June 19, 2011 - First movie theater

– 1905

The dawn of the age of the nickelodeon!

On this date in 1905, Harry Davis and John P. Harris opened a small storefront theater in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. They called it Nickelodeon because they charged a nickel (and because the Greek word for roofed theater was odeion).

Ten- to fifteen-minute films played in the theater continuously, including short narratives, “actualities” (documentaries), illustrated songs, dance acts, sporting events, melodramas, and so forth.

Hundreds of copy-cat nickelodeons opened up all over the country, but starting in 1915, the day of the nickelodeon was essentially over. The new films being made were longer and drew larger audiences, and new movie theaters were built with larger auditoriums and higher admission prices. (Yep, people had to pay an entire DIME to see a movie!)

Now you know where the name Nickelodeon came from!

Celebrate by watching something other than a mainstream movie. How about an animated short or a documentary? You might try Blast Off! or  Oktopodi,  for animated shorts. Powers of Ten  and What On Earth is Wrong with Gravity? are some possibilities for documentaries. 

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