Singing in the Rain

The photographer is standing in front of the Rialto Theater, opened during the First World War in 1918, looking down 9th on a rainy day in the early 1920’s. Much would change in the next few years. The Winthop Hotel would rise from the vacant lot in the center on this picture and its parking garage would replace the Italianate Fife Hotel down on Pacific. There’s a good chance that many of the fashionable people in the image work in the entertainment district and are headed to one of 19 “ticket”theaters within a couple blocks on this late wet afternoon. The nearby boarding houses, apartment buildings and hotels were home to hundreds of stagehands, musicians, ushers, promoters, theatrical agents and ticket office management staff that trafficked the streets and alleys day and night. On any one of those given nights there were 10,000 theater seats to be filling in Tacoma’s legitimate movie and vaudeville houses, burlesque and music halls, and the many downtown jazz clubs and brown spots. A few hours after this photo was taken all the marquee lights would come on, ticket boxes would open and Tacoma’s theater district would blaze into the high life. I hear music.

Theater District

 

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