1915 - Smog filled skyline

Smog Filled Skyline

SOURCE: Chattanooga History Center
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Our Industrial Heritage

In this photo, the 'Scenic City' begins to show its industrial heritage; a reputation that would take another 70+ years to shed.

Photograph of Chattanooga looking south with Market Street on left side and Broad Street on right side. Left: Picto Theatre, McKenney's Trunk Factory, Davenport Brothers Dry Goods, Patten Hotel, Schwartz Ladies Garments. Right: T.H. Payne & Company, Depot and rail yards, Armour and Company, Brock Candy Company. Circa 1915.

Source: The Chattanooga Daily Times

Going to the movies...

This photo is believed to be from 1915, the same year that D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation created controversy, and popularized the ‘feature film’. Motion pictures, also called ‘photoplays’ were wildly popular, with many small theaters opening to capitalize on the growing demand.

New entertainment brought new fears and moral debate over censorship, and the showing of motion pictures on Sunday.

While the City's Board of Commissioners were against censorship - Chattanooga’s Mayor took a minority view in this open letter:


I beg to acknowledge receipt of your favor, and in reply to say that I recommended to the board of commissioners—at the suggestion of the Pastors' Association of this city—that we should have a censorship of picture shows, the actual censorship to be done through the Carnegie Library Board. This action entails some expense, and the other four commissioners opposed the expense, not believing it necessary, and the matter was, therefore, for the time being, killed. My own idea in regard to the moving picture show is that it should be regulated with a view to the prevention of exhibition of pictures that will be demoralizing either to adults or children. The moving picture shows have been and can be made most advantageous from an educational point of view, and I believe should be encouraged as long as the business is kept on right lines. I believe that a censorship of pictures can be done with benefit to any community and yet without working hardship upon those whose capital is tied up in this business.
by Yours very truly,
T. C. THOMPSON, Mayor.

Chattanooga theaters in 1915

Although the Picto Theatre can be seen in the lower portion of this image, it did not make the published list below.

  • Alhambra Theatre
  • Crescent Theatre
  • Crystal Theatre, 230 E. Main St.
  • Colonial Theatre
  • Dixie Theatre, 213 E. Oth St.
  • Eagle Theatre, 312 W. ath St.
  • Gem Theatre
  • Grand Theatre, 109-11 E. 9th St.
  • Imperial Theatre
  • Leader Theatre, 222 E. 9th St.
  • The Wide Awake, 703 Market St.
  • Theato, 702 M-arket St.
  • Tip Top Theatre. 301 E. 9th St.