On today in 1914, the Mark Strand Theatre opens to the general public in New York City.
Located at Broadway and 47th Street, in the center of Manhattan’s Theater District, the theater was the creation of Mitchell L. Mark, who began his motion-picture career as a producer but became an exhibitor later.
Before 1914, motion-picture exhibitors had showcased their offerings behind modest storefronts generally, dubbed “nickelodeons” following the original Nickelodeon that opened in Pittsburgh in 1905. By contrast, the Mark Strand Theatre-later known simply because the Strand-was the initial of the so-called “dream palaces,” called therefore because of their impressive size and luxuriously appointed interiors. The Strand seated around 3,000 people and boasted a second-floor viewing balcony and (within an architectural innovation at that time) a two-story rotunda where moviegoers could socialize before and following the presentation and during intermission.
On the night time before it debuted to the general public, the Mark Strand Theatre held its opening-night gala, that your next day’s newspapers called “a sensation” (in accordance with a 1938 retrospective on the Strand published in the New York Times) In addition to the feature presentation that night-The Spoilers, a drama starring William Farnum-the audience was treated to a performance by the Strand’s concert orchestra; The Neapolitan Incident, that your program called “a collaboration of the motion picture and song”; songs by the Strand Quartet; and a Keystone comedy short.
By 1916, the amount of movie palaces in the United States had topped 21,000. Instead of an application of short films, these theaters would show a full-length feature presentation to be able to charge patrons premium prices. The movie-palace boom (and the corresponding demise of the nickelodeons) marked the start of the rise of the studio system, which may dominate Hollywood from the 1920s in to the 1950s.