In the early 1970s Gehr embarked on an ambitious city symphony film that he would never complete, armed with a series of vintage 16mm cameras from the 1930s from his impressive collection of cinematographic devices. Inspired by the Lumière brothers and, it would seem, by Georg Simmel's description of the restless kineticism of the modern city, Gehr turned his obsolete cameras upon primary sites of physical and commercial movement in Lower Manhattan: the long gone Essex Street Market, crowded Wall Street diners and subway cars swollen with rush hour commuters. Returning to the abandoned footage over thirty years later, Gehr transferred the film to video and assembled a four part work that rediscovers the rhythms and shapes of a now lost city and poignantly ends, in Greene Street, with a burst of Kodachrome magic. Preceding the films of The Essex Street Quartet is his found-footage wonder Eureka.
One of the great found footage films, Eureka was made by re-photographing a 1902 film travelogue shot from the front of a San Francisco street car. Extending the original nine and a half minutes to half an hour, Gehr makes the viewer a time traveler passing through a world thick with camera grain and redolent with temps perdu.