Colorized Video Transports Viewers to 1940s Chicago

This footage of Chicago from 1942 has been colorized and remastered for the internet. Whether or not you're familiar with the city, the video is a fascinating trip through history.
Found Image Holdings Inc/GettyImages
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History is built into the foundation of Chicago, Illinois. It’s famous for being the birthplace of the modern skyscraper, the playground of Al Capone, and the host of the most influential world’s fair.  For an idea of what walking through the Windy City was like in the 1940s, check out this video.

NASS pulled this historic footage from the Internet Archive and restored it for YouTube. The original black-and-white clip has been colorized, sharpened, and boosted to 60 frames per second. The uploader also added ambient noise to enhance the immersive effect. 

Though it clocks in at less than 10 minutes, the video is long enough to provide a snapshot of life in Chicago in 1942. The pedestrians clogging the streets are dressed in clothes fitting the fashion trends of the time, such as long coats, furs, and pumps. There’s a hat adorning nearly every head, with fedoras being an especially popular style on men.

Car styles have changed just as much in the past 80 years. The vintage cars and buses look a lot different from the sleeker vehicles we see on the roads today. (Meanwhile, the streetcars in the video have disappeared from Chicago completely.) The footage also showcases retro billboards for brands like Coca-Cola, Sunkist, and Camel cigarettes. While these companies have stuck around, their advertisement strategies have evolved significantly over the decades.

Chicago in the 1940s may look like a different world to modern viewers, but it’s recent history compared to the scenes captured in some other historic clips. This colorized footage depicts New York City in 1911, a time when motion picture cameras were still a novel sight. Watch the video and compare it to the slice of urban life in the footage above.

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