Check out The Art and Culture Of Movies,
a great blog by filmmaker and writer Matt Barry, for some interesting
thoughts about film pioneer Edwin S. Porter (director of the The Great Train Robbery from 1903.)  The post is illustrated with terrific screen shots from Porter's films.  (The frame above is from It Happened On 23rd Street — shot in 1901 on a block, between 5th and 6th Avenues, which looks almost the same today, architecturally speaking.)