Rock Center   |  July 30, 2014

Back to the Future: NYC past and present side-by-side

From Anthony Weiner’s candidacy for New York mayor, to a Wisconsin boat launch fail, to Tom Hanks’ “Big” anniversary, to a side-by-side comparison of New York City from 1939 and 2013 – Brian Williams reports on the news you may have missed this week.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> we devote our remaining moments to good use with a public service of sorts. finding the moments that didn't t the attention they deserved in the rush of all the other news, beginning with man we've come to know who is trying to get back in the game. memo to anthony weiner , since you're now running for mayor of new york with a very public history , it's probably best even if you are bored during a candidate's debate not to look down because people are going to assume you're using an electronic device and you know what more of the unsavory comedy tv types are going to do with that. this didn't go well. this video surfaced of the launch of a new vehicle from dry dock in wisconsin. a big boat. it displaces a lot of water, enough to tear apart the pier and injure our photographer, but he'll be okay. this didn't go well. the flight attendant's faces say it all. actually the food on the floor says it all. meal service on a singapore airlines flight had to be suspended for turbulence. from there we go to the israeli knesset where a spectacular moment broke out this week. the education minister was giving a speech until he reached the word "penetration." he got a case of the giggles and thoroughly lost it. and then so did the entire chamber. sooner or later it got everybody. you can try to act serious by stroking your beard, but even he was powerless in the end. and in the end, the education minister did the honorable thing and gave up trying to penetrate the laughter. we can't help but think congress would work better if humor, any kind of humor occasionally broke out in that chamber. speaking of fun, let's celebrate a big anniversary. the movie "big" turns 25 years old this week. tom hanks , then aged 32, had more fun being a kid than some kids do. and new york's most famous toy store , f.a.o. schwartz , has never been the same. and we got to see a vivid reminder this week that new york city never stays the same. this extraordinary color film has surfaced thanks to the romano archives. it's a tour of the city from the summer of 1939 , just months before world war ii broke out and changed everything. the summer lou gehrig gave his farewell address and "the wizard of oz" premiered.

>> toto, darling, oh, i got you back.

>> in this film shot by a french tourist, we get a glimpse of what things cost back then. we go uptown to harlem, then downtown to chinatown. a visual feast for history buffs from those city cabs to the buses with quaint spiral staircases. men and women wear their hats at rakish angles. we see elevated subway tracks since shut down. windows open preair conditioning back when fountains were an acceptable way to cool down. and then, there it is, the still brand new rockefeller center rising up from midtown. the outdoor plaza pretty much the way it is today. then up to the roof, the top of the rock . note the factory smoke stacks and the air quality , which has actually improved. engines burn cleaner now, and a lot of that heavy industry is gone. and because it's still a spectacular place to view the city, we found it's a good place to see how things have changed from 1939 to 2013 . and you know what? it's still a great spot to look out over this ever-changing city. that