Today’s Time Waster

Via YouTube, a 3-minute video of a trolley ride in North Berkeley, circa 1906. The route is northbound on Oxford Street, eastbound on Hearst, then north on Euclid). The split-level portion of Hearst looks much the same today in terms of the road configuration. Virtually all of the buildings shown in the picture — some big, gorgeous Victorian homes, mostly — burned down during a wildfire in 1923 (and JB, midway through the clip, look for what looks like a Norfolk pine on a hillside to the left; its presence interests me just because that area of Berkeley was settled probably no more than 40 years before the date of the image — 50 tops — and the size of the tree suggests it might have been one of the first Norfolk pines transplanted to the Bay Area).

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7 Replies to “Today’s Time Waster”

  1. This is cool. And that is a Norfolk Pine. It would be interesting to know what the reasoning for bringing the Norfolk Pines to California was in the first place. I suspect that as the local timber was cut, people started to look around for a good alternatives for building material. The Norfolk Pine is a fast, straight grower. In the late 18th century the British navy hoped to use them for ships masts and spars. They also hoped the trees would be a source of revenue which would support the new colony of Australia. Unfortunately, they snapped like matchsticks when they came under heavy stress on ships. Robert Hughes talks about all this in The Fatal Shore. But it doesn’t seem all that unreasonable that someone in California might plant and harvest them for lumber. I know that they are used on Norfolk Island for some frame construction. They–the big ones especially–are really a very beautiful, stately. Some of the trees on Norfolk Island go back to before the founding of the colony. In their natural setting, where they they evolved really, they look positively primordial.
    So what was with the melee scene at the end of that film?

  2. You were great in Goodfellas. How’s Henry doing? Convey my heartiest regards to Johnny Roastbeef and the lovely Mrs. Roastbeef. And get back to me on that Pittsburgh thing.

  3. Oh, the melee scene. Despite the principals’ resemblance to Gittes, Cross, Mulwray, etc., I believe we’re looking at a staged tussle designed not to distract attention from nefarious doings in the water-rights world, but purely to entertain audiences. The continuing interest in the doings of Mr. and Mrs. Roastbeef proves that the filmmakers succeeded beyond their fondest imaginings.

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