Amazing Vintage Videos Chronicle Philadelphia As Far Back as the 1940s

vintage philadelphia videos

After you’re done debating whether to go with the “Amaro” or “Sierra” filter on your next #tbt post, we’ve got some ultimate throwback footage for you that requires absolutely #nofilter. The Philadelphia Department of Records (PDR) has released a series of vintage Philly videos that chronicle the city as far back as the 1940s.




The agency decided to publish the videos after uncovering the footage for a documentary team. Jill Rawnsley, a rep from PDR, says the agency will continue to gradually release on its YouTube page some of the 150 (primarily 16 mm) films they found chronicling local moments from the late-1940s up to 1980s. The films range in length from about 5 minutes to an hour, telling the story of a city grappling with physical and social changes with each passing decade.

So far PDR has released 11 videos—showcasing everything from footage of Mayor Frank Rizzo in Germantown to shots of the construction of Veterans stadium. We  pulled a few of our favorites to share below. To see the rest, visit PDR's YouTube page, here.

This is fitting: A clip presented by the Office of Economic Opportunity for the President's Council on Youth Opportunity shows summertime in Philadelphia. No date is given, but it was probably shot in the late-1960s. This one takes a thoughtful turn, profiling a man named Doc Savage. He was a recreation assistant at a neighborhood playground who dedicated his time as a "big brother," teaching local kids skills that he believed would give them a better life.

Narrated by Dick Clark, 1961's "Song of Philadelphia" is an overview of Philadelphia as a primo tourist destination. In one part, Clark touts the Franklin Institute as “a scientific institute with push-button exhibits.”

"Now the latest chapter: as progressive Philadelphia shatters the old, out-moded city ways, and builds a city of tomorrow, today," says narrator Ed McMahon.

No sound here, but this clip shows then Mayor Frank Rizzo making a visit to Germantown.

From the video's description: "No date is available for this film. Ground was broken for Veterans Stadium on October 2, 1967, and the first game in the stadium was played on April 10, 1971. The Phillies beat the Montreal Expos 4-1."

 

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