Using archives dug up from the archives of The Museum of Modern Art, a YouTuber has upscaled a video from 1902 showing a ride on a German ‘Flying Train’ in amazing detail.
YouTuber Denis Shiryaev is well-known online for colorizing and upscaling old footage to give a glimpse into the lives of people who lived a long time ago, making you feel as if you were there yourself. In this work of his, we see footage of “Wuppertal Schwebebahn” shot in 1902 and upscaled using neural networks and AI. The reworked footage, which captures spectacular views of horse-and-carriages, children playing in the streets, and the River Wupper, is of great interest to historians, as they can rarely lay their hands on motion pictures from those times as detailed as seen here.
As it flies overhead, the Flying Train (also called the Wuppertal Schwebebahn) travels through what used to be the cities and towns of Elberfeld, Ronsdorf, Cronenberg, Vohwinkel and Barmen in Western Germany. These communities were united in 1929 under the name “Barmen-Elberfeld” and were renamed into “Wuppertal” in 1930, due to them all being located along the Wupper river. Today, Wuppertal has a population of around 355,100 people.
Built mostly over the river to save space, the train system hasn’t changed much and still functional! It is the oldest electric elevated railway with hanging cars in the world. Opened in 1901, it connected many urban areas together, providing a means of easy public transport.
Historians actually credit the Schwebebahn for the Wuppertal’s growth into the thriving city it is today. Back then, the city was one of the largest industrial regions in Europe and is still a major exporter of electronics, vehicles, and other products.
This is how the line looks like today
Sometimes the old trains are still used
And unfortunately, sometimes there are accidents too
An interesting fact about the flying train
Tuffi was a female circus elephant that became famous in West Germany during 1950 when she accidentally fell from the Wuppertal Schwebebahn into the River Wupper underneath. Circus director Franz Althoff had the four-year-old elephant travel on the suspended monorail in Wuppertal, as a publicity stunt. Poor Tuffi trumpeted wildly and ran through the wagon, broke through a window and fell ~12 meters (39 ft) down into the River Wupper.
Remarkably, she was unhurt by her unexpected free fall. In the wagon, however, a panic had broken out and some passengers were injured. In he meantime, Althoff helped the elephant out of the water. Both the circus director and the official who had allowed the ride were fined. Unfortunately, that didn’t stop Althoff from making Tuffi travel on trams many more times throughout her long life (she died in 1989). According to contemporary reports, she did that job quite happily though, but we’re not quite sure about that. Anyway, one thing is sure: she never set foot on the Schwebebahn again.