Nickelodeon, 441 Smithfield Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

On June 19, 1905, the Nickelodeon boom began when a small theatre by that name opened on Smithfield Street in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The following is from an excellent article by Timothy McNulty, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 19, 2005.

nickelodeon
Implet Magazine, 1911

“There were other stand-alone theaters in New Orléans and Los Angeles before the Nickelodeon opened, says Michael Aronson, an assistant professor of film and media studies at the University of Oregon, who is writing a history of the Pittsburgh nickelodeon boom. And other theaters had carried the name ‘nickelodeon,’ for a combination of their admission price and the Greek word for “theater.”

Also, the films often cited through the years as opening at the Pittsburgh Nickelodeon in 1905 — a comedy called ‘The Baffled Burglar’ and the melodrama ‘Poor but Honest’ — were also likely incorrect. According to records kept by the American Film Institute, those films were not produced until several years later.

Other historical references say the first movie shown was ‘The Great Train Robbery,’ but that legendary 1903 film was already so well-known (it previously had a summer-long run at Kennywood, for instance) that patrons probably would not be flooding into the Nickelodeon to see it again two years later.

But the importance of the theater, whatever the details, is not in question, says Aronson, who earned his doctorate from Pitt in 2003. It was still the template for all the theaters — and the new movie industry itself — that followed it.

‘It’s like saying Starbucks didn’t invent coffee in a cup, so they didn’t have an impact on our culture,’ Aronson said.

‘It was the effect that mattered. In the Pittsburgh Nickelodeon, clearly everything came together at the right time, and everything took off.’ ”

Interior of the Nickelodeon Theatre, Moving Picture World, November 1907
Interior of the Nickelodeon Theatre, Moving Picture World, November 1907

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.

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Maryland Theatre, Washington D.C.

Moving Picture World, February 3, 1912:

Maryland_pe“The above is a reproduction of a photograph of the Maryland, one of the attractive and popular theatres in Washington D.C. The house is owned by Col Wertz and Dr. Wunder and managed by J.F. Story.”

Poster for What a Woman Can Do, one of the many westerns starring “Broncho Billy” Anderson.

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.

Starland Theatre, Montreal, Canada

Moving Picture World, November 4, 1911:

starland_pe (Large)

“One of the foremost picture theatres in Montreal, Can., is the Starland, owned by Demetre & Demetelin. The accompanying engraving shows the house decorated for the Coronation of King George V. The orchestra and members of the staff are also in evidence.

“The Starland has a seating capacity of 750; only first run pictures are shown and the decorations are very pleasing.

“The orchestra is under the direction of Prof. A. Rosenburg. The house is under the management of W. H. Tolbutt.”

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.

Germantown Theatre, 5508 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia

From The Greatest Achievement in Music For Theatre: The Wulitzer Hope-Jones Unit Orchestra, originally published by the Rudolph Wurlitzer Company in 1916. Reprinted by Vestal Press in 1964.

germantown_pe (Large)

“The Germantown Theatre is recognized as one of the finest picture play houses in Philadelphia, located in Germantown, Philadelphia’s most popular suburb. Has a seating capacity  of 1,400, and was built at a cost of $12,500. It is devoted to the presentation of Paramount Pictures, and caters to the most fashionable trade in Philadelphia.

“Mr. Steumpfig, the Proprietor, has a large collection of letters from people, commenting upon the Unit Orchestra, and requesting special selections. The instrument is featured at every performance by an announcement that a certain selection will be played, and a spot light thrown on the player.”

The Theatres of Germantown

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Princess Theatre, Anderson, Indiana

The Nickelodeon, July 1, 1910:

“S. B. Sampson, manager of the Princess Theater at Anderson, Ind., and whose counterfeit presentment appears at the extreme right, is a satisfied exhibitor.”

Nickelodeon_pe

“The picture of the theater front was taken Memorial day, 1910 before the first performance of the day. Mr.
Sampson says that after the show opened you couldn’t see the front at all for people.

“The player and singer are standing in the doorway, the drummer is between them and the manager and on the extreme left is Mr. Sampson, Jr. The Kleine Optical Company furnishes service for the Princess.”

The poster, on the left, is for “The Stolen Fortune“, released by Essanay Studios, May 4, 1910.

 

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.

Yorkville Hippodrome, 499 First Avenue, New York, NY

The Film Index, October 9, 1909:

yorkville1_pe (Medium)

“The Hippodrome was opened January , 1909, and cost $21,000 to build. The dimensions are 22 feet 6 inches front, by 102 feet deep, with an ‘L’ in the rear which gives a width of 39 feet.

“The auditorium includes a balcony which affords ample seating capacity. There is a commodious stage with a 20 foot opening, with all drops and scenery necessary for vaudeville acts.

