Latest Issue


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…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect