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There have been three ages of cinema architecture: cathedral, deco and dross. The time is ripe for a return to the vitality and optimism of art deco design

By Mark Cousins   November 2005

Exactly a century ago, the first of a new type of building that would transform our cultural lives was constructed. At 8am on Monday 19th June 1905, on Smithfield Street in Pittsburgh, the first purpose-built movie theatre, a 96-seater, was opened by local entrepreneurs Harry Davis and John Harris. They called it a “nickelodeon,” combining the cost of admission with the Greek word for theatre. On the first day, 450 people queued, in 32-degree heat, to see the 15-minute programmes of shorts and “funnies,” repeated over 16 hours. On day two the numbers grew to 1,500. Such was the cinema’s…

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