For more films from the Prelinger Archive, visit http://www.archive.org/details/prelinger.

Jump to comments

Alessandra Ram is a former writer and producer for The Atlantic Video Channel. Her work has also appeared in Foreign Policy.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

This Short Film Skewers Hollywood, Probably Predicts Disney's Next Hit

A studio executive concocts an animated blockbuster. Who cares about the story?


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A Short Film That Skewers Hollywood

A studio executive concocts an animated blockbuster. Who cares about the story?

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Video

What Is a Sandwich?

We're overthinking sandwiches, so you don't have to.

Video

How Will Climate Change Affect Cities?

Urban planners and environmentalists predict the future of city life.

Video

The Inner Life of a Drag Queen

A short documentary about cross-dressing, masculinity, identity, and performance

Video

Let's Talk About Not Smoking

Why does smoking maintain its allure? James Hamblin seeks the wisdom of a cool person.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Video

Just In