Fire, Sparta Theatre, Bowery, Coney Island, Brooklyn

On Sunday, July 12, 2015,  Cezar Del Valle, author of the Brooklyn Theatre Index Volume III, hosts the cHURCH OF MONICA, Open Source Gallery, with an illustrated talk on the history of Coney Island theatre.


The Evening Telegram, August 10, 1904:
“The first intimation that a blaze existed was given to the audience on the canvas in which the moving pictures were being shown. The machine itself caused the fire as the result of the photographic films coming in contact with the carbon flame.

“On the canvas was being shown a picture of Dante’s ‘Inferno.’ When the film caught fire it was passing behind lens at a rapid rate and for the space of a minute the real flames were reflected into the picture ‘Inferno.’ At first the audience thought the reflection was part of the picture, but the cry of fire brought them to a realization that the picture was near to being real.

“The picture machine was located in a partly enclosed booth in the balcony of the music hall. The flames spread to the second floor in spite of the fact that the booth was sheathed in tin. Johnson Smith, the operator was burned about the face and hands while making his escape from the booth.”

Above photo from a postcard in the Theatre Talks Collection, please ask permission to copy and/or use. At least give credit to source. We know that some people will not honor this but it would be nice if they did.

Cezar Del Valle is the author of the Brooklyn Theatre Index, a three-volume history of borough theatres. The first two chosen 2010 Best Book of the Year by the Theatre Historical Society. Final volume published in September 2014.

He is available for theatre talks and walking tours in 2015: historical societies, libraries, senior centers, etc.

Now selling “vintage” on Etsy.


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