Time Travel 100 Years With This Colorized Footage of Driving In Detroit

You think driving was better before everyone owned a car? Think again.

byJames Gilboy|
A car narrowly avoid being hit by a truck in 1920s Detroit, Michgan
NASS on YouTube via Internet Archive

Every time any of us are stuck in traffic, we all probably imagine how much better it would've been to drive before everyone had a car. Well, it's not that simple, as revealed by restored footage of 1920s Detroit that shows driving hasn't really changed all that much.

The footage was uploaded to YouTube by NASS, who sourced the clips from the Prelinger Archives via the Internet Archive. The films themselves were captured at various, unspecified points throughout the decade and have been digitized, restored, and augmented with modern tech. Their frame rate has been boosted to 60 frames per second, the resolution has been increased, they've been stabilized, and had artificial color and sound added. Parts of the Motor City are recognizable to today, although we're guessing the First National Building probably didn't originally have a Shake Shack on the ground when it opened in 1922.

While traffic may have moved slower by early cars' performance, traffic is traffic. There are few to no road markings visible so people don't keep to specific lanes, and intersections don't appear well-signed.

Drivers from yesteryear also had to contend with streetcars, more bikes, and probably the occasional horse—most of what we have today, more or less. Also, lots more pedestrians. This was before the auto industry had lobbied to have jaywalking criminalized across the nation; people had just as much of a legal right to use the street as they had for all of history up to that point. (We need to repeal jaywalking laws, but that's a discussion for another time.)

At just over eight minutes of runtime, the video is as close as we'll get to time-traveling in cars without hopping into a Dodge Challenger or struggling to push a DeLorean up to 88 mph. Neat.

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