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» Cinematour Forum   » Cinematour Discussion   » Query about theatre information

   
Author Topic: Query about theatre information
Marvin Sebourn
New Member

Posts: 3
From: Enid, OK
Registered: Mar 2005


 - posted March 23, 2005 09:17 AM      Profile for Marvin Sebourn   Email Marvin Sebourn         Edit/Delete Post 
From a newbie/sometimes lurker:

I am doing research on establishing the location of historic movie theatres of Oklahoma, using Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps. They have been very helpful, but this site (cinematoure.com) and Mike Rivest's site (www.movie-theatre.org/) have helped me add many theatres not found in the Sanborn lists.

I have two questions:
1) How was the information derived for these sites?
2) Is there a master list of theatre locations, by state?
3) What is the significance of the (usually) five digit code that is sometimes seen for a theatre? Is there some general system to assign a specific number for each theatre, and is there a master list using these numbers, other than what is here, and at Mr. Rivest's site?

Thank you for your consideration!
Marvin Sebourn
osugeography@aol.com

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Jim Rankin
(Jim passed away in December 2006)
Posts: 123
From: Milwaukee, WI
Registered: Oct 2003


 - posted March 23, 2005 10:12 AM      Profile for Jim Rankin   Email Jim Rankin         Edit/Delete Post 
I hope you can find an authoritative source re the Sanborn maps, but from what I have been told, they originated about a century ago as a collaboration in the insurance industry according to the degree of urban density that warranted them. Thus, not all areas of the US and Canada have such maps.

I don't know what the numbers you refer to mean.

There are no "Master Lists of Theatres" for American states as far as I have ever heard. In the States, there are Insurance Commissioners (or similar wording) at the capitols to regulate the industry, but they have no purview of properties as such. Private property is supervised and listed --if at all-- on the county or city levels for property tax and building inspection purposes, usually the only identity they have with a government. Some municipalities may contain lists of building classes in their jurisdictions, but generally these are only by Zoning Class, as in Residential types, Commercial types, etc. These put buildings in broad tax brackets but there is usually no single one for theatres.

Part of the problem of finding a 'theatres' list is defining what constitutes a 'theatre', something which we have recently discussed in these Forums. As far as I know, the insurance industry did not primarily differentiate between Cinemas that may have only shown films, and Theatre/ers that were primarily for live action. It was a matter of size, capacity, and construction to them as a way of catagorizing their potential losses as an actuary would.

The Theatre Historical Society of America has constructed a List of Theatres by location, but it reflects only about 15,000 of the almost 30,000 such sites that some estimate once existed. You would do well to contact them via their Ex. Director, Rich Sklenar, via his link on their web site at: www.historictheatres.org

Please tell us what your quest reveals here on the Forum. Best Wishes.

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Marvin Sebourn
New Member

Posts: 3
From: Enid, OK
Registered: Mar 2005


 - posted March 24, 2005 06:38 PM      Profile for Marvin Sebourn   Email Marvin Sebourn         Edit/Delete Post 
Jim - I didn't make myself clear. I have been using the Sanborn maps; they are useful, but certainly incomplete, as to the coverage of cities, and coverage within cities. Apparently they originated about 1867, but I am not sure that I am working from a full set for Oklahoma.

My question was actually "where do the five (usually) digit numbers found with each theatre listing at cinematour originate? Are they specific to this site?

I was not aware of the THSofA, and that may be a big help.

Thank you again for your information!

Marvin

Marvin Sebourn
osugeography@aol.com

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Adam Martin
Administrator

Posts: 1090
From: Dallas, TX
Registered: Feb 2003


 - posted March 24, 2005 09:44 PM      Profile for Adam Martin   Author's Homepage   Email Adam Martin         Edit/Delete Post 
The number in the center column is just a unique record number that identifies the theater in the Cinematour database and is specific to this site only. Other information about the mysterious stuff on the site is available on the help page.

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Marvin Sebourn
New Member

Posts: 3
From: Enid, OK
Registered: Mar 2005


 - posted March 25, 2005 08:03 AM      Profile for Marvin Sebourn   Email Marvin Sebourn         Edit/Delete Post 
Adam - Thanks for the answer to my question regarding theatre numbers. I should have looked further!

