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Ur-Dashcam: Ride Along With A 1920s Fire Chief Through New York City Mayhem

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1920s New York Fire Department dashcam

1920s New York Fire Department dashcam

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If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to drive to a fire through the streets of New York City in the 1920s, wonder no more. This video shows what it was like—and it’s one of the earliest dashcam videos anywhere.

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With a camera on the nose of the FDNY Chief Kenlon's car (jump to the 2:00 minute mark for the action), the ride shows hectic traffic, pedestrians everywhere, and some rather creative interpretation of what, exactly, makes for an expedient path—gems like “Bad traffic jams force use of sidewalks.”

Along the way, you’ll see some educational snippets on all of the technology of the day that had to come together to coordinate a fire response in New York City, as well as a ground-level view of what cars, traffic, and city life was like as it flickered past the windows of a speeding car.

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