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The Movie Theater in the Neighborhood

A focus on preserving and documenting the history of neighborhood movie theaters included the analysis, historical narrative, and the creation of a dataset covering movie theater location and use changes over a hundred year span. The mapping of the dataset of the South Minneapolis movie theater development history gave a visual representation of the movie theater presence in neighborhood commercial hubs. The overall product could be used to record and guide city planning or neighborhood development.

Why Neighborhood Movie Theaters?


Identifying the location of movie theaters – extant and not – brings a picture of the physical networks between the theaters, neighborhoods’ residents, and the business hubs. This picture is central to establishing who and what makes the connection with entertainment. The dataset of the South Minneapolis movie theaters allows mapping of the use transitions for the different theaters. 

A full picture of the history of the neighborhood theater takes into account the relationship of the neighborhood theater and the neighborhood residents as much as the architect chosen or the architectural style used. Particularly early in the neighborhood theater era, when numerous theaters were built in close proximity to each other, the theater manager's response to the neighborhood’s culture or identity is an essential part of what determined the neighborhood residents’ embracing of the theater. A theater owner’s decisions about the audience he or she wanted as well as needed to attract and the need of the residents for that particular theater as their entertainment option was important to the role the theater ultimately took in the area.

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