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Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Film - Johnstown - Turn of the Century - 1940's and 1950's

Today I will be showing you the oldest known bit of film on Johnstown (that I know of) mixed in with some shots from the 1940's and 50's. The early mill stuff and downtown (Swank Building) is from around 1903 or so. The only reason the older stuff exists is because it was printed from a paper negative. At the Turn of the Century - saving your film to paper strips was not only the cheapest way to send it to Washington DC to get a copyright - but the paper has managed to hold up thru out the years much better than the actual film stock. From a decomposing angle and from an archive source since alot of the early stuff  was melted down for the silver content - besides the added danger that it could go up in smoke anytime because it was made of Nitrate.

I believe that the early mill and downtown was shot around the same time and by the same crew that shot a short on Westinghouse Industries in Pittsburgh. Film companies would go from town to town - shoot a reel of film - showing people at work or in their daily lives  - set up a tent then to show the film to the general public. Because even back then - people liked to see themselves on the screen.

Broad Street - Cambria City - 1940's

Some of you have already seen this picture - but this is a high resolution scan - courtesy of JAHA. This gives a very rare glance at how McConcaughy side of Broad Street used to look. The building with the bread sign on the left the boarding house my great-grandfather Joseph Hanzel stayed at along with his brother John when they first came to Johnstown at the turn of the century. A few doors down on the same side was Holtzman's Department Store. Making your way up towards Morrellville were shops of all shapes and sizes.

The present location is the intersection of Broad Street and Power Street. The present day U-haul and the old Bestform Plant are now located in the area on the left hand side.