The commercial history of motion pictures begins on April 14, 1894 with the opening of the Holland brothers’ kinetoscope parlor at 1155 Broadway in New York City.
Excerpts from The Sun, May 25, 1894:
“The latest of Wizard Edison’s inventions, the kinetoscope is on exhibition at 1,155 Broadway. Although the apparatus is to a considerable extent a resemblance to a toy that has long been a favorite with children, it has new features, and illustrates principles in photography, optical illusions, and electricity that render it of interest.
“Mr. Edison has succeeded in constructing a machine which brings a series of photographs before the eye with such great rapidity that the eye cannot detect the change from one photograph to the next. This produces the effect of lifelike action in the series of views. Ten views are now on exhibition.
“The first shows Sandow, the strong performing his feats. Then there is a scene in a barber shop in which a customer takes his place in a chair and the barber shaves him in regular style. Bertoldi, the contortionist, whose photograph is not more than an inch in length, gives one of her difficult exhibitions,
“There are a wrestling contest, a rooster fight, a Highland dance, an organ grinder with monkey, three blacksmiths at a forge, and a gymnast in a flying ring exercise.
“Three blacksmiths at the forge are very lively in their movements, it being evident that they are impressed with the importance of striking while the iron is hot. They are thirsty after the iron is shaped, and each in turn takes a drink from a bottle in a manner amusing to the spectator.
“Although the kinetoscope is far from being a perfect machine, it combines principles which Mr. Edison may greatly improve in the near future. The name of the machine is not an invention of the ‘Wizard.’ It is in the dictionary.”
Cezar Del Valle is the author of the Brooklyn Theatre Index, a three-volume history of borough theatres. The first two chosen 2010 OUTSTANDING BOOK OF THE YEAR by the Theatre Historical Society. Final volume published in September 2014.
He is available for theatre talks and walks in 2015: historical societies, libraries, senior centers, etc.
Now selling “vintage” on Etsy.