eBook Released on the Origins of Film Industry
Marquis Publications, in conjunction with author Marshall Wright and editor Marques Vickers is releasing an ebook tracing the origins of downtown Los Angeles from its pioneer inception until the Stock Market crash of 1929. Priced at $19.95, the ebook entitled "The Glory That Was Spring Street" is a chronological narrative of the the personalities, triumphs and scandals which shaped early downtown Los Angeles, transforming it from a renowned and avoided City of Devils to the performance and production center for live theatre, vaudeville and silent movies. The junction of Spring and Main Streets was the cornerstone of this social frenzy prior to the ultimate emergence of Hollywood in the 1930's as downtown's successor.
Following several years of research and compilation during the late 1980's and 1990's, author Marshall Wright has compiled a unique compilation on the evolution of the Los Angeles entertainment industry from the days of El Pueblo to the introduction of talking movies (1830-1930). Posthumously published following Wrights death in July of 2003, the chronology of downtown Los Angeles is chronicled into four sections:
ACT 1 Setting The Stage (1830-1870)
The chronological narrative begins with the establishment of the El Pueblo de La Reina de Los Angeles in approximately 1830. At that time, there were only a thousand American settlers clustered around the junction of Main and Spring Streets. This fork in the road no longer exists being eclipsed by the 1926 construction of the Los Angeles City Hall. Early Los Angeles, The City of the Angels, was denounced worldwide as The City of the Devils. It was considered the most wicked, western area in America, renowned for crime, corruption, debauchery, gambling, lynching, murders and rebellion. Old Los Angeles, with its government under several flags, dissected by Indian, Mexican, Spanish and World Wars, could be a script writer's dream, simply by delving into the local history books.
ACT 2 Live Theatre Era (1870-1900)
Although the lawless aspect which often dominated and doomed El Pueblo, where anarchy flourished, the pioneers ultimately began to shake the dust off their boots, don their Sunday suits and eagerly support meager social events of local inspiration. Inasmuch as Los Angeles was really the end of the geographical line, it was accessible only by steamer from San Francisco, stage coach or wagon train across the continent or via steamship around the Cape Horn. Not until 1876 was the remote Southland connected to San Francisco by railroad. So intense were the needs of the El Pueblo founders and followers that they were suckers for any kind of diversion including touring tank troupes, evangelistic tent meetings, deadbeat carnivals and medicine man shows.
Soon the big city promoters realized that due to their isolation, Angelinos were sure fire bookings and guaranteed a good payday. Equating the law of supply and demand, simple banquet halls evolved into elaborate theaters. Before qualifying as the Great White Way of the West, the Los Angeles theatrical beat went through three major stages. The arc of the theatrical spotlights ranged from Main to Spring to Broadway in tune with the music orchestrated by the pied pipers of real estate.
Long before Thomas Edison invented film making machinery, Los Angeles became the bustling live entertainment capital of the Western States, second only to San Francisco. At one time or another, every legendary Broadway (New York City) play and player performed along this Great White Way of the West.
ACT 3 Silent Pictures (1900-1920)
So legendary was the evil reputation of Los Angeles that the original New York film fathers tried to simulate LA's notoriety by fabricating Westerns in the security of their Eastern studios. At the turn of the century, many easterners still believed that Indian, Mexican, French, Spanish and Russian renegades were sacking California. The motion picture business went west only when the Edison Patents monopoly trust legally chased its independent imitators away from their protected turf.
Quite coincidentally, the 1906 premier of the Alexandria Hotel (still standing) matched the arrival of the first antitrust movie makers. This romantic marriage, legitimate and illegitimate, was to endure for a quarter century. Coupled with the thriving migration of both stage and screen hopefuls, the Alexandria became the theatrical capital of Western America.
Practically every silent motion picture studio negotiated its Los Angeles roots in this grand hotel and operated within a few miles of its romantic revolving doors: Mutoscope and Biograph (1906), Selig/Polyscope (1907), Bison/New York Motion Pictures (1909), Griffith/Biograph (1910), Pathe (1911), Laemmle/Universal (1912), Sennett/Keystone (1912), Famous Players-Lasky (1913), Harold lloyd/Hal Roach (1914), William Fox (1914), Paramount-Artcraft (1915), Vitagraph (1916), Triangle (1916), Selznick (1917), Goldwyn (1917), First national (1917), Tom Mix (1917), William Hart (1918), Louis B. Mayer (1919), United Artists (1919) and Warner Brothers (1919).
ACT 4 Beginning of the End (1920-1930)
The tremendous outgrowth of Los Angeles brought about the usual demise of urbanization. At the beginning of 1920, Los Angeles' population was 500,000. By 1930, the count was a million and a half. With prosperity in high gear during the Roaring 20's, suburbia beckoned. Great mini cities sprung up in more scenic and spacious neighborhoods. Western Los Angeles became synonymous with motion picture progress: Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Brentwood and Bel Air.
During the 1920's, new construction reached unbelievable heights. Great real estate promotions lured the permanent residents away from the town center. New apartment buildings, hotels, clubs, restaurants, stores and industries set their sights on escaping the city rat race. Replacing the downtown movie mill, new studio facilities were constructed around Hollywood, Culver City, Santa Monica and the San Fernando Valley. It was the standard plight of most big cities, the disease caused by developers eager to move on to new horizons and fresh capitalization. The once stylized structures of Main, Spring and Broadway were left to fend for themselves, like servants who'd outlived their usefulness.
The accidental straw that broke the camel's back was the introduction of talking pictures. Former Alexandria Hotel permanent guests, the Warner Brothers, gambled their defunct movie operation and came up winners with talkies such as Don Juan (1926) and The Jazz Singer (1927). These successful releases dropped the bomb on the silent movie business, an irreparable blow to the hundreds of related contributors to the downtown economy. This shift, compounded with the Wall Street Crash of 1929, brought down the curtain on the Spring Street as a major industry center.
The publication is on a compact disc formatted in Adobe Acrobat PDF and features over 200+ illustrations and photographs. (ISBN #9706530-9-3). Copies can be purchased online through Marquis Publications website at www.ArtsInAmerica.com and other online retail book selling outlets.
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