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Rewind Chicago: British Newsreel Company Uploads Its Entire Collection On YouTube

Acrobats perform above a Chicago street. (Credit: YouTube/British Pathe)

Acrobats perform above a Chicago street. (Credit: YouTube/British Pathe)

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By John Dodge

CHICAGO (CBS) — British Pathe, the creator of old-time newsreels, has uploaded its entire collection of films on YouTube, including dozens of fascinating short historical films showcasing Chicago.

The YouTube archive of 82,000 historic films is part of a drive the make the archive more accessible.

“Our hope is that everyone, everywhere who has a computer will see these films and enjoy them,” said Alastair White, General Manager of British Pathé. “This archive is a treasure trove unrivalled in historical and cultural significance that should never be forgotten. Uploading the films to YouTube seemed like the best way to make sure of that.”

Here are a few of the film clips featuring Chicago.

On June 5, 1946, a fire at the LaSalle Hotel killed 61 people. It is the worst hotel fire in the city’s history and left the lobby of the supposedly fireproof building a charred ruin.

The U.S. Ski Jumping competition in 1962 was at Norge in Fox River Grove. An overabundance of snow almost canceled the competition.

A man and woman dance on 10-inch-wide plank, 19 stories above the street. “If you drop you partner doing the ‘Big Apple,’ you are rotten to the core,” the newsreel’s narrator says.

While this film below is about 75 years old, it will look familiar. It’s a blizzard downtown in 1938, The footage shows pedestrians sliding on ice, barely able to keep their balance. It’s Chiberia, revisited!

Rescuers work to remove transit cars that had run off the rails near Indiana Avenue. Despite the twisted metal and wreckage, only one person died.

Footage from 1963 showcases fantastic aerials of the city, including the new O’Hare International Airport, which at the time handled 1,000 flights a day.

There are various shots around the Central District Water Filtration Plant which is under construction. Viewers can also see elevated long shots of cars and other traffic moving along modern highway in and out of Chicago. More air shots of Chicago.