Sep 11th 2010 10:19 am |
The only good thing about the end of Saratoga is the start of the Belmont fall meet. Those who follow Colin’s Ghost know I hold Belmont in high esteem. I have been making an annual trip there for Jockey Club Gold Cup day for a few years now and look forward to doing it again this year.
In the real world, I work in a research library and am always coming across new databases with historical content. This week someone passed me a link to a site called Critical Past that sells copies of motion picture film and images from government agencies (mostly the National Archives). The films are being sold “royalty-free.” In other words, when you buy a copy, you are free to use it as you wish. Best of all, this is the first time most of this content has been made so easily accessible.
Of course, on my first visit to Critical Past, I began by searching “horse racing.” I found a few thousand clips, but one in particular has been on my mind since I watched it early this week. It’s a five-minute film credited to Thomas Edison from opening day at Belmont Park in 1905.
Much of the film contains nothing you haven’t seen before: horses racing around a track (the look and feel of this has changed little over the years). What makes the film unique is the decision by the camera man to turn the camera on the crowd (as seen above); a long sweeping pan shot that captures the hustle and bustle of the crowd on the first ever opening day at Belmont Park.
You can watch the full film here, but I clipped the section with the pan shot. I slowed it down and put it on a loop and encourage you to watch it more than once. I am and will always be captivated by historic images of people — you can’t help but feel humbled. All of the anonymous faces at Belmont over one-hundred years ago, so alive then, but long dead now, enjoying an afternoon at the races just as we do today.
Life is short, get out to the track this weekend.
THANKS FOR READING AND GOOD LUCK!