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The Empress: 1939

The Empress: 1939

July 1939. "Theatre on 9th Street. Washington, D.C." Seventeen years after our previous visit. Large format nitrate negative by David Myers. View full size.


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Faded Empress

She might have been the bee's knees in 1922, but it looks like the best is behind her. Most of the bulbs have been removed from the facade, and the pendant lights are mostly gone. She's also suffering the ravages of years of pigeon visits. I suppose by now the big movie palaces were getting all the major movies, and these converted silent houses - despite the hopeful "See All the Big Pictures Here" - had to settle for aging child stars and such.

Smoke Rises

In addition to the ashtrays in the chair arms, many theaters only allowed smoking in the balcony. I personally find the current cell phone use more obnoxious than a person upstairs having a smoke.

Tight Spot

I always felt bad for the guy or gal who worked in the ticket booth back then. It was so small; there was just enough room to stand. If you had a nice boss, maybe you had a stool to sit on. Spending an 8 hour workday (or maybe less) in the box was so claustrophobic. Wonder what they did for bathroom breaks? Probably somebody relieved (no pun intended) them.


The arms of the theater seats had metal ash trays embedded in them. They were removable so the janitors could empty them. Thank goodness smoking is not allowed any longer in theaters.

Living Doll?

I swear that's a mannequin in the ticket booth!

Let's stop at the Legion

Next door, to the left, is the American Legion.

Hey, Pancho!

Hey, Cisco!

Brought to you by Butternut Bread.

I hate to think of what actually useful information I could have stored in those particular brain cells all these years instead of Cisco Kid trivia.

"Smoking Permitted" - Oh my!

I know times have changed but I can't wrap my mind around all the lit, then dropped, cigarettes in a darkened theater crammed with upholstered seats.

Go Arizona Wildcats!

As a Wildcat, I approve this message! (Bear Down!)

Arizona Wildcat

Starring child star Jane Withers. Who later cleaned a bunch of sinks as Josephine in the Comet commercials. Her co-star, Leo Carrilo, would go on to be Pancho on The Cisco Kid.

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