1920s New York Brought Back to Life Through AI Colorization

100-year-old footage taken in New York just months before the Roaring 20s came to a crashing end has been given a new lease of life via AI colorization.

Glamour Daze used artificial intelligence (AI) to colorize and upscale the old footage taken at the Easter Day Parade in New York City to 4K and 60 frames per second.

“Original black and white silent footage was denoised, upscaled, and colorized using deep exemplar-based video colorization,” Glamour Daze writes in the video description. “Finally an ambient soundtrack was created for an immersive experience”

Colorized footage of NYC in 1929
1920s New Yorkers wearing their Sunday best.

The video features well-heeled New Yorkers attending the Easter Parade showing off their new clothes around Fifth Avenue.

There is a clip of a crowd of people gathering at the entrance of St. Patricks Cathedral dressed in their finest attire. Conversely, there’s also a shot of a group of unemployed men led by the famous “Mr. Zero”, Urbain Ledoux who leads a group of older men wearing hats and wooden shoes.

Colorized footage of NYC in 1929
“Mr. Zero”, Urbain Ledoux, (right) leads a group of unemployed men around the city.

“The Easter Parade on Fifth Avenue in New York during the 1920s was a spectacle that attracted thousands of people. It was a time when the city was experiencing economic prosperity and social changes,” writes Glamour Daze.

“The parade was a celebration of the end of Lent and the arrival of spring, and it was a time for people to show off their fashionable attire.

“The Easter Parade was held on Fifth Avenue, the main thoroughfare in Manhattan. The avenue was closed to traffic, and people would walk up and down the street, showing off their new clothes and accessories. The parade started in the late morning and lasted until early evening.”

Colorized footage of NYC in 1929
A group of women dressed in a flapper-style.

The clips were provided by MIRC University of South Carolina which holds one of the nation’s largest film and video archives, with more than 8,000 hours of moving image material.

The video shows women wearing flapper-style clothing, a popular subculture in the 1920s that saw women wear knee-high skirts (outrageous at the time), bobbed their hair, drinking alcohol, and generally rebel against the period’s authorities.

The flappers were a symbol of the roaring 20s which ended with a bang just a few months after this footage was filmed when the Wall Street Crash happened further down Manhattan Island on October 29, known as Black Tuesday.

Gamour Daze has previously colorized 1920s footage taken in Paris.

Image credits:Images courtesy of MIRC University of South Carolina.@uofsc_mirc/Gamourdaze.