Marvin

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Jim Rankin
(Jim passed away in December 2006)
Posts: 123
From: Milwaukee, WI
Registered: Oct 2003


 - posted March 26, 2005 08:07 AM      Profile for Jim Rankin   Email Jim Rankin         Edit/Delete Post 
A good place to look for theatre names is in the various annual editions of the FILM DAILY YEARBOOK, often at used books stores and at many libraries. You might also check the site: www.cinematreasures.org which occasionally has a theatre not listed here. Often the business sections of older newspapers listed new constructions including theatres under Building Permits Issued (whether the building was ever built or not), but that would be a long search to be sure! Some cities had 'official' newspapers/newsletters that contained many columns of dense print with lists of such permits to build; archives of these are often in City Hall, local libraries, or at the Register of Deeds at the county seat. The Oklahoma state historical society may also have records.

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Ron Newman
Member

Posts: 145
From: Somerville, MA
Registered: Jan 2005


 - posted March 29, 2005 12:22 PM      Profile for Ron Newman   Email Ron Newman         Edit/Delete Post 
If you look at old newspapers (hardcopy or microfilm) in order to determine theatre addresses, you may be disappointed.

Many of the movie and theatre ads I've seen in 1950s and 1960s Boston Globe have no street addresses. They just assume everyone knows where the theatre is located!

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Jack Coursey
New Member

Posts: 34
From: Nashville, TN
Registered: Jan 2005


 - posted March 29, 2005 07:29 PM      Profile for Jack Coursey   Email Jack Coursey         Edit/Delete Post 
I am currently engaged in a similar pursuit but different venue (the Republic Of 10 A Sea). I concur with my fellow “cinemen” that Rivets, Cinema Treasures, and in homage to our host, Cinema Tours, are about the best references available on the web. Another somewhat fertile source are historical and community websites in the areas you are researching. Most libraries have archive directories, such as old Polk/Cole directories and telephone books, which can at least provide you with names and addresses of theatres of old and a few might have at least a couple of volumes of the International motion picture almanac. Libraries in the geographic locations where you are conducting your research usually have on hand newspaper clippings, photo archives and other related memorabilia on business specific to their communities.

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Ron Newman
Member

Posts: 145
From: Somerville, MA
Registered: Jan 2005


 - posted March 30, 2005 11:16 AM      Profile for Ron Newman   Email Ron Newman         Edit/Delete Post 
what is Rivets?

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Ken Roe
Member

Posts: 66
From: London, England
Registered: May 2003


 - posted March 30, 2005 01:20 PM      Profile for Ken Roe   Author's Homepage   Email Ken Roe         Edit/Delete Post 
Ron, Its actually called Rivest's Ultimate List of Movie Theatres and Drive-In's

http://movie-theatre.org/theatre.htm

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William Hooper
Member

Posts: 82
From: Mobile, AL
Registered: Mar 2003


 - posted March 30, 2005 11:15 PM      Profile for William Hooper   Email William Hooper         Edit/Delete Post 
Adding to Jack Coursey's post: City Directories by Polk & others are the best way to find out addresses & build dates. They're organized into sections by business name, by business types, & also by street addresses. The fast way to find out when a theater appeared is to look it up by name & find its address in a newer directory, then look at the address in older city directories, & see when it stopped being a vacant lot or store, & became a theater.

Then you can run the microfilms of local newspapers in that year to get the opening date, etc.

Polk (or whatever company) city directories are usually kept locally in libraries (often in research, local history, or genealogy departments), but their holdings are often spotty. They've sometimes just got a few from odd years. Some libraries have large, nearly complete collections, & sometimes also have directories from surrounding communities. Some libraries will have historical newspaper microfilms & directories from an entire region: I found out on a visit there that the library of the University of Southen Mississippi has a regional historical section including newspaper microfilms for much of MS, LA, & some AL, plus an assortment of city directories & local history books for communities northern gulf coast area. So check around, & you might not have to drive to each city.

Local historic newspaper microfilms are usually found only in libraries in the cities where the newspapers were based (except for big paper like NYT, etc.), but you can usually ask your local library to obtain via interlibrary loan from another library a reel of their microfilm or some information from a certain date.

The Allen County Library in Fort Wayne IN is the archive for Polk Directories:
http://fuji.acpl.lib.in.us/genealogy/
they've got a huge collection, but you may have to drive there. I put in a research request via the email address on their site & requested an inter-library loan or research information from their holdings through a local library, & never got a reply. I finally got the information through other sources like emails to local historical societies & newspaper microfilms via interlibrary loan.

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Ron Newman
Member

Posts: 145
From: Somerville, MA
Registered: Jan 2005


 - posted March 31, 2005 03:51 AM      Profile for Ron Newman   Email Ron Newman         Edit/Delete Post 
Libraries may also have old telephone directories, which can be similarly helpful. If the library doesn't have them, I suppose one could ask the telephone company, though I've never tried that.

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