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The Bowery Boys: New York City History
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#359 The Magic of the Movie Theater

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In celebration of 125 years of movie exhibition in New York City -- from vaudeville houses to movie palaces, from arthouses to multiplexes.

In the spring of 1896 an invention called the Vitascope projected moving images onto a screen at a midtown vaudeville theater. The business of movies was born.

By the late 1910s, the movies were big ... and the theaters were getting bigger! Thanks to creators like architect Thomas Lamb and impresario Samuel 'Roxy' Rothafel, theaters in Times Square, New York's prime entertainment district, grew larger and more opulent. 

Even by the 1940s, movie theaters were a mix of film and live acts -- singers, dancers, animal acrobats and even the drama of a Wurlitzer organ.


But a major court case brought a change to American film exhibition and diversity to the screen -- both low brow (grind house) and high brow (foreign films and 'art' movies).

Today's greatest arthouse cinemas trace their lineage back to the late 1960s/early 1970s and the new conception of movies as an art form. 

Can these theaters survive the perennial villain of the movies (i.e. television) AND the current challenges of a pandemic?

FEATURING: The origin story of all your favorite New York City movie theaters.

boweryboyshistory.com

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