“The lobby is 12 feet deep and brilliantly illuminated. Every possible means of fireproofing the Hippodrome was employed in its construction. The ceiling and walls are of steel and costs $1,600. During the exhibition of pictures the auditorium is made comparatively light by use of green lamps and shades.

“Uniformed help add to the general attractiveness of the place. The Hippodrome can be numbered among the best of the modern picture houses.

 

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.

 

Gaiety Theatre, 539 Rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest, Montreal, Canada

Moving Picture World, October 21, 1911:

GaietyOct211911_pe (Medium)

“The Gaiety of Montreal cleared $300 profit after a three days run of the Thanhouser two-reel production of Romeo and Juliet. The manager writes that the success of the pictures were phenomenal. All the highest averages of previous successes were broken.

“The Gaiety advertised the pictures well in advance. It plastered up the front of the house, as the cut shows, with one sheets and three sheets.

“It covered the town with handbills and posters. The results far exceeded their most optimistic expectations. The returns they got not only demonstrates what live-wire advertising methods will do, but illustrates the drawing power of classic films.”

Rome & Juliet 

Thanhouser

Gaiety Theatre

 

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.

 

Ashtead Cinema in Rural Surrey, 1912

Excerpts from  The Cinema News and Property Gazette, June 1912

“very desirable cinema property”  for  sale

surrey1_pe (Medium)

“This very desirable cinema property is at Ashtead, one of the prettiest and most frequented spots in rural Surrey. It is within three minutes walk of Ashtead Station (S.W.R. and L.B.R.), and a little more than five minutes from the famous Ashtead Woods, the favorite rendezvous of picnic parties.

“Ashtead is about a mile from Leatherhead, and the combined population is about 7,000, and this is the only picture palace in the district.  Such a rare opportunity of building up a fine and remunerative business seldom offers itself and am enterprising man with quite a moderate capital should do well.

“The Ashtead Cinema is fully equipped for picture shows; in the operator’s room is a brand-new Pathe lantern and rewinder and every other necessary. There is a Crypo transformer, gas radiators for heating the theatre, which is lighted by electricity, and a workshop overhead fitted with vices, etc., for doing repairs.

“The building is licensed by the Surrey County Council for music and dancing as well as cinematograph shows, has a seating accommodation for 200 and room for another 150. It is about 70 feet long and about 40 feet broad, has a frontage of 95 feet, and a depth of 80 feet.

“The operator’s room is outside. There are 200 seats. The screen is 11 by 10 feet (with a throw of about 60 feet), and the sundries include a fine orchestrelle pianola by Angelus.

“Full particulars are only to be obtained from  Messrs. Harris and Gillow, cinematograph theatre experts, 451a, Oxford Street, W. who are the sole agents, and will be pleased to forward orders views and any further particulars on application.”

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comedy Theatre, 46 East 14th Street, New York,NY

Moving Picture World, May 28, 1910:

comedy theatre 1910

“We present herewith the portrait of Albert A. Kaufman, manager of the Comedy Theatre, who is reported to be the youngest man in his particular line. On account of the competition of adjacent licensed houses, the Comedy uses Independent service which is supplied by William Steiner’s film exchange.

kaufman
Albert A. Kaufman

Three reels constitute the show and with 5 cents admission on weekdays and 10 cents on Saturday and Sunday, the Comedy does a  standing  room business  and Mr. Kaufman is well satisfied  with his receipts.

One excellent feature of Mr. Kaufman’s management is that patrons of this theater are not allowed to find their way to seats. Ample standing room is allowed  while a show is in progress, behind the chairs and as this space slopes with the floor, even those standing can get a full view of the screen.

This is the second of the prominent theaters on Moving Picture Row  to install the Independent service and Mr. Kaufman seems to be well pleased with the treatment that he receives from Bill Steiner and his staff.

 

Romany Rob’s Revenge

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.

Colonial Theatre, 525 George Street, Sydney, NSW

Excerpts from Moving Picture World, May 28. 1910:

MPW May2810

“There are now over fifty moving picture theaters in full swing in Sidney and suburbs and there are four more just on the point of completion and will open inside of another week.

“We reproduce herewith a photograph of The Colonial, Sydney, which is known as Australia’s first continuous moving picture show. The house, which is modeled after the prevailing American style, owned and managed by J.D. Williams, and American from Spokane, Wash.

“Mr. Williams has recently spent $8,000 in alterations and decorations, but he is in the right with the antipodeans, as he is filling his house and making money.”

 

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.

AustraliaWikipedia: Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. It is the world’s sixth-largest country by total area. Neighbouring countries include Indonesia, East Timor and Papua New Guinea to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east.