Jerusalem in 1897: Newly colorized film shows life at Ottoman-era Jaffa Gate

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New film showing bustling life in Ottoman-era Jerusalem over a century ago is being circulated online as the city’s streets fall silent under current coronavirus lockdown measures.

The original footage, shot by French film director Alexandre Promio in 1897, shows pedestrians going about their daily lives at Jerusalem’s Jaffa Gate, one of the city’s seven entrances.


Last month, the footage was brought to life by the “Film Rescue” YouTube channel, which enhances and colorizes historic film.

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The 43-second clip now depicts a clear scene of everyday life twenty years before the Ottoman rule of Jerusalem ended.

Men can be seen wearing the fez hat, a popular style during the Ottoman era.

One man appears to be selling wares from a small table, while two children appear to be posing for the camera.

In the background, Jerusalem’s Jaffa Gate towers above the scene, while a barbershop sign can be clearly distinguished above one of the buildings.

“This is AWESOME! A film clip of Jerusalem from 1897, digitally enhanced. The closest thing to a time machine you'll ever see,” wrote analyst Michael Doran on Twitter.

Today Jaffa Gate is one of the main entry points into the Old City of Jerusalem and is located on Omar Ibn Katab street.

The area, which is currently under Israeli occupation, is contested and claimed by the Palestinians as the capital for their future state.

“Film Rescue” has also colorized a range of other historical clips, including a tram ride in Vienna in 1906, an English wedding in 1913, and a prohibition-era speakeasy in New York in 1928.

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