On this day in 1896, some 111 years ago, the first permanent cinema was opened to the public. It was called the Vitascope Hall, located on Canal Street in New Orleans.
Public exhibition of moving pictures had occurred previously in New York City earlier that year at the Koster & Bials Music Hall on 34th Street, but the Vitascope Hall, a 400-seat theater, was intended to capitalize on what some even then were thinking was more than just a passing fad.
Painfully flickering travelogues were generally the entertainment of the time for an industry trying to get its foot in the door of respectability by appearing educational. That notion would wear off soon enough, even if the eyestrain didn’t. Within fifteen years, we had “The Great Train Robbery” and some 13,000 theaters across the country, with most tickets under 10 cents