Black and white no longer: 1907 footage of Vancouver now with added colour (VIDEO)

Dec 1 2022, 3:01 am

Incredible visual details bring new life to archival footage of downtown Vancouver that dates back to more than a century, during the city’s frontier infancy.

A newly edited video uploaded onto YouTube two weeks ago has already amassed well over 500,000 views — quickly becoming one of the most viewed videos by a YouTuber who specializes in restoring black-and-white vintage street films of cities around the world.

Footage of Vancouver from 1907, sourced from Library and Archives Canada, has been remastered by not only enhancing sharpness and resolution, and removing noise and scratches, but also adding colour with the help of artificial intelligence and even realistic sounds for ambiance.

While the colourization is not historically accurate, it achieves the intent of providing a new way to “time travel” to the streetscapes of the early 1900s. The City of Vancouver was incorporated just 21 years earlier in 1886.

Original footage quality:

1907 vancouver vintage original

Original footage quality of 1907 Vancouver. (Library and Archives Canada)

Remastered footage quality:

1907 vancouver vintage original 2

2022 remastered footage of 1907 Vancouver. (NASS/YouTube)

The nine-minute video begins with 2.5 minutes of downtown Victoria, before transitioning to downtown Vancouver — showing northbound on Granville Street towards Hastings Street, eastbound on Hastings Street from Granville to Carrall streets, westbound on West Cordova Street from Carrall to Cambie streets, southbound on Cambie from West Cordova to West Hastings streets, and westbound along Robson Street.

It would be an understatement to say the city is unrecognizable, but a few landmarks are clearly spotted, including the previous iterations of Hotel Vancouver and the Hudson’s Bay department store, as well as the Carnegie Library.

New: 1907 Vancouver remastered (2022 version):

Original footage of 1907 Vancouver:

The footage shows downtown Vancouver at the turn of the previous century was a bustling area of activity, with ample pedestrians, streetcars, horses, and buggies, and active storefronts.

Of course, the region’s streetcars were discontinued in the years following the Second World War, during the rapid rise of the automobile, and partially replaced with trolley buses.

Downtown Vancouver’s business, shopping, and cultural hub was also originally located in what is now known today as the Downtown Eastside. Over the decades after the Second World War, the Central Business District of downtown gradually transitioned from the Downtown Eastside to the general vicinity of the historic courthouse building, which is now home to the Vancouver Art Gallery.

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