With such a rich musical and theatrical history, one would think that Detroit would be one of the foremost cities for the performance arts, but in the wake of scandals and class action lawsuits the industry dried up and headed west to Hollywood. The roaring 1920s, as they are often called, was a time in the movie industry for ruthless and cunning businessmen to establish empires made from film collections and the distributions of such collections. Detroit, along with Chicago and New York, was seen as the destination city for theater because of abundance of grand theaters and the infrastructure to run large, costly operations. That infrastructure started in the late 1890s when Vitascopes (early film projectors) appeared. The Vitascope was an early precursor to the film projector and was used in âNickelodeonsâ (movies costing only a nickel) throughout the county in the very early 1900s. Detroit had many Nickelodeons and its vast array of theaters capitalized early on in the âtalking pictureâ movement.
To the left: A movie poster for one of Walt Disney's early films. Date & title are unknown.